Warriors on the water
MONTANA WARRIORS ON THE WATER
MWOTW’s summer got off to a great start with us taking several Polaris Rangers to the Governor’s Cup and helping shuttle the 200 boat drivers to and from the dock and the parking areas. We thoroughly enjoyed our experience there and were delighted to have been asked to return for the 2019 Governor’s Cup. We are also pleased to announce that two of the 2018 Fort Peck Tour veterans have volunteered to return in 2019 at their own expense to help us at the 2019 Governor’s Cup. They are excited to share their experiences and what the trip meant to them!
July also brought us another great year for the Fort Peck Tour Veterans Fishing Trip! The 2018 trip was the biggest one Montana Warriors On The Water has ever put on! This year’s trip featured 17 veterans that included 5 from Montana and 12 others from 11 different states. And of the 17 veterans, 5 were Vietnam vets.
We started the trip this year on Sunday, July 22. After all the veterans arrived at the Billings airport, we proceeded to travel back to Miles City, got the vets checked in to the motel, and after a short R & R, everyone went to the Miles City VFW for the evening. This was a good chance for the vets to get to talk and to know each other better as well as meeting other MWOTW Board members and key volunteers during a fantastic meal.
On Monday morning after breakfast, we all headed to the Hell Creek Marina via Jordan, MT. We all met at the Hell Creek Bar for a great lunch and then we drove on to the Hell Creek Marina arriving about 3:00. After getting acquainted with the area and getting their cabin assignments, some vets got out on the lake that afternoon for some fishing. After a busy afternoon, we all enjoyed a steak fry with all the trimmings that was top notch thanks to the Garfield County Bank graciously donating and grilling all the steaks.
Each day at Hell Creek we started with a 7:00 AM Pledge of Allegiance and then a home cooked breakfast. MWOTW can’t say enough about the wonderful breakfasts prepared every morning by all the volunteers that help year after year. These breakfasts are becoming famous in their own right! After breakfast each morning, each vet along with the boat captains and their helpers grab a lunch bag and go through the “lunch line” that is staffed by some great young gals who strived to make sure each vet had what they wanted to eat. All in all, MWOTW is blessed with an amazing set of people who help prepare and serve all the food necessary for this trip.
Tuesday evening’s meal was a delicious spaghetti meal provided by the Lucky Charms group from Jordan and Garfield County. Wednesday night was “Taco Night” and several vets jumped in and helped prepare the meal. On Thursday, we had a fish fry and were also treated to some great barbeque donated and prepared by Jay Collins and crew from RZ Metal Worx from Miles City.
We have always told the veterans we are there for them – whatever they would like to do, we will try and make it happen! As we do every year, we were blessed to have some of the best boat captains at the Hell Creek and Fort Peck Marinas, who donate their time, their boats and their expertise to make sure the veterans enjoyed their time on the lake. Everyday, the veterans have a choice of fishing, sightseeing, relaxing on the big tri-toons, water sking and jet-skiing. Wednesday and Thursday nights also featured a highly competitive cornhole tournament!
As we started last year, this year’s trip was split between two different great marinas. On Friday morning after breakfast, most of the vets got on boats and were taken across the lake where they enjoyed a day of long range shooting with some one of a kind rifles brought to the event by some great supporters of MWOTW. This has become a favorite of the veterans and all participants really enjoy shooting for the trophy that is made and donated by DB Designs of Opheim, MT. The vets that chose to fish instead of shoot were picked up at Hell Creek by volunteer boat captains from the Fork Peck area and they fished their way back to the Fort Peck Marina. Everyone met at the Fort Peck Marina that afternoon and were taken to the historic Fort Peck Hotel where we stayed Friday and Saturday nights.
Friday evening was highlighted by a great meal prepared by the Glasgow Walleye Chapter. Steak and all the trimmings for everyone! After the meal, the rest of the evening was spent relaxing and everyone just enjoying the comradery of all involved!
Saturday brought us another great breakfast, this time prepared by the Glasgow High School Student Council. These fantastic young men and women choose to donate their time and talents for MWOTW in various ways every year! The balance of the day was spent on the lake fishing for walleye, lake trout and salmon with some of Fort Peck’s best boat captains.
Saturday night was something to behold! The Glasgow and Fort Peck folks went out of their way to show the veterans their appreciation for their sacrifices. The Southern Drawl Band from Nashville, TN, returned for another year and played throughout the evening. There was a silent and live auction with great items raising funds for MWOTW so we can continue to provide veterans the opportunity to enjoy Eastern Montana. Everyone really enjoyed their evening well into the night and hated to see it come to an end!
On Sunday, we enjoyed a great breakfast at the Fort Peck Hotel and then it was time to pack and start the goodbyes as some vets flew out of Glasgow and some were driven back to Billings for their flights.
We certainly want to express our thanks to all the individual volunteers as well as the many groups that help us to put on this event. We could not do what we do without you. Many thanks to all the wonderful people of Garfield County and the Jordan Chapter of Walleyes Unlimited. Their hospitality and generosity know no bounds. And thank you to the people in the Glasgow/Fort Peck area who help us in many ways; the Glasgow Walleye Chapter, the Glasgow High School Student Council, the Fort Peck Marina, all the boat captains and the many individuals from that area. MWOTW is honored that those people in that area welcome our organization and the veterans we bring there!
There are also many across the state that help MWOTW a great deal, not only this year but every year, and deserve our thanks. We are fortunate to have several state Walleye Chapters that either donate funds, time or services to us and the veterans. At the top of this list is the Great Falls Chapter who donated $5,000 to MWOTW in 2018. The Glasgow High School Student Council has held a “Paint Run” the last 3 years and has donated all the funds to MWOTW. In fact, to date, they have raised close to $15,000 for MWOTW! And, one of our staunchest supporters is the Walleyes Unlimited of Montana state organization as they not only helped us tremendously when we started several years ago but they have continued to assist us with funding at various times.
And last, but certainly not least, thanks to some of our greatest volunteers: the ladies from Jordan, Chad Phipps, our fantastic boat coordinator, and our super stars from Glasgow, Jace Ball, David Bradley and Joyce Stone. These type of people are why we are successful!
As we have stated before and will again, we here at Montana Warriors On The Water feel it is a great privilege to do what we do. To honor our nation’s veterans is an opportunity that one of us takes lightly. We are already gearing up for 2019! We hope to expand our fund raising efforts so we can do more for our Nation’s veterans. We look forward to interacting with Walleye fishermen and women from all across Montana so they can see firsthand the gratitude the veterans have for experiencing Walleye fishing in Montana! To see the friendships we help create, the memories we help make and the lives we help change is an experience that has no limits. We humbly thank each and everyone one who help us in this quest.
Mark your calendars for next year! The 2019 Fort Peck Tour is scheduled for July 15-19 at the Hell Creek Marina and July 19-20 at the Fort Peck Marina. Our concert and fundraiser auctions will be Saturday night, July 20 at the Fort Peck Marina and will feature the Southern Drawl Band from Nashville. We hope to see you there!!
Submitted on behalf of the Board of Directors for Montana Warriors On The Water by John Morford, Executive Director.
Montana Warriors On The Water
A 501(c)3 Non Profit Organization
Federal Tax ID: 47-3999595
PO Box 832
Miles City, MT 59301
Miles City, MT 59301
"Giving Back To Those Who Gave So Much"
Lakes and Fishing Reports
Fishing Report -
Fishing Report - October 2018
Montana Outdoor Radio Show Fishing Report
Canyon Ferry: Fishing continues to be slow throughout the reservoir. A few rainbow trout are being caught from shore using worms or trolling cowbells, tipped with worms, throughout the reservoir. No report for yellow perch and walleye, however, trolling worm harnesses in 20-35 feet of water this time of year produces the best results. Adam Strainer, FWP, Helena
Hauser: Great rainbow fishing can be found while trolling cowbells or spoons around White Sandy and the Causeway. Shore fishing is also productive for rainbows at the Causeway Bridge and below Canyon Ferry Dam on worms, Powerbait or Wooly Buggers. A few walleye are being caught below Canyon Ferry Dam and in the Causeway on jigs with a worm, especially at night or early morning. Troy Humphrey, FWP, Helena
Holter: Rainbow fishing is good while trolling cowbells in the lower reservoir from Split Rock to the dam and in the canyon by Gates of the Mountains. Rainbows are being caught from shore at Departure Point and Log Gulch while using worms. Perch and walleye fishing were really slow this past weekend. Troy Humphrey, FWP, Helena
Fort Peck and Canyon Ferry Spawning Report 2018
April 24, 2018
After what seemed to be a winter that would never end, things have finally decided to break loose on Fort Peck Reservoir. We managed to get holding pens, barges, and trap nets set over the weekend even though there was still ice cover on most of the main lake. Today was our second day of the season checking trap nets and collecting walleye. Water surface temperatures varied greatly from one location to another in the upper Big Dry Arm where our trap nets have been placed. In some of the shallower locations, we’ve observed water surface temperatures close to 55 degrees, but water surface temperatures towards the main lake are still in the low 40’s. As a result we’ve been seeing a combination of green (holding eggs), ripe (releasing eggs), and spent(released their eggs) female walleye.
We’ve managed to hold two egg-takes since we’ve started due to a decent number of ripe female walleye collected. We collected approximately 3.2 million eggs on Monday and 2.7 million eggs on Tuesday giving us 5.9 million walleye eggs thus far. We also collected 1.1 million pike eggs that will be used to meet stocking requests for certain waterbodies in eastern Montana for 2018.
Photo: Ripe female walleye waiting to be spawned
Photo: Ryan Lott collecting eggs from a ripe female walleye
Photo: Hank Poeschl, Mark Sigler, and Ed Dodge with a female walleye collected from a trap net
April 28, 2018
The weather has cooperated for the most part over the last few days in the Big Dry Arm of Fort Peck Reservoir. Water surface temperatures today in our trap netting locations ranged from 55 degrees in the far upper portions to 44 degrees further down the reservoir. As a result, we continue to see a mixed bag in the condition of female walleye being collected with a combination of greens, ripe, and spent fish.
Given the much later start and variable water temperatures throughout the reservoir, it’s not surprising we’re seeing spent female walleye along with ripes and greens in our trap net catches. The good news is we’ve still managed to capture enough ripe and have a few more green females ripen up so we can collect a few more eggs. Since the last update, we’ve managed to hold two more small egg-takes which will bring our total close to 12 million eggs. It looks like there might be a cold front moving our way, but we’ll continue to plug along and see what we can do.
Photo: Sorting through a trap net full of fish
Photo: Sean Lott with a big green female walleye being transferred to a holding pen
Photo: Ron, Jacob, and AJ Hunziker with a female walleye
April 30th 2018
The weather has cooled a bit from the warm temperatures we experienced over the weekend in the Big Dry Arm of Fort Peck Reservoir. It’s hard to believe air temperatures yesterday were in the 70’s, and today we only had a daytime high in the upper 40’s and bundled up! Water surface temperatures are ranging from 47 degrees to 56 degrees throughout our trap netting locations. We’re continuing to collect good numbers of walleye, but the condition of females captured hasn’t been conducive to collecting large amounts of eggs.
Trap net catches continue to be comprised of either ripe or spent female walleye with very few greens. The lack of green females, which typically ripen up in the holding pens and contribute to our effort, have given us fewer fish to spawn this season. However, we did manage to hold another small egg-take since the last update due to the ripe females captured the past couple days. We managed to collect approximately 3.5 million eggs on Sunday which should put us a little over 15 million eggs thus far. It looks like the weather will start to warm up over the next few days so we’ll plug along and see what we can do.
Photo: Jack Boonstra wrangling some wily walleye
Photo: Jack Boonstra with a huge smallmouth buffalo
May 4, 2018
The weather has really warmed in the Big Dry Arm of Fort Peck Reservoir. Water surface temperatures throughout our trap netting locations have been ranging from 50 to 58 degrees. However, we haven’t seen much of an increase in walleye spawning activity and it’s likely things may be winding down based on what we’ve been finding in our trap nets.
A majority of the female walleye captured in trap nets continue to be spent with very few greens. We’ve continued to capture ripe female walleye, but their numbers appear to be decreasing as well. Despite the decrease in numbers, the numbers of ripe females captured have given us a few more fish to spawn.
The steady trickle of ripe females captured has allowed us to hold three small egg-takes since the last update. Each egg-take we’ve managed to collect roughly 1.5 to 2 million more eggs. This should bring our total to approximately 20 million eggs. We plan on continuing through the weekend in hopes to collect a few more eggs to add to the total.
Photo: Richard Lockman with a healthy green female walleye
Photo: Sorting through a trap net full of fish
May 15, 2018
Well, it’s been an interesting walleye spawning season this year on Fort Peck Reservoir. It seems like the weather went from winter straight into summer. Water surface temperatures in the upper Big Dry Arm have been ranging from 56 to 66 degrees throughout our trap netting locations. These warmer temperatures have led to a dwindling number of walleye, but other species have taken their place as temperatures are becoming favorable for their spawning. Based on this, we’ve decided to pulled our nets for the 2018 season.
Not only have there been fewer numbers of walleyes collected in the trap nets, but a majority of females collected continue to be spent. Fortunately, we have managed to collect a handful of ripe female walleye to hold two more small egg takes since the last update. These two small egg collections have given us close to 2 million more eggs to add to our total. This should give us close to 22 million total eggs for the season which was half our goal of 50 million eggs. So what does this mean?
It looks like there should be enough eggs, which will turn into fry, to stock the rearing ponds for fingerling production; however, there will likely be very few walleye fry plants. Fort Peck Reservoir receives a majority of the walleye fry stockings so it will be impacted the most. Even though fewer eggs were collected this year, it is possible that the high number of spent females captured this year spawned on their own which could compensate for the loss of fry plants. Increasing water levels have created more spawning and rearing habitat which should also lead to improved forage conditions. These factors can greatly aid in the survival of any naturally reproduced or stocked walleyes.
On behalf of the fisheries and hatchery staff, I would like to thank all the volunteers who assisted in this year’s walleye spawning operation. We all look forward to seeing you again next year and best of luck fishing.
Photo: Fish culturist Bob Braund with a large female walleye
Photo: Sean Uy with a BIG bigmouth buffalo
Photo: James Poitra with a channel catfish enjoying the warm water
Monthly Fishing Tips
New Honey Holes on Old Favorites
By Next Bite
We've all had those moments while fishing where we simply can't believe what just happened. Maybe it was watching a larger fish latch onto a smaller fish that you were reeling in or the time you put on the ugliest lure in your tackle box and caught the biggest fish of your life. Of course, it is always fun to watch someone fight a huge fish and when it comes to the surface it turns out to be an old shoe!
Chances are if you fish small lakes for walleyes you have your "go to" spots, but there are probably a lot of areas that are holding fish that you have passed by for years not even knowing it. By learning how to dissect a lake, we guarantee you will add another one of those "I can't believe it" moments to your memory bank when you start catching fish in a spot you never thought to try.
Beginning with opening weekend, through the next three weeks after, one of the easiest ways to find new places where fish congregate is to pull up the map of the lake on your Lowrance. During this time of year, you will want to pinpoint areas that are six feet or less on or near shorelines. This is done by going to "Depth Highlighting" on your unit and setting the maximum to six feet. This will shade in all the areas that are six feet and under, giving you a quick visual of all these spots on the lake. In addition to working shorelines and back bays, you can check out sunken humps, but only if they are close to shore.
The purpose of this is to be able to easily identify places to hit while trying to cover the entire lake looking for fish. You will hit each of these areas with a 1-2 punch. The first punch you will throw is casting a #6 Berkley Flicker Shad and letting it slowly bounce bottom as you reel it back in. The #6 Flicker Shad is neutrally buoyant and made with casting in mind. If there are active fish in the area they will smack the bait!
To get the most casting power, you will want to use a one-piece Bass Pro Shops Walleye Angler 7' Medium Light rod with an extra fast tip (Model WY70MLLXFS) If you prefer longer rods, you can go up to a 7'6" model. Pair the rod with a Bass Pro Shops Johnny Morris spinning reel (Model JMS10) which is made for delivering long casts. By spooling the reel with gray or green 8lb. or 10lb. Berkley NanoFil you will be able to cast a mile! Ok, maybe not a mile, but quite a distance! Since this line is also very sensitive, it will telegraph if there is debris stuck on the hooks or if a fish takes a swipe at the bait.
You will want to move through the targeted areas quickly, trying to get the first bite. Once you find one fish, put the MotorGuide Xi5 trolling motor into "Anchor" mode to hold the boat in place while you continue casting to search for more fish. You can move a few feet in either direction by hitting the "jog" button.
When you stop getting bites on the Flicker Shad, it is time to mop up the area by hitting them with the second punch. This is the time to bring out the jig and artificial tail to get a few bonus fish! We like to have two rods ready to go. One with a 1/16 oz. Bass Pro Shops XPS jig and the other with a Berkley Snap Jig, which is new to the market this year. Both jigs have different actions to try to entice a bite. The Bass Pro Shops XPS Walleye Jigs have a "semi-stand-up" design. This means that as the jig sits on the bottom, the hook is angled up, putting it in perfect position for a fish to inhale the offering and increasing your odds of getting a hook-up. The Berkley Snap Jig has a "V" shaped fin that gives it a gliding action on the fall and a darting action when snapped.
Both jigs are dynamite when paired with a 2 1/2-inch Berkley Gulp! Minnow. Work the bait by letting the jig drop down to bottom, then hold the rod still and let the jig swim back to you. Keep repeating this cadence all the way back to the boat. If you move up to an 1/8 oz. jig, use a 3-inch Gulp! Minnow or Berkley PowerBait Twitchtail Minnow. One of the neat things about the Twitchtail Minnow is no matter how hard you try, the tail never stops moving! Just cast it out and do a slow lift and hold as you retrieve it. If you are fishing in tannic water, go with the Clear Golden Shiner color. In clear water we like to use Watermelon Pearl for a natural looking bait.
Once you have thoroughly covered the initial area where you caught fish, don't be afraid to move 100 feet in either direction in case there is a large school in the area. This approach is very similar to what bass fishermen do to dissect a spot they believe is holding fish, by showing them several presentations to see which one gets the best reaction. After you have exhausted an area, check the map you highlighted on your Lowrance for the next place to hit. It’s not uncommon to be able to cover an entire lake in half a day. You will be amazed at how easy it is to get your Next Bite with how many fish you will find!