Fish, Wildlife and Parks soon will begin stocking catchable rainbow trout in Willow Creek Reservoir northwest of Augusta on the Rocky Mountain Front.
The reservoir was drained last summer by Greenfield Irrigation District to work on the water body’s outlet structure. That eliminated the reservoir’s popular trout fishery.
To help anglers and the local economy, FWP in mid-March will stock 130 rainbow trout, measuring at least 18 inches in length. Tens of thousands of smaller trout will be stocked through the summer.
“We want to start stocking in mid-March as soon as there is open water,” said Katie Vivian, FWP fisheries biologist in Choteau.
“All the state’s hatcheries have been incredibly helpful and dedicated to getting this fishery back online,” Vivian said.
The first trout plant in March comes from FWP’s Jocko River Hatchery in Arlee. Other hatcheries helping this year are: Giant Springs in Great Falls with 40,000 4- to 7-inch fish; Big Springs in Lewistown with 20,000 4-inch fish; and Bluewater Springs in Bridger with 20,000 4-inch fish and 500 15-inch trout.
“The reservoir should be fishable and the boat ramp useable this summer,” Vivian said, “and the reservoir should have a strong population by 2021. Before the drawdown, rainbow trout in Willow Creek were growing 8 inches in their first year, and two-year-old fish were reaching 18 to 21 inches and 3 to 4 pounds.”
Currently Willow Creek’s is 42 percent full and projections call for 80 percent full by June, Vivian said.