Fresno Dam was completed in 1939 as part of the Milk River Project, providing water for irrigation in the lower Milk River Valley.
Fresno Reservoir has become one of the most popular recreation areas in North Central Montana and is known as one of the best warm-water
fisheries in the state.
Miles of undeveloped shoreline provide some of the best Montana fishing, boating, hunting and wildlife viewing available.
Fresno Reservoir has an elevation of 2575 feet. There are 7,388 surface acres, 25,618 land acres and 65 miles of shoreline.
An estimated $15 million is generated annually in recreation benefits in the Milk River Basin according to a 2002 study done by the Bureau of
The Fresno Wildlife Management Area includes 2,677 acres on the upper end of the reservoir. Administered by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, this
area provides hunting, hiking and wildlife viewing.
American White Pelican
Foster’s Tern Gadwall
|According to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, wild bird and game bird species include:
Great Blue Heron
Game Fish include:
Other fish present include:
Sauger X Walleye Hybrid
Western Silvery Minnow
With views of the Bear Paw Mountains to the south, the majestic Big Sky overhead, stunning rock formations and large stands of trees, Fresno
Reservoir is truly a Montana treasure.
Fresno offers a wealth of habitat for many wildlife species. Canada geese fly overhead, shorebirds leave their tracks in the sand, and an abundance of
ducks swim in the waters of the lake. Pelicans, gulls, cliff swallows, and majestic blue herons are permanent summer residents. Grebes troll the water,
and the haunting songs of loons echo across the lake.
Fresno Reservoir provides excellent fishing opportunities for walleye, northern pike, and perch. It is rated as one of Montana’s best warm water fishing
locations. Walleye fishermen from all over the country make Fresno a destination point. Every year a number of seven to ten pound walleye are caught
as well as northern pike in the 20 pound class. The reservoir is also a popular place for ice fishing during the winter months.
Boating enthusiasts from all over the state use Fresno Reservoir during the summer months. With its large expanse of navigable water, it provides
plenty of space for skiers, speedboats, sailboats, kayaks, and, of course, the ever-present fishing boats. Camping and recreation facilities are
provided by the Bureau of Reclamation and the Fresno Chapter of Walleyes Unlimited.
The construction of Fresno Dam was completed in 1939 as part of the Milk River Project, impounding the Milk River to form Fresno Reservoir. Its
primary purpose is storage for irrigation. Almost from its inception, however, the reservoir has been used for recreation.
When the Milk River Project brought a more stable source of water to the high plains of northern Montana, the creation of Fresno Reservoir did not
just benefit the lives of those who farm the land. The lives of thousands of people - those who call this land their home and those who come to visit -
are enhanced by one of the best outdoor recreation areas Montana has to offer.
The Milk River Project, one of the first irrigation projects in the United States, provides flood protection and a more reliable water supply for irrigation
and municipal use.
The cities of Havre, Chinook and Harlem, along with the Hill County Rural Water Project, have contracts with the Bureau of Reclamation for municipal
water, providing residential water to thousands of people.
Irrigation water is provided for about 121,000 acres within the Milk River Basin with approximately 160 contract holders and 200 pumps on the Milk
Fresno Dam is owned and operated by the Bureau of Reclamation. As required by the 1902 Reclamation Act, most of the financial burden for
operation and maintenance of the system is paid for by the contract holders, primarily irrigators, who use the water.
The Bureau of Reclamation owns and operates Fresno Dam and also administers public recreation on the federal lands surrounding the reservoir.
Fresno Reservoir offers a variety of recreational facilities. The Bureau of Reclamation maintains six areas with vault toilets and camping areas,
primarily on the lower end of the reservoir. The main boat ramp on the east side of the lake provides paved access, a large paved parking area, and
an overlook pavilion.
Kremlin Bay, located on the west side of the reservoir, has gravel road access and a paved boat ramp. It is one of the more popular camping areas on
Other areas include Jaycee's Beach, Boat Dock Bay, Kiehn’s Bay and Fresno Beach.
Another popular camping area is owned and managed by the Fresno Chapter of Walleyes Unlimited on the east side of the reservoir, directly above
the main beach.
Several privately owned cabins on federal land at Fresno are managed under lease agreements with the Bureau of Reclamation.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks manages the area located immediately below Fresno Dam as a fishing access site. This area has been recently
upgraded with a handicapped accessible fishing dock.
|Fishing Habitat Projects
Fresno Reservoir (Hill County)
Spawning and rearing habitat enhancement on Fresno Reservoir, located near the city of Havre. This project involved
anchoring salvaged Christmas trees and root wads in known spawning locations to benefit yellow perch.
|WHY FRESNO RESERVOIR IS SO SPECIAL