In June, Fish and Game staff teamed up with a local Boy Scouts of America chapter in Payette and Eagle Scout candidate Ethan Bergener of Nampa, to deploy 50 artificial habitat structures in C. Ben Ross Reservoir, which fisheries biologists hope will ultimately help grow bigger largemouth bass in this fishery. These structures were placed in locations to provide additional cover for juvenile fishes in the fall and over-winter when water levels are at their lowest after the reservoir has provided water for agricultural needs in the region.
C. Ben Ross Reservoir is a 360-acre waterbody located 16 miles south of Council that provides fishing opportunities for several warm water species. The reservoir is managed as a quality largemouth bass fishery with a special harvest rule in effect of two largemouth bass (daily limit), none between 12 and 16 inches.
“The special harvest rule is one component to growing big bass, but you also have to make sure the forage base is there,” says Mike Thomas, Regional Fisheries Biologist in McCall.
In 2010, fishery surveys showed low numbers of forage fish in the reservoir. In response, the department began transplanting crappie and bluegill from nearby waterbodies to supplement the forage base. To date, approximately 2,500 crappie and bluegill have been transplanted into the reservoir.
Unfortunately, recent surveys suggest that these efforts have been unsuccessful in bolstering numbers of forage fish. Perhaps biologists were barking up the wrong tree, and the reason transplanted fish were not successful at increasing overall forage abundance was simply due to a lack of adequate over-winter habitat to support them. So, fisheries biologists went back to the drawing board and teamed up with local Boy Scouts to increase the amount of habitat available to forage fishes in the reservoir.
Looking ahead, Fish and Game biologists will survey the reservoir in 2023/2024 to determine if these habitat structures have had any effect on overall numbers and growth rates of largemouth bass, crappie, and bluegill in C. Ben Ross reservoir.
For anglers interested in targeting largemouth bass at C. Ben Ross Reservoir, check out this recent blog. For further information about C. Ben Ross Reservoir and other fisheries in the McCall sub-region, contact the McCall Fish and Game office at (208) 634-8137 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.