Brett French reports: Stillwater River trout numbers hold despite last June’s historic flood
By angelamontana

Posted: May 18, 2023

Last June several streams in southern Montana hit historic high flows. One of those was the Stillwater River, just outside of Columbus. When the river peaked, it was 11 feet high, 3.5 feet above flood stage. In nearby Rock Creek, in the town of Red Lodge, the water was running so fast you could hear boulders being tumbled downstream. Despite the rearrangement of the Stillwater River, with old holes filled in and new channels created, the stream’s trout population has remained pretty much the same, according to Fish, Wildlife & Parks fisheries biologist Bryan Giordano. On the upper river, above the town of Absarokee, FWP continues to see a downward decline in the number of brown trout although the average size is larger, around 15 inches. This is being blamed on low water in the fall, when the fish spawn. On the lower river near Absarokee, the population of trout remains about 50-50 rainbows and browns, with the average size of fish smaller. Streams are already trending above last year at this time for water flows with more warm weather predicted. To read more about the Stillwater and the flood’s effects, check out my story at

written by Brett French | Outdoors editor | Billings Gazette Communications

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