Something is up on the Big Horn River in Montana. After a wet spring and higher than average dam releases, surveyors are having a hard time finding the river’s usually abundant trout.
“BILLINGS, Montana – Trout numbers in the Bighorn River hit record lows this spring, which state biologists say corresponds with high river flows below Yellowtail Dam the previous two spring hatch seasons.
This spring’s survey showed 370 brown trout and 870 rainbow trout, all over eight inches long, per mile of river, the lowest since survey launched in 1992, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks reported Wednesday.
Mike Ruggles, the agency’s regional manager, said brown trout eggs typically hatch in March and April, which is when high spring flows from the Yellowtail Dam likely moved enough riverbed gravel to crush unhatched eggs and kill small fish.
Rainbow trout eggs typically hatch in the early summer and may have also been harmed by heavy water flow, Ruggles said in a news release.”
We know that with proper regulation and protection, we can recover the trout lost to the high water this spring, but it will be a long road. In the meantime, the numbers of trout being found are still plentiful and hungry!
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