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FWP commits to tackling the trout population crash in southwest Montana

Rainbow trout and brown trout.
Rainbow trout and brown trout.

The director of Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) committed the full resources of the department in response to a historic population crash in some of southwest Montana’s most iconic trout fisheries.

Historically low trout numbers across southwest Montana’s most iconic rivers spurred significant discussion at the monthly meeting of Fish, Wildlife & Parks commissioners Thursday.

Conservation groups and outfitters for years criticized FWP for not investing enough resources to identify the causes of the population crash.

New FWP Director Dustin Temple said the agency is committed to answering that question.

So I just want to assure the commission, assure the public, this is all hands on deck,” Temple said. “All of the resources available to the department are available to the fisheries division as they tell us what they need.” 

Commissioners approved new regulations to limit angling during brown trout spawning season. They also lowered the number of fish anglers can keep in some stretches of the Big Hole, Beaverhead, and Ruby rivers.

Population surveys of brown and rainbow trout this spring found the lowest numbers on record. The population decline was most pronounced in the Big Hole.

John joined the Montana Public Radio team in August 2022. Born and raised in Helena, he graduated from the University of Montana’s School of Media Arts and created the Montana history podcast Land Grab. John can be contacted at
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