The Montana Story - Spey Pages
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-27-2015, 02:48 PM Thread Starter
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The Montana Story

In 1974, Montana did something that stunned anglers across the state and the nation: it stopped stocking trout in streams and rivers that supported wild trout populations. After decades of use and millions of dollars invested, hatchery production was not helping, and in fact was the leading cause of the collapse of the fishery. Ground-breaking research on the Madison River in the late 1960s and early '70s organized by fisheries biologist Richard Vincent led to that decision. His study results showed that as hatchery production increased, trout abundance decreased, and native stocks were displaced.

Nearly forty years after Richard Vincent's study, Montana is one of America's premier trout fishing destinations. Focusing on habitat and discontinuing river hatchery stocking, trout fisheries have recovered and wild populations are self-sustaining.

On the anniversary of this monumental decision, Wild Fish Conservancy presents The Montana Story: Forty Years of Success. This is the first volume in a series of short videos called the Wild Fish Video Journal.
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 04-01-2015, 09:25 PM
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Yes !

It is so good here. Troutspey paradise !

still wading too deep
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 04-01-2015, 10:57 PM
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"Stop planting, preserve habitat, and nature will take care of the rest."

Sounds like the right prescription for all fisheries.
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 04-02-2015, 06:07 AM
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2/3 weight 12.5 spey on the Bitterroot.

Originally Posted by MT Box View Post
It is so good here. Troutspey paradise !
Health didn't allow me to make this falls trip; Hamilton, Montana: Years back, old man (I'm old too) waded into the river: 'What kind of rod is that?' 20 minutes later he was banging out casts; dog(s), first we met, and I just sat on the beach.

He, lost in his own world. Sip on some cold coffee,pass over half my sandwich. Subway- Tuna fish and trimmings, share the bag of chips. 'Old Men' can have a good conversation, not say much. "Good to see you again."

Nod. "How's the wife?"


"Not married any more."


Fred Evans - White City, Oregon
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 04-02-2015, 11:24 AM
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If California doens't have the worst hatchery programs, I don't know who would.

It's crazy. On my home river, the American, we have a Salmon, Steelhead and Trout hatchery. The dam has been in place since '55, 60 years ago. As a condition of it being installed, the hatchery was built as well. Millions and millions and millions of dollars have been spent and many more millions of fish have been raised and released. Tons of gravel has been placed in the upper river sections in recent years because DFG studies showed that a large percentage of fish spawned naturally in the river. Every year during the Fall and Winter, the DFG conduct artificial spawning and raising of the fish returning to the river and then release the fingerlings. When they meet their goal, the spawning is stopped.

Not sure what the goal for steelhead was this year, but they spawned a total of 50 pairs. That's not a typo... 50, 5-0 pairs of steelhead returned the river and made it to the hatchery to be artificially spawned.

If that isn't the definition of failure, I don't know what is. Yet it gets funding every year to continue.
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 04-02-2015, 12:17 PM
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Yes, we're lucky here in MT that we have the benefit of some very progressive fisheries management (I'm so glad none of my license dollars go toward raising those mutated triploid rainbow things)...but what we really benefit from is the best stream access laws in the country...and they are under constant assault.

Montana still raises and releases tons of trout, mostly destined for put and take lake fisheries. FWP has several stream/species restoration projects going, mainly for fluvial grayling, yellowstone cutthroat, and westslope cutthroat, and is using hatchery-raised fish to support them. But again, progressive management. I wish some of our states with anadramous fish runs were so lucky.
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 04-02-2015, 07:52 PM
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Cool God bless Dick Vincent

...And Ray White and all the other professional biologists who dared broach the trout stocking paradigm. I spent years in Colorado trying to reduce stream stocking. Its an empire. The head of the fisheries division was an ex-hatchery manager. Those hatcheries are gems - gems of the agency - concrete examples of man's control and mastery of nature. Because this hatchery empire demonstrates to the ill-informed public that their license dollars are at work (the public seldom notices researchers like Barry Nehring and Dick Vincent, but they see the hatcheries and the stockers dancing on the ends of their poles) hatcheries tend to become the castles fisheries managers fight hardest to protect - not habitat, not water, but hatcheries. In a way, hatcheries have turned fisheries managers into farmers. In Colorado, the crowning achievement of this "hatcheries first" mindset was the introduction and spread of whirling disease which has decimated wild rainbow trout populations in the state. Yes indeed, let's sing the praises of Dick Vincent and others who back in the 70s convinced the Montana Fish and Game Commission to stop stocking catchable trout. We anglers are forever in your debt.
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