Every spring, fluvial cutthroat congregate in healthy tributaries of the Clark Fork River to begin their long journey up the stream to spawn – with some fish known to swim more than 100 miles in several weeks.
The lengthening daylight, rising water levels and warming water temperatures trigger the upstream cutthroat migration for spawning. Before this big spring runoff in Montana, Trout Unlimited staff, state biologists and volunteers went fishing – some with fly rods and others with electrofishing equipment. Technicians inserted radio transmitters into mature westslope cutthroat weighing one-pound or more.
By the end of the day, nearly 30 cutthroat trout were released from three different locations along the creek. By sponsoring one of these fish, you can help TU improve and restore Rock Creek and other coldwater fisheries in the Clark Fork River. Sponsor a fish and then watch for weekly updates to the online map and leaderboard to see which fish moves the fastest and which fish swims the most overall miles throughout the summer.
Montana, Fish, Wildlife, & Parks and TU will be tracking westslope cutthroat trout in Rock Creek, a major tributary to the Clark Fork River and the only designated blue ribbon trout fishery in Montana west of the Continental Divide. Rock Creek is an excellent recreational fishery and a stronghold for native salmonids, supporting significant populations of both resident and migratory native bull and westslope cutthroat trout.
This joint scientific research to tag and track fish will help TU and Montana FWP identify fish passage barriers, degraded habitat and water quality and quantity problems during the fish’s quest to reproduce and movement throughout the summer. Then, TU will get to work – removing barriers, restoring tributaries, reclaiming abandoned mines and working with ranchers and public land managers to improve watershed conditions.