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HomeNewsMontana NewsGianforte, FWP Celebrate Encouraging Trout Counts in the Big Hole River

Gianforte, FWP Celebrate Encouraging Trout Counts in the Big Hole River

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks  Director Dustin Temple, joined by Governor Greg Gianforte, recently celebrated an uptick in trout numbers at a habitat improvement project along the Big Hole River.

Governor Gianforte expressed his satisfaction with the trout counts in the river, emphasizing its importance to Montanans’ livelihoods. He commended FWP for addressing community concerns over declining populations and praised their commitment to finding effective solutions. During his visit near Wise River, the governor received an update from an FWP biologist on the results of the annual spring fish population survey. The survey revealed stable or increased counts of brown and rainbow trout in all sections of the river, with a notable increase in the number of 2-year-old trout, marking the highest sample of young juvenile fish collected in six years.

FWP Biologist Jim Olsen highlighted the significance of this data, noting that while still below long-term averages, the numbers are promising. He emphasized the importance of healthy juvenile populations for sustainable fishery management.

The visit to the habitat project site followed a roundtable discussion convened by the governor and FWP nearly a year ago, which brought together stakeholders to address declining trout populations in the Jefferson Basin. In response to these declines, FWP invested $3.2 million last year in monitoring efforts along the Big Hole River.

Director Temple underscored the agency’s commitment to southwest Montana’s rivers, reaffirming FWP’s priority to protect and enhance these valuable resources. He praised FWP biologists for their dedicated efforts and expressed optimism about the future of the fishery.

To further understand the causes of population declines, FWP partnered with Montana State University (MSU) to launch research initiatives studying fish mortality, juvenile populations, and fish health. MSU professor Dr. Alexander Zale highlighted their collaborative efforts with FWP and local stakeholders, expressing enthusiasm for the progress being made in identifying key factors affecting trout populations.

Overall, the collaborative efforts between FWP, Governor Gianforte’s administration, and MSU aim to bolster conservation efforts and ensure the long-term health of Montana’s rivers and fisheries.

By: Montana Newsroom staff

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