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Sick Trout

You've probably read about the issues facing some trout streams in SW Montana. Declining populations, diseased fish, etc. Some of the pictures of these fish are pretty ugly.

I had my first encounter with one a few days ago while guiding on the Lower Madison. We were below Black's Ford when a belly up fish floated by the boat, twitching every now and again. Still alive. Barely.

We scooped it up and it was obviously sick with some sort of infections. Strange lesions and masses of yuk dotting the skin. Very similar to some of the fish I've seen pictures of on rivers like the Big Hole. Montana FWP is currently looking into it and has a reporting page on their website to upload information and pictures of sick fish. I reported it, and tossed the 15" brown trout on the bank. I have no idea if that was what FWP wants people to do with these fish, but it just felt like that fish didn't need to be in the water spreading whatever disease it had to others.

It left an awful pit in my stomach. I've not seen this on the Upper Madison yet, and hopefully we don't. What's strange is, it's mid May and water temps are pretty cold. So, I can't imagine whatever this fish had is solely related to elevated water temps. Unless the fish obtained the disease late last summer and has been dealing with it since? Hopefully we can get some answers soon and start working on solutions.

In the meantime, if you run across one of these sick and dying fish here's the reporting link:


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