Beginning this spring, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks’ Butte-area fisheries biologist Jim Olsen and his crew are tracking fish in the Big Hole River and they need anglers’ help.
Olsen and his crew are tagging approximately 10,000 fish over the next four years, mainly rainbow and brown trout, as well as a few cutthroats, whitefish and brook trout, to gather data about the movements and growth of these specific populations in the Big Hole River.
The crew will collect data from anglers who fish on the Big Hole from the BLM East Bank Fishing Access Site near Wise River to the FWP Pennington Bridge Fishing Access Site near Twin Bridges.
Anglers on the Jefferson and lower Beaverhead Rivers should also keep an eye out for tagged fish.
All of the fish are fit with a uniquely numbered blue tag at the base of the dorsal fin. Anglers are asked to pick up data cards (small enough to fit in a pocket) from an FWP box at any of the fishing access sites between East Bank and Pennington.
When an angler catches a fish, he or she should report on the card the species of fish, where it was caught, its approximate length and weight, and whether it was kept or released.
Completed cards can be returned to any FWP office or to one of the boxes at fishing access sites between East bank and Pennington.
Over four-year study with recaptures of individual fish, FWP will get a better sense of where the fish move and if trout from the lower river are moving upstream into areas traditionally inhabited primarily by grayling and brook trout. The data will also help FWP better understand how drought, river temperatures, and overall fish densities affect trout growth, leading to better fisheries management.
For more information, contact FWP Butte-area fisheries biologist Jim Olsen at firstname.lastname@example.org.