By Hope Good

If Montana fish had a fan club, the club for the walleye would probably have the most members. Walleye live in some of the prettiest places in Montana, especially the big reservoirs on the wide-open prairies of eastern Montana. They are a challenge to catch and are delicious to eat.

After hatching, young walleyes grow quickly in waters with abundant food. In waters with less available food, they grow more slowly. Once walleyes grow over 12 to 14 inches long, they are the preferred size for anglers.

Walleyes travel in schools and they spend lots of time on the move searching for food. Although they can be caught by fishing from the bank, it often times requires a boat to locate the fish. Ice fishing is also a great way to catch walleyes.

Montana has some great areas for walleye fishing. The hottest spot is Fort Peck Reservoir, which at 382.8 square miles can seem more like an ocean than an inland reservoir. Walleyes are found across much of Montana, but they are most common in some of the large reservoirs in the eastern and central parts of the state.

The saying goes that 90 percent of the fish occupy 10 percent of the water. So when walleye anglers are confronted with a large water body, the hunt for fish holding water can be intimidating. Anglers can better their odds by keeping in mind that walleye love hanging out around structure. Lake profile maps are an invaluable tool. Pay particular attention to concentrated contour lines indicating a steep drop off. Also pay attention to mid-lake humps and bumps and target fish on the edges of this structure. Finding these variances in depth is best achieved with a boat-mounted sonar which not only displays the changes in depth but also bottom clutter indicating weed growth.

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