Waterfowl and Fish: Captain’s Column (10.1.15)
By angelamontana

Posted: October 1, 2015

It’s the first day of October and most of the sportsmen that I know are focusing on getting ready for the Montana waterfowl opener that will take place this Saturday. It is also the time of the year that we do our annual Goose Blind Broadcast on the Montana Outdoor Radio Show. It looks good for the season opener as there are plenty of birds especially Canada geese. Should be fun as I know water fowlers are looking to Mother Nature to give them some fowl weather this weekend.

Anglers are still fishing as Matt Mackinaw and I had a chance to try our luck over at Holter Reservoir this past week. The weather was very nice with temperatures in the 70’s and winds under 10 miles per hour for most of the day. The fishing has been very good on Holter. Fall is the time of the year that the bigger trout start to feed aggressively. Make sure you check out montanaoutdoor.com as I have showcased the best lures to use right now on the reservoir for trout fishing. Some anglers might be surprised that only 14% of the trout caught on Holter are wild, the rest are stocked by Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks. It is safe to say that without this aggressive stocking program the trout fishing would not be what it is today. Holter was stocked with 125,000 age one, 8-inch Eagle Lake rainbows this past summer and 125,000 8-inch Arlee rainbows will be stocked this fall. Stocking of larger sized fish with average length of 8-inches has improved recruitment of stocked rainbows.

The fish were stocked 15 times this past summer by FWP from July 8th to July 13th in Holter Reservoir. The fish stocking program isn’t new to Holter Reservoir by FWP as rainbow trout were first introduced into Holter Reservoir during the early 1940s. From the 1970s through 1995 the reservoir fishery was supplemented by annually stocking approximately 325,000 Arlee rainbow trout. In 1996, in an effort to increase the proportion of wild rainbow trout in Holter, FWP shifted from Arlee rainbow trout to Eagle Lake rainbow trout. This plan resulted in Holter being stocked with 125,000 age 1 Eagle Lake rainbow trout in the summer and 125,000 Arlee rainbow trout in the fall in the 2000’s. Holter Reservoir isn’t the only lake, river or creek that gets stocked with fish.

FWP owns or operates ten hatcheries that annually stock approximately 50 million fish into approximately 836 lakes and reservoirs and approximately 23 rivers or streams throughout Montana. FWP’s hatcheries provide eggs and fish to support both sport fisheries and native fish restoration programs in Montana and neighboring states. The annual statewide production is 45 million warmwater and 8.4 million coldwater fish. Since most of the warm water fish are stocked as fry, the total warmwater production amounts to less than 11,000 pounds of fish, while the annual production of coldwater species typically exceeds 160,000 pounds. If you want to see one of these hatcheries in action then feel free to stop in as all of the FWP hatcheries are open to public visitation year round .

(Written by the Captain – aka Mark Ward)

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