Mandatory catch, kill, report reg approved for bass in upper Yellowstone, Shields rivers

Brett French

A mandatory catch, kill and report regulation was approved by the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission on Tuesday. The rule will apply to any smallmouth bass caught in the Shields River and in the Yellowstone River between Springdale and the Yellowstone National Park border.

The new regulation comes in the wake of Bozeman angler Raef Smalley’s catch of a smallmouth bass on Feb. 19, just downstream from where the Gardner River enters the Yellowstone River. Not knowing the species shouldn’t be there, he filmed and released his catch.

When Yellowstone National Park’s fisheries biologist found out about the catch so close to the park border, he sounded the alarm. The end result is the new regulation. By catching, keeping and turning in any smallmouth bass caught in the upper river, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is hoping to find out where the fish came from. That can be done by analyzing the fish’s otolith, a bone in a fish’s ear that can show how old it is and where it was born.

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