By Montana Grant

Posted: June 9, 2022

Montana has become the new home of many transplants, migrants, out of staters, and relocated. Big Sky Country offers Big changes.

Many come here to escape other places. Some are just looking for a new, different, or better quality of life. Others that come here are not needed, wanted, or welcome.

We are now fighting a war against the Fish Invaders! Montana is not a natural home to every fish that swims. Mother Nature has created ecosystems that are naturally balanced. Predators, prey, and other limiting factors keep populations of fish healthy and balanced. Sadly, people want to bring fish to our waters that were common to where they came from or want to be able to catch closer to their new home. These Bucket Biologists think they know best.

Here are some Fish Invaders that people have introduced to our waters. Yellowstone Park is a popular recent example. Someone thought this natural lake would be a nice place to catch Lake Trout. They bucketed some lake trout and later the Cisco minnows to catch them into this wild, native Cutthroat Trout fishery. Nothing ate the Lakers and soon they ate all the Cutties. After 2 decades of gill netting, catching, poisoning, and aggressive management, a balance may be near. The damage is done and may never be fixed thanks to an idiot with a bucket.

Bucket Biology has became easier when boats with live wells became popular. Transporting fish long distances was now easier and less obvious. These same boats often bring mussels, snails, plants, and other unwanted invaders to our waters. Officials try to inspect and regulate these invaders, but it takes just one to ruin a fishery.

Canyon Ferry Lake near Helena was managed for trout and perch. Someone thought nonnative Pike and Walleye would be nice to catch. Soon these fish began to show up. The ecosystem was now out of balance. Long lived pike and walleye prey on everything else that swims. 

Walleye in Montana are not a native fish. There is some debate that a few lakes in the northwest part of the state had walleyes, but most walleyes were introduced from Canada. Some on purpose and some thanks to Bucket Biology idiots. Warm water fishermen generally to not care for trout so what is the big deal. Let’s add some pike, and whatever else floats their boats.

The Yellowstone River flows from Yellowstone Park to the Mississippi River. The cold water is not fish friendly to some species but over time, they can adapt. Goldeneyes, carp, and now smallmouth bass are making their way upstream. Recently, smallmouth bass have been caught in the Shields River and near Gardiner. This is well above their native habitat. The fragile ecosystems in these waters are not prepared to survive this hungry predator.

Eventually, could we see other invaders such as Bighead Silver Carp and Snakeheads swimming in Montana waters? Hopefully not. Montana’s cold winters certainly encourage many transplants to leave or stay away.

Resident anglers, Sportsmen and women, and outdoorsmen need to protect our native waters filled with wild and appropriate fish. Moving fish, stocking, and fiddling with ecosystems is best left to the professionals. Fishery biologists, Foresters, game managers, and other trained experts need to do the same. Montana is what it is. Moving here and bringing fish from where you came from is not helpful or legal.

Celebrate Montana and find a way to become a Montanan, not a transplant.

Montana Grant