By Robert Lucke
Area fishing is a very mixed bag at best, according to Havre area Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks' fish biologist, Kent Gilge. Take Fresno Reservoir, just west of Havre.
"Fresno is shaping up as bad for several reasons," Gilge said. "We took a big hit last year when the Reservoir went down to nothing, and we are looking at a worse scenario this year. It will not be the rebuilding year that we hoped for. However, I am optimistic about the future of Fresno because of its ability to rebound after these two dry years."
"One of the things we are doing in low water years is those years should provide good spawning habitat for yellow perch," Gilge continued. "Because the adult yellow perch numbers are very low, our plans are for the next several years to transplant adult prespawning yellow perch into Fresno, hopefully, to take advantage of that habitat once the reservoir fills up again."
Beaver Creek Reservoir looks to be good this year, according to Gilge, who thinks that even though that reservoir may not ever fill this year, it is about the best thing going around here in the percentage of water in it, and the fishing is excellent.
"With everything else being on the edge, so to speak, I really anticipate just a phenomenal year at Beaver Creek Reservoir and Bear Paw Lake," Gilge said.
"Bear Paw Lake is full," Gilge said. "Trout are really starting to grow. It appears that we are winning the war against suckers and due to such strong fishing pressure in both of those lakes, it was suggested at a recent fish regulation scoping meeting that the trout limit be reduced on those lakes for five per day to three a day. That would go into effect on March 1, 2002 if it is adopted."
Rainbow trout being caught these days at Bear Paw frequently run from 12 to 13 inches long.
Ross Reservoir is still closed for this year, Gilge reported. Last year MFWP poisoned suckers in the reservoir which did not fill last fall. They want to keep it closed this year to give new cutthroat trout a chance to grow. May 2002 is the re-opening of that reservoir.
Bear Paw and adjacent streams look good for early fishing. Streams fishing opens on May 19.
"Early fishing in streams should be excellent," Gilge related. "Only time will tell whether we get the summer rains to keep them up and going. And the Milk River below Fresno should be good all summer long. That is where all the water will be going."
Area good fishing streams include Cow Creek, Beaver Creek in Hill County, Beaver Creek in the Little Rockies, Little Box Elder Creek and Clear Creek.
"Faber Reservoir is low right now," Gilge continued. "It will be restocked this year following a sucker poisoning project last summer. It is open now, but there won't be any catchable sized fish until late in the summer."
"Kuhr Reservoir is very low," Gilge said. "We canceled the fish plant we had scheduled this year. Fishermen are encouraged to harvest the large trout currently in there as we are anticipating a summer kill."
Grasshopper Reservoir has good water and large trout as does Reser Reservoir north of Chinook.
Don't count on great paddle fishing this season unless things really change.
"Paddle fishing is not likely to be a very good year due to low flows anticipated," Gilge said. "The Robinson Bridge area is a good fishing access site for this area, but I don't think we are even going to get high flows in June. Right now we are at one-third of natural flows necessary to move the fish. As the flows approach 14,000 cfs at the Virgelle Gaging Station, that is when paddle fishing will be good."
Stream flows this week at Virgelle were around 4,800 cfs. For stream flow information daily at the Virgelle Gaging Station, log onto the Internet at http://montana.usgs.gov/rt-cgi/gen_stn_pg?station=06109500.