Commission votes to implement smallmouth bass rule on Bitterroot River

Jess Abell

The Montana Fish & Wildlife Commission voted unanimously on Thursday to implement a mandatory smallmouth bass catch/kill/report regulation for the entire stretch of the Bitterroot River effective immediately.

On July 5, an angler caught a smallmouth bass in the Bitterroot River, approximately 3.5 miles upstream from its confluence with the Clark Fork. Since then, a second report was confirmed earlier this month in the same area of the river. The fish was turned in to FWP officials and was verified by staff.

FWP staff have conducted sampling in the Bitterroot River since the reports using various techniques, including snorkeling, and have not found any other smallmouth bass in the river.

The initial proposal had only included implementation in the lower portion of the Bitterroot River. But after further questioning officials decided to expand the regulation to include the entire river. 

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“One of the reasons we want to do immediate implementation on this catch, kill and report, is we think anglers could be a very efficient and effective method of getting us information on a very small population,” said FWP Fisheries Administrator Eileen Ryce. “This information

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