Anglers can help in trout study

Trout declines in Big Hole, Beaverhead, Ruby and Madison rivers, montana living, fly fishing in montana

Trout declines in Big Hole, Beaverhead, Ruby and Madison rivers

Fish populations in the upper Missouri River basin are declining, and Montana Fish, WIldilfe and Parks needs your help.

FWP is asking anglers to report catching tagged fish, in aneffort to learn more about fish populations in the Big Hole, Beaverhead, Ruby and Madison rivers of Montana.

FWP has been tagging fish in these rivers. The tagging effort is part of ongoing research that aims to address trout declines n the upper Missouri River Basin. Staff plan to tag fish each year for the next three years. With help from anglers, these tags will help researchers identify individual fish and monitor their health, survival, movement and other indicators over time.

Each tag has a number that is attached to the fish near the dorsal fin. Anglers who catch a tagged fish should use clippers to remove the tag as close to the skin as possible while minimizing handling time and exposure to air, then submit a report for each tagged fish they catch. These reports will include information such as the tag number, date, location, condition of the fish, gear type used, and whether the angler released or harvested the fish.

upper missouri river, montana living, fly fishing in montana, beaverhead, ruby, big hole, madison rivers trout decline

Anglers who submit reports may also be eligible for rewards. Blue tags will be entered into a drawing for gear and fishing trips. Yellow tags are each worth $100.

Anglers can submit reports by visiting or by calling 406-994-2384.

Anglers play a critical role in this study, Mike Duncan, FWP’s fisheries program manager in southwestern Montana, said. When they submit reports on tagged fish, they are helping gather important information on the health of the fishery.

Anglers and other recreationists may also see creel clerks from Montana State University while they’re on the river. These clerks will be interviewing recreationists as part of the research effort.

The Montana trout research began last year when annual sampling found fish populatinos to be near historic lows in sections of these rivers. Since then, FWP has been working closely with MSU in hiring three PhD students and additional staff to study fish mortality, recruitment and health.


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