Spotted Eagle Fishery – Who’s Out There
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (MFWP) have completed annual
fish surveys for the last six years at Spotted Eagle Reservoir.
Surveys were accomplished using 5-7 hoop nets set for 24 hours.
The surveys found a fish population composed of 21 different
species. A total of 5,240 fish were collected from the six-year
effort. This equates to an annual total catch of 873 fish or an
average of 138 fish per net per 24-hour period.
The most abundant species by percentage of total catch was:
black crappie – 66%, black bullheads – 12%, white crappie – 12 %,
and bluegill – 4%. Collectively the other 17 species made up the
remaining 6% of the total catch. Other game species found were
channel catfish, northern pike, walleye, small mouth and large
Spotted Eagle was created in 1961 when a gravel pit was dug to
furnish material for the Ft. Keogh and Broadus interchanges on
Interstate-94. Consequently, the soil at the bottom of Spotted
Eagle has little to no natural nutrients to stimulate aquatic
vegetation growth. This creates significant problems in
establishing a naturally recruiting fish population.
Aquatic vegetation, along with plankton, is one of the principle
components to a functioning pond/lake. Vegetation provides food
and hiding cover for aquatic invertebrates, which in turn feed the
fish. Some fish species like northern pike and yellow perch need
aquatic vegetation to successfully spawn. The vegetation also
provides hiding and rearing cover for juvenile fish.
Artificial habitat improvements have been installed for the last
five years and consis ted of Christmas tree reefs and ceramic pipe
clusters. The trees provide an alternative to aquatic vegetation
and the pipes provide additional rearing cover and spawning
locations for catfish. The crappie population is doing well
because they do not require aquatic vegetation to reproduce. The
fishery is supplemented with periodic stocking by MFWP with the
following species: channel catfish, smallmouth and largemouth bass,
yellow perch, walleye and northern pike.