KALISPELL — Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks biologists are asking anglers for help with a research project involving westslope cutthroat trout and other trout species upstream of Cabinet Gorge Dam.
Biologists are conducting the project to learn more about Montana’s state fish in the lower Clark Fork River. Biologists have attached tags known as Floy tags near the dorsal fins of numerous westslope cutthroat trout, rainbow trout, brown trout, and brook trout this year. Anglers who catch a fish with a tag are asked to please report the tag number, catch location, date of catch, and if the fish was harvested at (406) 382-3034. Anglers who intend to release tagged fish can leave the tag intact, and those who keep a tagged fish can detach the tag and discard it.
Tags are being deployed in all westslope cutthroat trout transported upstream of Cabinet Gorge Dam. Additionally, resident salmonids have also been tagged in the Bull River. Tag return rates of both sets of fish will be used to evaluate angler catch rates of transported cutthroat trout. To address westslope cutthroat trout potential reproduction in Montana, genetics sampling will be conducted in the Bull River and tributaries over the next several years. This will allow biologists to determine if any fish captured are offspring of westslope cutthroat trout that have been transported over Cabinet Gorge Dam.
Since construction in 1952, Cabinet Gorge Dam has prevented passage of westslope cutthroat trout upstream from Lake Pend Oreille in Idaho to the Lower Clark Fork River and its tributaries in Montana. The experimental transport of westslope cutthroat trout upstream of Cabinet Gorge Dam was initiated in 2015 as part of the Clark Fork Settlement Agreement. The goal for this program is to reestablish connectivity for westslope cutthroat trout using Lake Pend Oreille, Idaho for growth and rearing and attempting to return to Montana tributaries to spawn. Westslope cutthroat trout have been captured in the lower Clark Fork River in Idaho in the vicinity of Cabinet Gorge Dam and subsequently transported into Cabinet Gorge Reservoir in Montana.
For questions about this ongoing project, please contact Travis Rehm at (406) 382-3032.