Voices from the River: The Race up Rock Creek

A cutthroat on Rock Creek

Some places race horses. Some greyhounds. In Montana, we’re betting on a group of tagged cutthroat trout as they race their way up the Clark Fork River.

The project is a joint venture between Trout Unlimited and Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks to learn more about how trout use the habitat in Rock Creek. Trout are tagged and then adopted through a donation, which is used to fund future work.

The leaderboard: https://montanatu.org/race-up-rock-creek/

The public can then follow the trout – Sweetie, Huckleberry, Cindy, Ol Greg, Silver, Roxy, Free Willy, Silly Goofers 2 and all the rest – as they are tracked through the system.

“The Race Up Rock Creek is really a spin-off the joint research to track cutthroat trout, so you can actually follow all the movement of these tagged cutthroat live — as FWP is actually tracking them,” explained Tess Scanlon Rock Creek Project Coordinator for TU.

Researchers tagging cutthroat

Last year, researchers learned Rock Creek is home to a number of pure cutthroat. This year they’re focusing on a few new questions like:

  • In which tributaries is hybridization occurring? 
  • Which tributaries are the pure cutthroat fish using?
  • What are the barriers to upstream fish migrations?
  • What is the habitat like where they spawn? 
  • What causes mortality?

Those who want to donate or follow the race can watch the progress at https://montanatu.org/race-up-rock-creek/.