By Robert Lucke
It seems unusual to say the least. Driving through the bald prairie south of Kremlin at 100 degrees above to view one of the premiere fisheries of the area.
Eight hot and dusty miles later, there it is, like an oasis shimmering in the relentless afternoon sun, a large body of blue surrounded by green grass and trees. If that wasn't enough of a jolt for one day, consider this. It is home to many varieties of fish northerns, pike, perch, walleyes, crappie and largemouth bass. All just languish there winter or summer, waiting to go home to area frying pans.
Called Bailey's Reservoir, it was the particular dream of Howard Bailey.
"You know Daddy worked at Fort Peck building the tunnels," daughter Jeanne Martin said. "Maybe that is where he got the idea of his own reservoir. He built it in 1973 and it filled in 1976. This place was his special dream."
Bailey's Reservoir is in a deep coulee just north of Sage Creek. The reservoir is large, being some 27 feet deep when full. And even in dry years like this one, its capacity is impressive.
Something new has been added to the west side of the reservoir usually used only by anglers and the barn swallows that make their home in the shelter house.
"Last fall a group of us got together and started building a fishing pier to extend into the reservoir," said Montana Fish, Wildlife and Park's Kent Gilge. "Northerns Unlimited, Montana FWP, along with the Fresno Chapter of Walleyes Unlimited, got it built and we dedicated it to the memory of Howard and Dorothy Bailey."
The new pier extends a fisherman into the reservoir, past muddy shores and mossy growth, and into clear water where huge fish lay awaiting their lunch.
The entire reservoir is a miracle out there in the middle of nowhere. It is fed solely by spring runoff and winter snowbanks.
And the reservoir's four-season fishing is made more pleasant because of Bailey's son-in-law, Rick Martin, who started planting willows and cottonwoods around the reservoir 10 years ago.
The new pier is just another part of this unlikely fishery, thanks to the dreams of Howard and Dorothy Bailey.