The South Fork Flathead Westslope Cutthroat Trout Conservation Program continues this fall with rotenone treatments of Graves Creek and Lower Big Hawk Lake. The following trail and road closures will be in effect during these projects:
Graves Creek: During the week of September 15th, Graves Creek Trail #1 from Trail #719 to Road #897 and Graves Creek Road #897 above Handkerchief Lake will be closed to public use. Graves Creek will be treated to remove hybrid fish.
Big Hawk Lake: During the week of September 22nd, Big Hawk Lake Trail #722 will be closed to public use. Big Hawk Lake will be treated to remove hybrid fish. A number of anglers have taken advantage of the lifting of angling limits on this particular lake to catch and keep good numbers of hybrid fish ahead of the treatment.
Report on Black and Blackfoot Lakes: Populations of fish and aquatic life are back: Last fall Montana Fish, Wildlife, & Parks began implementation of this multi-year program with rotenone treatments of Black and Blackfoot lakes. Both lakes were restocked this summer with westslope cutthroat trout (including catchable-size fish) and anglers have reported catching fish up to 13 or more inches in length. Post-treatment surveys also monitor insects, amphibians, and plankton and indicate recovery of these aquatic communities following rotenone treatment. In a visit to Black and Blackfoot lakes on September 10, good catch rates of westslope cutthroat trout on dry flies were noted with fish ranging from 6-14 inches. Cutthroat trout were rising steadily to a heavy emergence of diptera flies and mayflies. Frog tadpoles and a range of aquatic insects were noted around the lakes.
The Westslope Cutthroat Trout Conservation Project will treat up to 21 high mountain lakes spread over a 10-year period (about two lakes per year) in the late fall using rotenone, a fish toxicant, to remove hybrid fish. The hybrid fish will be removed so they won’t interbreed with westslope cutthroat trout downstream in the South Fork of the Flathead River. The treated lakes will then be restocked the following spring with pure westslope cutthroat trout.
For more information please visit the project location on the FWP website http://fwp.mt.gov/regions/r1/wctproject/default.html or contact the project biologist, Matt Boyer at (406) 751-4556