It was the year of the mussel

Print Article

Reviewing the highlights of the year is the customary topic for columnists between Christmas and New Years.

More than once I’ve related some of my best catches of the year, including fishing destinations that provide lifetime memories.

The biggest fishing news of 2016, however, isn’t about landing 26-inch rainbows on the ‘rez or pitching Crazy Charlies to wary bonefish.

Matter of fact, the biggest fishing news of 2016 isn’t a highlight at all, but rather one of the most significant threats — perhaps the most significant threat ever — to our treasured, world-class Montana fishery.

In early October, annual sampling detected the presence of invasive mussel larvae at the South Bootlegger Fishing Access site on Tiber Reservoir.

Later that month, larvae were found at Yacht Basin and Silos FAS on Canyon Ferry Reservoir.

Suspect samples have also been detected on the Milk River below Nelson Reservoir and the Missouri River south of Townsend.

As of Dec. 15, divers, snorkelers, and specially trained mussel-sniffing dogs had not found any adults.

But let’s get real!

In late November, after some initial wheel-spinning, Gov. Bullock formed the Montana Mussel Response Incident Team, comprised of the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Department of Natural Resources and Conservation and the Governor’s Council on Invasive Species.

Task Forces include: Inspection stations and decontamination, closures and restrictions, control, monitoring and sampling, and economic impacts.

So what’s next?

Will any waters be closed next summer? Will I have to buy a sticker for all my boats? Is Flathead Lake doomed?

Dunno!

This problem is new to all of us, including professional biologists and politicians.

The best thing we Montanans can do, at this time, is to stay informed.

Go to www.musselresponse.mt.gov/FAQ for background information and weekly briefings.

Have a fun and safe Happy New Year!

Jerry Smalley’s Fishful Thinking column appears weekly in the Hungry Horse News.

Print Article

Read More Outdoors

Elk poaching case cracked by FWP near Lewistown

November 16, 2017 at 11:23 am | Hungry Horse News Twin brothers have been charged with 16 crimes, including eight felonies, stemming from what Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials describe as years of poaching activity on a Fergus County ranch...

Comments

Read More

Lake whitefish on the move

November 08, 2017 at 12:26 pm | Hungry Horse News Second week in November and the lake whitefish are in the Flathead River. But where are the fishermen? No doubt those winter storms last week cooled the enthusiasm of many anglers, including mine. ...

Comments

Read More

Local firm to guide ski trips near Essex

November 08, 2017 at 12:15 pm | Hungry Horse News A Columbia Falls-based guide company has been issued a temporary special-use permit to lead backcountry ski trips near the Izaak Walton Inn in the Flathead National Forest. The permit awarded to Gla...

Comments

Read More

For big fish, drag a streamer this fall

November 01, 2017 at 7:27 am | Hungry Horse News Fly fishermen, don’t put away those fly rods yet. The hatches may have slowed down a bunch but dragging streamers in fall can serve up some of best “big fish” fishing of the year. Common explanati...

Comments

Read More

Contact Us

(406) 892-2151
PO BOX 189, 926 Nucleus Avenue
Columbia Falls, MT 59912

©2017 Hungry Horse News Terms of Use Privacy Policy
X
X