How can Fish, Wildlife and Parks help the fisheries of the greater Jefferson River? One way is to help make sure new fish have a chance to grow. MTN’s Chet Layman takes a look at a series of closures on key waterways this fall, a first step in FWP’s efforts to save the fish.
BOZEMAN — Fish in the three tributaries of the Jefferson River are in trouble. FWP has put in place fishing closures on certain sections of the Big Hole, Ruby, and Beaverhead rivers to protect primarily brown trout during the important spawning season.
“So it begins in the fall, goes all the way through the spring when other fish are spawning as well,” said Morgan Jacobsen with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. “Again, to protect that period when fish are spawning, to be able to again, to make sure that these fish have a really good opportunity to spawn and produce the next generation of fish.”
Jacobsen says this is just the first step in a greater effort to learn about the fish of those rivers. Several studies will begin soon, looking at different aspects of the fish habitat of these rivers.
“A study on fish mortality, cause of fish mortality, what that looks like in different areas, fish recruitment and, you know, where fish are coming from essentially. Are most of the fish spawning in tributaries and are those contributing mostly to the main stem populations, where's that occurring, as well as a study to look at fish health and how can we better understand and manage fish health proactively throughout the years,” Jacobsen said.
Jacobsen says it’s important to look at these fall closures as helping the fish for now and the future, not a restriction to keep anglers off the waters.
“Fish populations in these areas are struggling in some ways and this package of regulations which includes the spawning closure but also includes some other regulations with it is kind of that first step, that first tool in the toolbox that Fish, Widlife and Parks has to help those populations out.
Contact FWP for more information about the fall restrictions and fishing in general on these three rivers that combine to form the Jefferson River.