Bull Trout Declining in Montana, Anglers Can Help Preserve and Protect This Native Species

onWater Team
June 4, 2024
7 min read

Bull Trout Declining in Montana, Anglers Can Help Preserve and Protect This Native Species

onWater Team
June 4, 2024
7 min read
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Bull trout is a native trout species to many waters in the Columbia River drainage. However, their historic range has declined greatly in the past 50 years. After some inital growth in bull trout populations in the past decade or so, bull trout in many waters in western Montana are seeing a large decline. Most notably are trout numbers in Swan Lake, a once stronghold of bull trout.

From a recent article in Kalispell Montana's Daily Interlake:

“There’s a sense of urgency to do something before it's too late,” said Leo Rosenthal, a fisheries management biologist with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks in Region 1.

Bull trout, which are native to the valley, have struggled since the introduction of invasive species like lake trout, rainbow trout and mysis shrimp in the region. The decision to develop a plan to remove lake trout came after state biologists observed a historically low number of bull trout redds, or spawning nests, in the Swan’s watershed system in 2023.

Read the full article here.

And more from another recent story in the Daily Montanan:

“Once home to a large, stable bull trout population and popular kokanee fishery, Swan Lake has seen significant declines in abundance of both species while lake trout numbers have increased considerably,” FWP said.

As such, FWP is seeking public comment on a gillnetting plan in Swan Lake. Already, conservation advocates are lauding the renewed attention to the lake in the Swan Valley.

FWP outlined the proposed plan with a draft environmental assessment that is available to review online at https://fwp.mt.gov/news/public-notices.

The deadline to comment is June 28 at 5 p.m.

FWP is hosting two public information meetings to discuss the proposed project. The first meeting is June 4 at 6 p.m. at the FWP office in Kalispell, 490 N. Meridian. The second meeting is June 11 at 6 p.m. at the Swan Lake Chamber and Community Club, 22778 Montana Highway 83.

Comments can be submitted via email to fisheries biologist Leo Rosenthal at lrosenthal@mt.gov or regional fisheries manager Mike Hensler at mhensler@mt.gov, or via mail to Swan Lake EA, 490 N. Meridian, Kalispell, MT 59901.

To learn more about finding places in Montana to fish for bull trout, check out a recent article in Montana Fly Fishing Magazine by onWater's own Patrick Straub.

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