Wild and native trout in Montana are essential to our ecosystem, but they face several threats that may impact future trout populations.
According to the Montana Wild and Native Trout Coalition, Montana has become a world-class fishing spot. Still, that title is in jeopardy now that trout habitats are shrinking from earlier snowmelts and early fire seasons. During the summer months, rivers are relatively warmer with low river flow. Warm temps in waters physically stress trout and can potentially kill them, which is why hoot owl regulations are implemented for rivers in the summer.
Another threat to trout populations and Montana fisheries is the amount of non-native, predatory fish like walleye and Northern Pike introduced in waters that prey on trout. Aquatic invasive species like zebra mussels are another threat to fisheries that can severely affect ecosystems fast. This reason alone is why you should always take your boat to an AIS check-in booth before entering any body of water. It is also vital to ensure your boat is cleaned, dried, and drained.
Since trout stocking programs ended in the 1970s, Montana has become world-renowned for managing wild and native trout. Organizations like the Trout Coalition use science-based research in the proper management of Montana fisheries that help maintain and improve them. They also strive to manage pure gene banks of native, wild trout like Bull and Cutthroat.
Gaining the recognition of trout management was not earned overnight. It took researchers and anglers years to improve trout habitat through restoration projects and fisheries management based on fact-based scientific research.
Click here to learn the regulations for the 2022 fishing season to ensure you are fishing correctly, which helps to maintain trout and other fish populations in Montana.