During the week of July 16th Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) fisheries staff with the help of local Walleye’s Unlimited club members completed step one of the sport fish enhancement project at Spotted Eagle. Over 600 fish were removed using a combination of netting and electrofishing methods.
Region 7 fisheries staff attempts to provide fishing opportunity at Spotted Eagle through a combination of sport fish including largemouth bass, walleye, northern pike, channel catfish, bluegill, crappie, and yellow perch. Flooding in 2011 caused the Tongue River and Spotted Eagle to connect across the floodplain and through the spillway ditch, allowing many fish from the Tongue River to colonize the reservoir. Colonizing river fish such as common carp, river carpsuckers, shorthead redhorse suckers, and goldeye compete for resources in the reservoir with sport fish and decrease angler opportunity. The fish removed were primarily these species.
The next step in the sport fish enhancement project is to backfill the void left by the removed fish with species that will provide angler opportunity. Transplants of adult yellow perch and channel catfish that will offer instant angling opportunity and stocking largemouth and smallmouth bass fingerlings will provide bass fishing opportunity in a couple of years when these stocked fish grow to catchable size. Sampling efforts at Spotted Eagle in July 2012 demonstrated that crappie, northern pike, and walleye are doing well and are available in good numbers.
A copy of the environmental assessment (EA) for the proposed sport fish enhancement at Spotted Eagle Reservoir is on FWP's website at fwp.mt.gov, or call 406-234-0914.