Opinion: Flooding’s effect on the fishMy fishing boat, though Spartan in nature, has a live well under the center seat. There are no pumps or batteries. When I want to keep a fish, I lift the lid on the center seat, pull the plug in the bottom of the chamber, and watch it fill with water to the same level as the waterline outside the boat. The water constantly circulates. At the end of the outing, the live well drains when I crank the boat onto the trailer. I remove the fish and replace the plug. It is pure simplicity that does nothing but work!
By: Roger Wiltz, The Daily Republic
My fishing boat, though Spartan in nature, has a live well under the center seat. There are no pumps or batteries. When I want to keep a fish, I lift the lid on the center seat, pull the plug in the bottom of the chamber, and watch it fill with water to the same level as the waterline outside the boat. The water constantly circulates. At the end of the outing, the live well drains when I crank the boat onto the trailer. I remove the fish and replace the plug. It is pure simplicity that does nothing but work!
During the recent week of rain, my little boat sat in the garage for a number of days with about a half inch of water in the live well as the live well doesn’t completely drain. When I was preparing to go fishing after the above mentioned break, I happened to lift the lid and look into the live well. At least 100 half-inch long fry were swimming around in the well! An hour later, releasing them into the river was a simple matter. I simply pulled the plug while the boat was in motion.
I don’t know exactly what they were, and I wished I had an aquarium so I could put a few in it and follow their progress. As far as species is concerned, the possibilities include catfish, smallmouth bass and walleyes. With all three, I had males and females in the well together.
When I filleted the cats, they were very close to spawning. The walleyes were oozing milt and eggs when I put them in the well, but it had been almost a month earlier. I can probably eliminate them as they would have been flushed from the tank.
The bass were probably a few weeks from spawning, so the catfish are my most likely suspects. These fry appeared to be husky at the shoulders — perhaps a sign that they were cats.
I’ve always assumed that fish incubation was an exact science requiring water temperature control, light control, water quality control, etc. Apparently, my garage and my live well just happened to offer an ideal environment.
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The recent excessive rains caused much flooding. The creek that runs into the southwest corner of Wagner Lake ran over Highway 50, and the high water washed over the top of the dam. This happened with many lakes and stock dams, not just Wagner Lake. The question being kicked around right now by local sportsmen is, did we lose our fish to the flooding?
In my humble opinion, we lost some but not all.
I say this because fish tend to swim into the current. When we have this flooding, carp and catfish will leave our rivers and swim up creeks like the Choteau. So do walleyes. When we lived at Parkston, fishing walleyes in the James River beneath the spillway at Milltown was a favorite haunt of mine.
Those walleyes wanted to move up. When we lived at Willow Lake, I loved to fish for northern pike beneath the James River spillway at Huron. The northern also wanted to move up. I believe our prairie lake bass will do the same thing. I’d certainly be interested in your thoughts on this subject.
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The “new” Lake Henry at Scotland is the finest little recreational impoundment I’ve ever seen. The planning and engineering, the quality of the docks and concrete boat ramps, the picnic facilities, the stout concrete spillway and the overall quality of the reservoir as a fishery is outstanding. Acres of flooded timber will provide great habitat for game fish, especially crappies, for years to come.
As a community, Scotland, with its historic, picturesque homes, sporty golf course within city limits, fine schools and the above-mentioned fishery, is a very tempting place to live. The Scotland people worked hard for a long time to make the reconstruction of their lake a reality, and they are to be commended.
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West River rifle deer applications will be out soon if they aren’t already. The application deadline is July 23. The same is true for Black Hills deer. See you next week.