After several years working with multiple agencies and organizations in an attempt to restore native bull trout and cutthroat trout in northwest Montana the MT FWP appears to be walking away from the discussion. Here is an article from the Button Valley Bugle and Daily Inter Lake discussing the issue.
Like everything else, it all comes down to the $$. Currently the lake trout fishery is worth more $$ compared to the native fish population in our area. If you look at the lake trout issue in Yellowstone, there is NO question about removing them. They have even talked about poisoning them out. The cutthroat population in Yellowstone obviously has more support / value than the lake trout population and there is not a large group of locals ready to throw blows over their removal.
The problem with the Flathead is the FWP created a vibrant destination lake trout fishery that supports the local community. Once you establish a large group of opposition it is likely you will get a couple black eyes by trying to remove it. You can’t blame them…..I would be pissed if they wanted to remove my livelihood as well. Indirectly, the lake trout will eventually take care of that.
Here is another link in support of native trout in the Flathead. Save The Jewel
- Flathead River March Fishing Update - Mar 19, 2023
- Mid March - Mar 13, 2023
- Spring Fishing | Flathead River | Flathead Valley - Mar 3, 2023
By the way, the “large group of opposition” is 9 commercial lake trout outfitters. They will still be left with nearly a million lake trout which will likely be larger and more healthy. That’s more fish than were around when the lake trout outfitters started. With any luck, we will be left with 30-40% more, and larger, cutthroats and hopefully a fishable population of bull trout in the river which will more than compensate for any loss in lake fishing.
The biased article about the backpedaling by FWP appears this week in the Bigfork Eagle. You can make comments on the Eagle website, or write an LTE to the paper. http://bit.ly/yhZhDK
How can you even compare laketrout and Westslopes and Bulltrout.There are a number of lakes in several states where you can catch exotic laketrout which have outcompeted the native fish.There are only a couple of places in Idaho and a couple of places in Montana where you can catch native Bulltrout and Westslope Cuttroats .The Flathead is our best bet to recover our native fish.If we lower laketrout numbers enough in Flathead Lake we will have more Bulls and Cuts.The river fishing will more than offset the loss of lake trout fishing.Anyone can fish the river with a relatively small investment.You need an investment of thousands of dollars(boats,motors,downriggers,electric fishfinders,etc.)to fish laketrout,which don’t belong in the Flathead.Let’s recover our native fish in the Flathead,with or without fwp.
I’m not trying to compare. There is no comparison in my mind. But FWP doesn’t agree apparently. I attended the public meeting in Kalispell and there were over 200 people there. I was one of two fly fishing outfitters in the room. The entire room was in support of the lake trout fishery. It was surprising to me actually, I thought there would be more support from the Valley fly fishing community.
I was at the same meeting. Loudest doesn’t equate to numbers. There were plenty of people there who supported native fish, but were afraid to speak up for fear of being shouted down. I have to believe that there is plenty of support. We are not talking about removing lake trout. We are talking about reducing the numbers to where they were when there was good fishing for both lake trout and bull trout in the lake. Talk to a few of the old-timers about what we used to have and how they feel about losing that. There is plenty of support for native fish, what we need to do is mobilize that support. It’s not as easy as it sounds, but that is what we must do to win.
Forget any compromise. Lake trout are bad mojo all the way around and and any way you cut it in the flathead system. If we had a reset button, I’d push it right now! Even if it meant zero fish for a number of years.