Sunday, April 7, 2013

Montana Fly Fishing: Clark Canyon Reservoir...

It's no secret Clark Canyon Reservoir has given up more than a fair share of trophy trout over the years. But for the past decade or so the lake's production of true trophy-sized trout (read trout 7-10 pounds or more) has been erratic. According to biologists the CCR's two main quality of fish drivers are reservoir level and the success of stocked fish. With the exception of 2006 year class success during the period 2000-2009 was poor overall.

Data suggested survival rates and growth were directly related to drought (low water) and poor timing of plants. Timing stocking to coincide with peak zooplankton, the primary food source for young trout, would seem to give the plants a better chance than dumping in early June (as had been the policy for decades) regardless the conditions.

So beginning in 2011 and continuing in 2012 stocking was indeed timed to coincide with peak zooplankton levels which occurred both years in July. The results were perhaps better than expected both years; but the 2011 year class is one of the stronger cohorts since 1990 and will likely be the dominant age group in the reservoir for the next several years.

How fast do CCR trout grow? Pretty damn fast: 1 1/2 year olds typically range between 17-19 inches; 2 1/2 year olds range from 18-22 inches, though it make take as many as 6 years to attain weights of 7-10 pounds.

For the rest of the story, stay tuned.

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