Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks trap nets every spring at Fort Peck Reservoir to help spawn walleye for the spring and summer. This year, they're delayed due to all the ice out on the water.
Fishing season is rapidly approaching, but for everyone that wants to get out on Fort Peck Lake, that time is yet to come due to all the ice jamming up efforts to get on the lake. Varying weather has left the reservoir frozen for as far as the eye can see.
"We have an annual trap netting a collection effort out here for Walleye and Fort Peck, and that effort actually produces walleye fry and fingerlings that get stocked back into Fort Peck, along with a handful of other water bodies in eastern and central Montana," FWP biologist Heath Headley explained. "We go out with volunteers and everyone is welcome to join us. Obviously, with the ice, we can't get out to trap net walleye, collect the eggs, and it's really going to slow up their spawning process more than likely. Mother Nature is is the ultimate decision maker in this instance, you know, and we just kind of have to wait on her for decide things and and let us get out there when we can."
Although they are delayed, FWP knows they'll have volunteers from all over come to Fort Peck like they do every year.
One of those volunteers is Don Schlegelmilch from Laurel, who has made the trek up to Fort Peck for 20 years now. He's fished most his life, and once he started to become a part of the trap netting, he hasn't looked back and is now an integral part of the efforts, being one of the longest tenured volunteers.
"I started there just to learn, but I just. Those guys are so neat. They're on such a mission. And I just love those guys. They're just dedicated. And so whenever I can, I will help them out. That's the reason I keep going back this year. I guess it's just a waiting game to see what's going to happen. I'm sure it's going to be the very latest we've started since I've been going up but as soon as they need me, I'll be up there."
For now, it's a waiting game, but when the ice melts, it's game on.
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