Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks releases it’s annual report on trout populations, native fish protection and temperature patterns on the Madison River. FWP electro-shocks sections of all of our rivers biannually to keep an accurate record of fish populations, species dissemination and over all fishery health.
Pat Clancy region 3 fisheries bioligist says “We have to do reporting for the power company.” referring to Northwest Energy which controls both Hebgen and Ennis dam. Clancy found that numbers of large fish is down some in 2015, but are still at historic levels. Clancy stated that “2010 and 2011 were both good water years, so lot’s of juvenile fish survived.” “There was more water in the river so they had more space. We had really high numbers of large fish in 2013, partially due to the previous good water years, but they have started to age out of the population.” FWP electro-shocked the Norris section last March and the Pine Butte and Varney sections in September. The Pine Butte section of the river still boasts populations of rainbow trout 14″ or more in the 500 fish per mile , which is still quite good. Brown trout numbers in all three sections have remained consistent, between 500 and 1,500 per mile but dropped most significantly in the Varney section.
Clancey said overall water temperature trends have not changed much in the last 20 years, but next year will be the one to watch with snowpack levels at or above normal and repairs to the Hebgen Dam release valve in the final stages. Clancey finished with “It will be interesting to see if the fish populations and size change once the dam returns to normal operating conditions.”
Information adopted from Abigail Dennis at The Madisonian posted January 6th 2016.