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Rock Creek project connecting people with native fish

Posted at 7:02 AM, May 07, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-07 09:02:05-04

MISSOULA – Montanans can now follow along with fish research in real time thanks to a project connecting people with cutthroat trout.

David and Bella Paoli love following Huckleberry, a native Westslope Cutthroat Trout.

“I would follow it every day. I would report on Huckleberry’s progress up Rock Creek. And occasionally we would get online…and look at the map,” David said.

Huckleberry was adopted by the Paoli’s through Montana Trout Unlimited’s Race Up Rock Creek.

“The Race Up Rock Creek is really a spin-off the joint research to track cutthroat trout, so you can actually follow all the movement of these tagged cutthroat live — as FWP is actually tracking them,” explained Tess Scanlon with Trout Unlimited.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks tracks these fish as part of a research project looking into how cutthroats use rock creek and its tributaries to survive.

“We never really tracked their movements to figure out what kind of habitats they were using for spawning and over summer and other times of the year,” said FWP’s Brad Liermann.

“So, we wanted to put out radio transmitters in fish to get a good feel for what type of habitats they were using at different times of the year,” he added.

Finding these critical habitats and possible obstructions to them will allow fish managers to conserve rock creek’s west slope cutthroats in the future.

“If we can identify obstacles that are either causing mortality or increasing the amount of time it takes to make that migration — and if we can improve through habitat restoration these obstacles than we can have real positive benefits on those fisheries,” Liermann said.

The research — combined with Trout United’s Race Up Rock Creek allows the public to connect, in real time, with cutthroat conservation and dads to connect with their daughters.

“We found out where huckleberry was that day and so we went and visited him,” David said.

“Yeah, just me and my dad,” Bella added.

Click here to follow Montana Trout Unlimited’s Race Up Rock Creek.