Red Rocks Lake Wildlife Refuge Could See Regulation Changes
By Jackalope Jordan

Posted: April 24, 2018

Anglers in Red Rocks Lake National Wildlife Refuge could see some changes in fishing regulations in the area soon.

Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission proposed changes including no harvest of cutthroat trout on Red Rock Creek, seasonal closures and permission of only artificial lures on some waterways within the refuge, according to Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

The changes are up for comment until May 23 at 5 p.m. FWP issued the following news release on Tuesday.

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is seeking public comment on proposed fishing regulation changes for Red Rocks Lake National Wildlife Refuge. Comments will be accepted through Wednesday, May 23 at 5 p.m.

The proposed regulation changes are the following:

  • change the daily and possession limits for Red Rock Creek to include no harvest of cutthroat trout and use of artificial lures only,
  • close Elk Springs Creek to angling from May 15 to June 15 and allow use of artificial lures only, and
  • close Widgeon and Culver Ponds from Nov. 30 to April 15 and allow use of artificial lures only.

FWP, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other partners worked collaboratively to develop an adaptive management plan to understand factors that drive the status of Arctic grayling in Red Rock Creek in the Centennial Valley. In 2013, harvest limits of hybridized Yellowstone cutthroat trout were increased and USFWS used active trapping and removal to suppress the population to determine the effect that the non-native fish were having on Arctic grayling.

After four years of suppression, it became apparent that the non-native cutthroat hybrids were not the primary driver of Arctic grayling abundance. Therefore, in 2017, FWP changed the harvest regulation to five of any size and began to evaluate other factors in the valley that may be influencing the conservation status of Arctic grayling.

USFWS approached FWP and requested to change the harvest regulation for non-native Yellowstone cutthroat trout to catch-and-release and use of artificial lures only. USFWS also requested that the angling season for the adjacent Elk Springs Creek be closed from May 15 to June 15 to prevent trampling of grayling eggs and to be consistent with Red Rock Creek.

USFWS requested that the angling season for Widgeon and Culver ponds be closed to angling from Nov. 30 to April 15 to minimize conflicts with migrating and pre-nesting swans. They also requested that the regulations be changed to allow use of artificial lures only on each of these waterbodies.

The public comment period will be open for 30 days and comments will be accepted through Wednesday, May 23at 5pm. The public is invited to comment online at http://fwp.mt.gov/news/publicNotices/fishing/pn_0085.html. Comment letters also may be mailed to: Fisheries Division, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Fisheries, P.O. Box 200701, Helena, MT 59620-0701. For further information about these proposals, please email Eric Roberts at eroberts@mt.gov.

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