Bull trout redd count stable, but still well below historic average

The latest bull trout redd count is in line with recent years, but still well below what it should be . . .

State biologists found 500 bull trout spawning sites in the North and Middle Forks of the Flathead River this fall, indicating about 1,500 trout made the migration from Flathead Lake.

That’s not as good as the early 1980s before bull trout populations in Flathead Lake started to crash, but much better than the 1990s after federal authorities designated the fish a threatened species, according to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks spokesman John Fraley.

“We’ve done this count for 33 years,” Fraley said. “It gives us an idea how the bull trout spawners are doing. We’re about 57 percent of what we were in 1980, but well above the lows of the mid-’90s. That’s encouraging to us.”

However, federal officials monitoring bull trout recovery in Flathead Lake say the annual number doesn’t tell the whole story.

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