Monday, December 13, 2010

Taggers in the Big Hole

This past 12 months Montana FWP partnered with the Big Hole Watershed Committee and the Big Hole River Foundation and tagged approximately 2500 trout in the Big Hole River.  When you caught a tagged fish you were encouraged to write down the number from the tag place it in a drop box located at all of the various takeouts and public access points.  FWP would then take the data for their use and send you information about the trout you caught.

I had forgotten about the program until I got my mail on Saturday and there was an envelope from FWP with information from one of the tagged trout I reported.  This trout was a brown caught on August 31st in the Melrose area and was originally tagged March 30, 2010.  At the time I caught it we taped it at 15".  The FWP data from March had the trout recorded at 14.4" and weighing .93 lbs.
Nice surprise in the mail.  Also, one of the better misspellings of my last name.

Wanting more info about this trout and the program I called the local fisheries bio who was nice enough to answer some questions for me.  The bio said that fish in the Big Hole were tagged in the fall of 2009, spring of 2010 and fall of 2010.  He said that the growth of .6" was typical for trout through out the system and that the growth rate was higher in the lower Big Hole than the upper.  The bio also said that the higher growth rate in the lower Big Hole is due to several different factors including water temps, food sources (mmm, crayfish) and fish population densities.

Dave showing what a 15" Big Hole brown in the Melrose stretch looks like.
It's pretty cool to see a state agency working with local conservation groups to help manage a resource and using the public to gather information.  The letter that I received said that data from the project will be available in late spring, and I think it should be pretty interesting.

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