By Robert Lucke
by Robert Lucke
The Havre Daily News
Thursday, May 13
Three times a week, during most of the month of May, Kent Gilge and his associates head to Bear Paw Lake to spend a morning reduced the sucker population in the reservoir.
They get into a boat and tour the lake checking seven traps that if conditions are good, will be filled with three quarter pound suckers.
So why try to eradicate the sucker population of the lake? It is to make for better trout fishing. Often times suckers feed on the same food as trout, making for less trout food and then there is that other thingthat at times suckers find trout just as good eating as anglers do. So the suckers must go.
Enter Kent Gilge, the Havre fish biologist for Fish, Wildlife and Parks along with his crew.
This is the sixth year since we started our new improved version of sucker control at Bear Paw Lake, said Gilge. The plan calls for periodic plants of Small Mouth Bass to reduce sucker recruitment. Couple that with removal of adult sucker fish by trapping.
The numbers of suckers taken out of Bear Paw Lake are staggering. Since the program was started 121,500 suckers have been removed.
And dont forget that those Small Mouth Bass are still trying to make suckers their main meals at the same time.
We are reducing the population from both ends and hopefully we will see bigger trout in Bear Paw Lake, said Gilge.
This years numbers of suckers trapped are large once again.
Last Friday we trapped 1100 pounds. This year we will probably trap from five to six thousand pounds of suckers, Gilge said. That means from six to seven thousand suckers taken out of the lake.
But even with all that, Gilge is not willing to say this project is successful.
From the number of suckers we see, we are winning but the ultimate goal is to see good trout growth, added Gilge. We are winning the war but we havent seen the trout respond yet so I am not ready to start shooting off the party poppers yet.