September 11, 2006
Contact: Bruce Rehwinkel, (406) 266-4350 or Ron Spoon, (406) 266-4237
Rainbows Recover in Jefferson River
Despite Ongoing Drought Conditions, Collaborative Efforts Revive Rainbow Trout Populations
BOZEMAN - New data analyzed by Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) shows a significant positive trend in the growth and development of rainbow trout in the Waterloo section of the Jefferson River.
“It’s a big deal to hear good news coming out of the Jeff these days,” said Bruce Rehwinkel, Project Manager for Trout Unlimited’s Jefferson River Home Rivers Initiative. “This river has seen more than its share of hard times over the past several years, and we’re thrilled to see the fish coming back.”
Due to drought conditions that began in 2000, rainbow populations dropped severely through 2003. Since that time, Trout Unlimited and FWP have been working with local landowners to restore several Jefferson River tributaries to improve spawning success. Project partners implemented specific restoration efforts on Parsons Slough in 2003 and Willow Springs in 2004-5.
Due to these efforts, rainbow trout populations are now increasing in the Waterloo section, in spite of seven consecutive years of drought conditions. The new FWP data documents a steady increase in two-year old rainbow trout from 2004-2006.
This positive trend indicates increased recruitment in this section of the river. A greater percentage of young fish are surviving the lean years and maturing to reach spawning age.
“This apparent improvement would not have resulted without the continued participation of valley irrigators in the voluntary drought management plan,” emphasized Rehwinkel. “Irrigators have consistently made generous donations of their appropriated water for the benefit of the river.”
“More telling than our spring population surveys is the fact that this reach of the Jefferson River has become the place where local anglers go fishing,” added Ron Spoon, Fisheries Biologist for Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks.