Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks issued an emergency regulation Thursday requiring anglers to turn in any northern pike caught in Lake Mary Ronan.
Seven miles west of Flathead Lake, Lake Mary Ronan is a popular fishing site and a prized fishery for several species, including kokanee salmon, according to FWP’s Dillon Tabish.
“It’s a beautiful lake to go fishing in that provides, really, the sole source eggs for Montana for kokanee salmon,” Tabish says.
Anglers must report northern pike catches within 24 hours, and turn in the whole fish within 10 days.
“We’re going to start to identify, OK, was this fish dropped in here, was it born here. By also looking at the size of the fish and other elements, we can decide how healthy that population is,” Tabish says.
The Montana Field Guide lists the pike as a voracious fish-eater that can wipe out its food source in a couple years. FWP will use the new information to create a management plan.
The new regulation comes after a northern pike caught in 2018 confirmed that the species is breeding in the lake.