Bull trout numbers are down due to competition from non-native lake trout in Flathead Lake. There’s some head-butting over the best fix for the problem . . .
Two biologists from two different government agencies agree on one thing — bull trout numbers in the Flathead appear to be stable. But they differ on the future of the native fish.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks biologist Tom Weaver says bull trout redd counts show a stable population over the past 10 years, and some spawning streams in the North Fork, particularly Coal Creek, saw a surge in numbers this year.
Biologists count spawning beds, called redds, each fall to gauge how many adults are returning to streams each year and the overall health of the bull trout population. The higher the count, the more robust the population. This year, biologists counted 225 redds in the North Fork and Middle Fork tributaries, compared to 229 last year and 189 one year earlier. But those numbers pale in comparison to the early 1980s when numbers ranged from 300 to as many as 600 in 1982.