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Prairie Ponds in Southeastern Montana

Fishing - Region 7

Fri Apr 30 00:00:00 MDT 2010

Fish, Wildlife and Parks recently sampled several southeastern Montana prairie ponds.  Several of the ponds have very low water levels and fish populations are either low or have winter killed in several locations. Winter conditions the last two years has produced little run-off and prolonged snow cover on the ice surface of the ponds.  Under these winter conditions aquatic vegetation dies and decomposition follows which consumes oxygen in the water. This creates oxygen starved water which does not support a fish population.


Ponds in the Terry, Montana area have experienced significant low water and winter kill. In some ponds no live fish were found during sampling efforts. Clarks Reservoir is an example of low water conditions where no live fish were located during the recent survey. Anglers heading out for a day of fishing on a prairie pond need to understand that some ponds may have winter killed. Results of some of the surveys are provided for your information:


Custer County: Haughain Bass Pond experienced a partial winter kill. It was 7 feet deep and bass, northern pike and perch were present. Haughian Trout Pond had 11 feet of water and trout were present. Boulware Reservoir had 6 feet of water, trout were stocked in April. Dean S and Rest ponds have insufficient water depth to stock fish.


Dawson County: Water levels at Johnson Dam were 10 feet deep, FWP planted adult perch in April.  Rattlesnake Dam had 11 feet of water but no crappies were found and the only fish captured were fathead minnows.  FWP planted adult crappie in April.


Fallon County: Baker Lake experienced a partial winter kill; FWP planted adult perch and crappie in April.  South Sandstone Reservoir still has a strong crappie population along with perch, walleye, bass and northern pike.


Prairie County: Homestead, South Fork and Harms Ponds had only 1 foot of water and no fish present.  Silvertip had six feet of water and no fish present.


Anglers are also reminded that permission to fish private ponds, even those stocked by FWP, requires landowner permission.