Save Wild Trout Announces Advisory Board
By Moosetrack Megan

Posted: November 7, 2023

Save Wild Trout Announces Advisory Board

Board of Fly Fishing and Wild Trout Advocates to Assist Group’s Work Protecting Southwest Montana’s World-Class Coldwater Fisheries

Wise River, MT – Today, Save Wild Trout, a wild trout advocacy group, announced an advisory board to assist in the organization’s efforts to address the historically low wild trout populations in Southwest Montana rivers and develop science-based solutions to preserve wild trout for the benefit of all. In addition to historically low wild trout numbers in the Jeffersons Basin, unprecedented hoot-owl warm water temperature fishing closures were considered for the first time in history in the Flathead Basin this year and other coldwater fisheries are also under threat. The wild trout downward trendline in Southwest Montana is a worrying harbinger of what is to come for everyone in the fly fishing community if immediate action isn’t taken, especially considering forecasters are predicting a warmer winter with below-average moisture El Niño cycle this year.

Save Wild Trout is conducting an interdisciplinary study into the collapse of wild trout in the Big Hole, Beaverhead, and Ruby rivers that will help federal, state, and local governments and the private sector respond with science-based solutions. Some of the initial work on the study by the group has already begun. Fish, Wildlife, and Parks is partnering with Montana State University to study angler pressure over the next five years. SWT will conduct an interdisciplinary science-based study examining chronic nutrient pollution mixed with persistent low-flows and warmer water temperatures, which have already been identified as causal factors, to help find solutions.

“We are excited to build out our team of advisory board members and continue to grow Save Wild Trout in order to protect this world-class fly fishing mecca now and for generations to come,” said Wade Fellin, co-owner of the Big Hole Lodge and Save Wild Trout organizer. “Make no mistake, while Southwest Montana is still home to some of the best fly fishing in the world, six years of data showing declining wild trout populations culminating in historically low numbers this year is a trend that must be addressed to keep this fishery viable for years to come. By casting a big net and working together, we can make a difference.”

“I’m honored to be joining on as an advisory board member for Save Wild Trout. We know persistent warmer temperatures and low-flows are driving forces behind the declining wild trout population trend,” said Paul Moseley, a part owner of the Complete Fly Fisher, located in the Big Hole Valley. “That is why it is critical to support this group’s efforts to conduct a science-based interdisciplinary study to understand how warmer and less water mixed with chronic nutrient pollution are impacting wild trout and propose solutions to address it.”

“How we pay attention to water issues all across the region and work together in our response will be essential to preserving Monana’s world-class coldwater fisheries and the businesses that rely on them,” said Hilary Hutcheson, a fly fishing guide based in Flathead County, Montana.

Save Wild Trout Advisory Board Members:

Paul Moseley is an avid fly fisherman and has fished, guided and lived in Southwest Montana since 1995. He is the owner of Ruby Springs Lodge and part of the Complete Fly Fisher ownership group, which offers anglers from around the world a magnificent fly fishing experience in one of the greatest trout fishing locations in the world –– Southwest Montana.

Brian Wheeler is the executive director of the Big Hole River Foundation. He has worked as a fishing & whitewater guide for nearly 20 years and organized river cleanups as a volunteer. Brian has a deep appreciation for freestone rivers and the mission of the Foundation. He recognizes that the Big Hole River is the economic driver for ranching and recreation and that water quality is a fundamental concern. If he’s not rowing the river, he’ll be following his bird dogs across the prairie.

Hilary Hutcheson started her fly fishing career as a teenage guide in West Glacier. She guided through college and then co-owned and operated Outside Media and Trout TV for nearly a decade. Today, Hilary’s still guiding on the Flathead River and the Middle Fork of the Salmon River and owns and runs a fly shop called Lary’s Fly & Supply in her hometown of Columbia Falls. She volunteers as a fly fishing instructor for Casting for Recovery, is a Patagonia Fly Fishing Ambasador, serves as a national board member of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, works as a climate activist with Protect Our Winters, and writes for a number of outdoor industry publications.

Dan Vermillion was raised on the banks of Yellowstone River in Montana. After spending years guiding some of the world’s most exotic and famed fisheries, Dan formed Sweetwater Travel with his brothers. Sweetwater Travel is based in Livingston, Montana and owns and operates several fishing camps. Dan served on Montana’s Fish and Wildlife Commission from 2007 to 2019 and served as Chairman from 2013 to 2019. Dan has in-depth knowledge of Montana’s Fish, Wildlife, and Parks and its resources. He’s spent a big part of his career fighting for Montana’s fish, wildlife, and public lands.

Scott Bosse is the Northern Rockies Regional Director for American Rivers and lives with his family in Bozeman. After completing his masters in Environmental Studies with an emphasis on Fish and Wildlife Biology from University of Montana, Bosse has spent over twenty-five years working in natural resource and non-profit management in the Northern Rockies and Pacific Northwest. Scott spearheaded the successful campaign to permanently protect 415 miles of the Snake River and its tributaries around Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

David Thompson is founder and creative director at Brickhouse Creative, a strategic design and marketing agency based in Bozeman, Montana. Brickhouse builds brands for a broad range of clients, including numerous community and conservation-focused nonprofits. A lifelong fly fisher originally from back East, he moved to Montana in 1993, and has been involved in all manner of outdoor pursuits since — while also writing and photographing along the way. Thompson is president of the Montana Trout Foundation, a nonpartisan nonprofit whose sole purpose is to preserve and enhance the state’s wild trout resources.

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