The new plan sets direction for fisheries management on Fresno Reservoir and establishes management targets for sportfish and forage species. In addition, the plan proposes to reestablish a walleye stocking program in an effort to improve catch rates.
Management Goal: The Fresno Reservoir fisheries will be managed as a walleye fishery with the primary goal of high angler catch rates for Stock (10-15") and Quality (15-20") walleye. This will be accomplished by stocking hatchery walleye to augment the wild walleye population. An emphasis will be placed on habitat enhancement efforts to support other species of interest (yellow perch, black crappie and forage species).
Under this management goal, angler harvest of walleyes will be essential to maintain a healthy fishery.
The plan was written in concert with a 9-member citizens advisory committee that represented walleye anglers (local), walleye anglers (non-local), local government, local business, and general/youth angling. This group met four times over the course of four months working with FWP to develop the draft management plan.
This plan will be the first official management plan developed for the Fresno Fishery. The plan will be completed in 2021 and will serve to guide fisheries management for a five-year period from 2022-2026.
Fresno Reservoir ranks as the 5th most popular fishing destination in northeast Montana and records more than 12,350 angler days annually. Fresno also generates approximately $1 million in angling-related revenue annually
Fresno Reservoir in north central Montana has been a popular fishery following impoundment in 1939. This mainstem reservoir typically supports and average of 12,350 angler days annually since 2001 and is ranked 5th regionally and 63rd statewide for angling pressure.
The majority of angling pressure comes from local (Hill County-73%), anglers with surrounding communities rounding out the top 3 (Cascade - 9.7%, Blaine - 4.7%, Choteau counties - 2.3%). In most years the bulk (75%) of the angling pressure occurs in the summer months with limited ice fishing activity.
Following the introduction of walleye in 1957 Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) placed primary management focus on walleye. On most years, Fresno supports the highest relative abundance of walleye of any fishery in Montana. In addition, yellow perch, black crappie, northern pike and lake whitefish round out the fishery. Rainbow trout were stocked from 2002 to 2003 with limited success. In an effort to develop a more diverse fishery and satisfy requests for stocking, rainbow were again stocked in 2020. These fish were stocked as catchables (7”-8”) in early October to avoid predation.
PowerPoint Presentation (PDF)
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