FWP looks to improve fishing in reservoir,
| April 5, 2011 8:44 AM
Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks would
like to preserve fishing in the Kootenai River and Lake Koocanusa.
They’d also like to see it improve.
To that end, FWP mangers are asking for
input from the public. Every four years, FWP reviews its fishing
regulations for potential changes.
About 20 people attending a public
meeting last week on the potential changes. Comments on the changes
will be taken through April 22.
“We’re looking at issues and problems,”
said regional fisheries manager Jim Vashro. “We want to see what we
can address with fish regulation changes.”
One of the areas where potential change
could take place are for the Kootenai River and Lake Koocanusa.
Fisheries managers have identified a
number of areas of concern for these areas.
One area of concern is for bull trout
in Lake Koocanusa. There has been a decline in bull trout redd
count in recent years. One issue that seems to be affecting bull
trout is the amount of catch-and-release mortalities.
“We’re handling a lot of bull trout and
that’s an issue,” fisheries biologist Mike Hensler said. “As we
harvest and handle bull trout the numbers are going down.”
The fishery was opened on Koocanusa in
2004 allowing anglers to keep two bull trout per year. Since then,
there’s been a drop in the bull trout redd counts in the Wigwam
River, where bull trout from Koocanusa spawn.
One option could be to prohibit
removing bull trout from the water unless the fish is going to be
Vashro said this option could help
prevent fish from being kept out of the water for extended periods
of time before being released again.
“We see a lot of trophy shots,” he
said. “Even in places its not legal to fish (for bull trout).”
Another area of concern is the
declining number of rainbow trout and trophy rainbow trout in the
Kootenai River downstream of Libby Dam.
“We know times are tough and we’d like
to see (the river) back to what it was,” Vashro said.
FWP monitors rainbow trout in several
sections below the dam.
“There’s a considerable drop in the
rainbow trout,” Hensler. “For 13 inch or greater rainbow the
numbers are down dramatically in all sections we monitor.”
Some at the public meeting suggested
FWP stock the river like it does with lakes.
“We rely on the natural reproduction,”
Vashro said. “If there’s no potential for reproduction we’ll look
for a way to change the habitat or adjust the angling.”
Stocking streams or rivers can often be
difficult, because unlike in lakes, fish don’t stay where they are
placed, he noted.
FWP will continue taking comments
through April 22 on changes to the fishing regulations. Changes are
expected to go into affect March 1, 2012.
To read about statewide issues and
provide comments visit the FWP website at www.fwp.mt.gov and look
under the “For Anglers” heading.