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From world-class walleye

fishing to giant pike and hard-

fighting smallmouth bass, Fort

Peck Lake offers a wide array of

a n g l i n g

oppo r t un i -

ties.

Stretching

130

miles

from Petro-

leum County

in the west to

the

earth-

filled

dam

near Glasgow

in the east,

Fort

Peck

Reservoir is

M o n t a n a ’ s

largest body

of water.

H e a t h

Headley has

been

the

FWP’s fisher-

ies manager on Fort Peck Lake

for the past 11 years and he is

expecting a good year on the

lake.

“Things are looking good,”

Headley told the News-Argus in

mid-March. “It’s largely a reflec-

tion of those high water years

followed by good growth and

survival.”

Not only are fish numbers

good, but water levels are

expected to be high enough for

all the ramps to be useable –

including the Crooked Creek

ramp in Northern Petroleum

County, which is usually one of

the first ramps to become un-

useable in low water years.

“We’ll have a better feel for

that in a few weeks,” said Head-

ley, adding that based on snow-

pack the ramps should be ok.

“We are about a foot higher

than we were last year at this

time and we are not really

expecting any big decreases.”

Headley said their surveys

last year indicated walleye num-

bers above

the long-term

average and a

lot of fish in

the 20 to 25

inch range,

which

is

about a 3 to

3-1/2 pound

fish.

One of the

primary bait-

fish in the

lake is cisco,

and Headley

said

cisco

numbers are

high

and

there are a lot

of big fish in

the 8 to 9

inch range, which attract big

walleye.

But Headley said that can be

a double-edged sword for fish-

ermen. Cisco tend to stay in the

cold, deep parts of the lake, and

as summer goes on, that is

where the big walleye will go, so

that is where the fishermen

may have to go as well.

In the coming weeks, Head-

ley and other FWP employees

will work with volunteers from

around the state at the annual

“Egg Take” on the Big Dry Arm

of Fort Peck Lake.

Eggs gathered from female

walleyes will be reared at state

hatcheries and then the young

fish will be planted in lakes

around the region. Headley said

they plan to stock Fort Peck

with 2-3 million walleye finger-

lings.

Northern Pike also feed on

cisco and Headley said it should

be another good year for north-

erns. Last year’s surveys found

numbers slightly down but still

above the long-term average.

Headley said smallmouth

bass also appear to be doing

well, with some of the prime

areas being in the upper Big Dry

Arm and up from Hell Creek.

“There are some better num-

bers in those areas and a person

has a shot at a pretty darn nice

smallmouth.”

Headley expects a decent

year for salmon but “probably

not as good as last year,” which

he described as “truly excep-

tional.”

Headley said a lot of the fish

caught last year were three

years old and weighed in the

teens. This year, he is expecting

to see more 4-year old fish,

which would weigh around 20

pounds.

Other species, such as lake

trout, crappie and perch do not

get as much attention but cer-

tainly draw anglers to the lake.

Headley said from Fourchette

Bay up through Devil’s Creek

and on up toward Crooked

Creek can be good areas for

crappie.

One thing the west end of

the lake is known for, he said, is

catfish. “There are a lot of peo-

ple who target catfish in that

upper stretch as the lake begins

to transition back into river

habitat.”

saturday, April 1, 2017

page 11

Central Montana Fishing Guide

B

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y

s

&

G

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r

l

s

C

l

u

B

of

l

e

w

i

s

t

o

w

n

Kimberly Haynes

Tobacco Prevention Specialist

406-535-2257

Call Now 1-800-QUIT-NOW

QuitNowMontana.com

Call today for FREE help

and advice.

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so I could enjoy doing the things I love,

like fishing the great outdoors.

Another great

year expected

on Fort Peck

Fishermen should expect plenty of action on Fort Peck this year.