Another nice Sunday spread by the Missoulian. This one, by Rob Chaney, concerns the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act . . .
Alec Underwood accidentally hooked one of the biggest justifications for passing the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act as he floated by Belmont Creek last week. A 21-inch bull trout snatched the artificial hopper he’d tied to his tippet in hopes of hitting a cutthroat. The Montana Wilderness Association conservation associate got the raft to shore, jumped in the water and quickly unhooked the fish. It torpedoed back into the cooler depths of the channel.
Without those cold waters, and without those tributary streams, the Blackfoot River would hold no bull trout. As is, the fish known as the grizzly bear of the trout world faces the same challenge as its land-based predatory kin — near extinction due to loss of living space. Anglers must release any bulls they catch, unharmed.
In hopes that one day bull trout might be legal game fish in the Blackfoot again, Underwood and a flotilla of fellow advocates want to build support for the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act. The bill offered by Sen. Jon Tester, D-Montana, would add about 80,000 acres to the Bob Marshall, Mission Mountain and Scapegoat wilderness areas.