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Volume 2, Issue 2 Spring 2013 aáy (pronounced “ahh-ee”) is the Salish word for bull trout. Our mission: To conserve, protect and restore valuable wild fish and their habitat in Northwest Montana

One of the things Montana is most noted for is our abundance of cold, clean, fishable water. Our clear waters are known worldwide as are our superb populations of wild, coldwater fish and excellent fishing opportunities. Recently, American Rivers released its annual list of America’s most endangered rivers. And it included a Montana river. “One of our country’s wildest rivers, the Kootenai River provides critical habitat for several rare and threatened native fish species, as well as wildlife like grizzly bear and woodland caribou. However, the river is threatened by runoff and waste from current mining and proposed expansions of five open-pit coal mines along the Elk River in British Columbia, a tributary to the Kootenai.” Selenium, a byproduct of the coal mining activity is a naturally-occurring element that can become very toxic at low levels in the aquatic environment. Recent studies have found very high levels of Selenium in the Elk River endangering a world-famous cutthroat and bull trout fishery. Of course rivers don’t respect artificial boundary lines and the Canadian pollution stream is providing a threat to the Kootanai River which flows south into the U.S. before re-entering Canada and flowing into the Columbia River System. Teck Coal operates five open-pit coal mines in the Elk River Valley with proposals for new mines and expansions at existing operations. The U.S. must work with British Columbia and the International Joint Commission to halt further expansion of mining operations until further studies and a viable action plan have been crafted.

• • • • •

Officers President………..Chris Schustrom Vice President…... Larry Timchak Treasurer…………. Glen Anacker Banquet Chair………... Dan Short Conservation Chair… Lucky Sultz

aáy is a quarterly publication of the Flathead Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited. Contact: 406-260-1198, flatheadtu@gmail.com, www.flatheadtu.org

Kootenai River “There is certainly something in fishing that tends to produce a gentleness of spirit, a pure serenity of mind.” ~Washington Irving~ 1


Volume 2, Issue 2

Spring 2013 Do you remember fishing for bull trout as a kid in the Flathead? If you did, looking back to what we had and could have again, you probably remember taking just a fishing rod, a plug, spinner, or beautifully tied fly, and going fishing with your friends and family on the Flathead River, or on one of our area lakes that held good numbers of bull trout and westslope cutthroat.

From Our President

Chris Schustrom—FVTU President Donate to Flathead Valley Trout Unlimited today! Please go to our website at www.flatheadtu.org and click on the “Donate” button to support our efforts.. Thanks.

Newsletter content does not necessarily reflect the views of Flathead Valley Trout Unlimited, it’s membership or Montana Trout Unlimited. FVTU welcomes submission of photos or content from our valued members. The newsletter is published quarterly throughout the year. Publication dates will be Oct. 1, Jan. 1, Apr. 1, and July 1.Please send contributions at least ten days prior to publication to the newsletter editor at:

For a large part of my first 18 sumChris fishing for bull mers, my family ran the tour boat trout from the dock at concession on Lake McDonald in Lake McDonald. Glacier National Park. Each time throughout the day that the tour boat departed on a 45 minute tour, I took my trusty fishing rod and would fish from the end of the dock for whatever I could catch. Yep, that's me in the photo fishing in the 70s. What I vividly remember catching were cruising bull trout. I remember the beautiful pinkish spots on their sides as I removed the hook and released the fish, before consciously knowing the value to fish populations of practicing catch & release. Since the water was so clear I could see the 20 or so feet to the bottom, and I could see the fish take the offering and set the hook. My dad taught me how to release the fish and about the importance of clean, clear, cold water, and how lucky we are to be in a place as beautiful as Glacier and to be surrounded by such easily accessible fishing opportunities, rivers, lakes and streams, and natural beauty. This is how I got my start fishing, easily accessible kid-friendly fishery at the end of a dock with my fishing rod, and a life jacket, but that's another story, and native bull trout. This Spring an opportunity to support a plan to really restore native bull trout in the Flathead Basin will be at our fingertips. This opportunity is the Flathead Lake EIS with proposals to reduce non-native lake trout to benefit native bull trout. I hope that you will take this opportunity and a few minutes to comment in support of this plan, for the benefit of your kids, or grandkids, or nieces and nephews and for yourselves to restore family-friendly fishing opportunities on our rivers and lakes.

lucky@flatheadtu.org aáy is available online at the FVTU website. www.flatheadtu.org Newsletter editor: Lucky Sultz

Spring is a time of renewal and a time to invest in the future of our coldwater fish and fisheries in the Flathead. This Spring also signals the transition to a new, and greatly qualified Chapter President, Larry Timchak. Larry has years of experience as a Forest Supervisor and is a keen advocate for our native fish and fisheries in the Flathead and beyond. Continued on page 4 2


Volume 2, Issue 2

Spring 2013 Coming Soon! It’s nearly time once again for FVTUs Annual Fund-Raising Banquet and Auction. This will be the not-to-bemissed social event of the season. This year’s grand prize raffle will feature a 14-foot full-wrap, self-bailing NRS raft package complete with a great rowing frame and oars. Everything but the fish! Please join FVTU and all our valuable friends and supporters on May 18, 2013 at Grouse Mountain Lodge in Whitefish. Festivities begin at 6:30 with a great catered supper at 7 pm. We hope to see you all there

Back in the day Get raft raffle tickets or banquet tickets by calling 406-260-1198 or 406-755-6838. Tickets are $3 each, 2 for $5, 5 for $10 or 12 for $20. Banquet is $40 per person.

Flathead Valley Trout Unlimited holds monthly meetings on the third Tuesday of each month October through April. Meetings are held at the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks conference room at 490 N. Meridian in Kalispell at 7pm. Please join us for our regular meetings in the Fall.

FVTU Calendar •

May 18: Annual FVTU Fundraiser Banquet

May-June: Be prepared to submit comments for the CSKT Draft EIS for Flathead Lake lake trout suppression. Watch for updates at www.flatheadtu.org

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Volume 2, Issue 2

Spring 2013 The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes have released a set of videos aimed at improving angling success for lake trout from Flathead Lake. The videos are available in a DVD set, or you can watch them online.

Catching Lake Trout in Flathead Lake The two-disc DVD set “Catching Lake Trout in Flathead Lake”, a Flathead Lake bathymetric map and a fact sheet for fish identification are available from the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes for free at the CSKT Natural Resources Department, 406 Sixth Ave. E in Polson, or by calling Cindy Benson at 883-2888, ext. 7294. The instructional videos can also be viewed online at www.mackdays.com. And, speaking of lake trout, there’s good news this month from the lake trout suppression effort on Swan Lake. For the first time since netting began in 2009, biologists are seeing an uptick in redd numbers for both bull trout and kokanee salmon in the Swan watershed. This is a hopeful sign, but of course a single year on increasing redds will need to be verified for several more years. The uptick may also have resulted from a new regulation change that provides for catch -and-release fishing only for bull trout in Swan Lake. A total of 10,414 juvenile lake trout from 6” to 32” were removed from Swan Lake in 2012 along with the removal of 215 larger spawning fish. The size of lake trout caught this year continues the trend toward smaller fish being netted, which is good news. Researchers on Swan Lake are hopeful that this years increase in redd numbers for both kokanee and bull trout is a sign that the past four years of suppression effort is beginning to pay off and affect predation rates by lake trout. The next few years will determine whether or not the netting effort has been able to significantly reduce the lake trout population. From our President—continued from page 2 Thanks to Luck Sultz for putting together the newsletter, and for his tireless efforts as Chapter Conservation Chair. Thanks to our chapter board; Dan Short, Glen Anacker, Dan Olson, Jim Johnson, Gregg Letourneau, George Widener, Lucky, and Larry Timchak for their years of volunteer service to coldwater conservation. We look forward to seeing you at our annual Fundraising Banquet Saturday May 18th at Grouse Mountain Lodge in Whitefish! Chris Schustrom, Chapter President

Springtime at Pine Grove Pond As one of the many volunteer efforts by Flathead Valley Trout Unlimited, we annually volunteer to help out with the opening day, Kids Fishing Day at Pine Grove Family Fishing Pond near Kalispell. Spring in Montana can be nothing if not unpredictable. The weather went from perfect, calm, springtime skies and lots of fish being caught, to blizzard conditions in the space of ten minutes. MFWP made the decision and rightfully so, to cancel the fishing contest an hour early. Even so, I think most of the kids caught fish and had a good time. Parents, maybe not so much.

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Volume 2, Issue 2

Spring 2013 A century ago, tens of thousands of bull trout roamed the waters of Flathead Lake and the Flathead River system. By the mid-1980s a spawning run of 10,000-15,000 fish still provided exciting fishing opportunities. Today there are less than 3,000 adult fish left in Flathead Lake and the North and Middle forks. Due to our misguided actions and inattention, these magnificent fish are on the brink of extinction in our home waters. FVTU is proud to announce the release of our exciting video, Jewel in The Crown. This DVD examines the plight of native fish in the Flathead with a focus on current problems facing bull trout.

Through conversations with the last generation of anglers who were able to legally fish for bull trout in our home waters and many historical photos as well as interviews with local fisheries biologists and managers, we examine the current situation and where we need to go now to preserve our native fish heritage in the Flathead Basin. Get your copy today: Jewel in The Crown is available for only $12 (+ $2 shipping and handling) and can be obtained on the FVTU website www.flatheadtu.org, at several participating local fly shops, or at our monthly

the sole means of reducing the lake trout population has largely failed. Since the expiration of the plan, the Tribes have worked through an extensive Environmental Impact Statement in cooperation with all the local, state and federal agencies and local stakeholders.

All of the alternatives include the continued use of fishing contests, gillnetting and removal of the controversial slot limit on lake trout. According to the DEIS, “The need for the project is based on over two decades of continuous and cooperative regional research, management, and planning by Tribal, State, and Federal agencies.”

final draft of the “Proposed Flathead Lake DEIS Process The Strategies for Lake Trout Population Reduction to Benefit Native The Tribes have relied on some Moves Forward of the best fisheries scientists in Fish Species” in Flathead Lake

will soon be released for a 45-day the country as well as consultation with USFWS, USFS, USGS, public comment period. NPS, MFWP, NRCS and The Midway through the preparation University of Montana as well as consultation with an ad hoc group of the DEIS, MFWP decided to withdraw from the process, citing of conservation and fishermen’s organizations. opposition to the use of gillnetting to reduce the lake trout population which might harm fishing Population studies in Flathead Lake have shown that native trout and concerns about bycatch of continue to decline and the prinative species. mary cause of that decline has The Draft EIS will propose four been ascribed to an overalternatives to meet the objectives abundance of nonnative lake trout that have expanded throughout of the co-management plan as well as the objectives of the Mon- the watershed. tana Bull Trout Restoration Plan and the Montana MOU and Res- FVTU has continued to follow toration Plan for Cutthroat trout. the DEIS process closely and we continue to support the primary goal of the Co-management plan Along with a no-action alternato “increase and protect native tive, the EIS will propose the seAnalysis of the effects of the Cotrout populations (bull trout and lection of lake trout population management plan following the reduction levels of 25%, 50%, or westslope cutthroat trout).” ten year period found that the reliance on recreational fishing as 75%.

For more than 30 years, the fisheries of the Flathead Lake and river system have been comanaged by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks. In 2010, the last ten-year Flathead Lake CoManagement Plan expired. The plan originated through a cooperative process designed to reduce the number of predatory lake trout in Flathead Lake and to increase numbers of native bull trout and cutthroat that have been in decline since the lake trout population boomed in the early 1990s due to the introduction of Mysis shrimp to the ecosystem.

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Volume 2, Issue 2

Spring 2013

Tying the Purple Haze—From Lakestream Outfitters, Whitefish, Montana What is a Purple Haze? It’s basically a purple Parachute Adams. You can dub the body with purple dub or use floss. Floss is my favorite. It makes a slimmer abdomen and is extremely durable. Purple? Really? How many purple mayflies are there? Not many! Why do trout like purple flies? It’s hard to tell and everyone has a theory. What is my theory? Well…. I have a love hate relationship with the Purple Haze. We sell piles of Purple Haze every year and people have good success with them all year round. So back to why trout like purple? I think it has to do with ultra violet light that the cones in there eyes pick up. Now…. This is controversial. Because the cones that pick up ultra violet light disappear after about 2-3 years. Here is a link to a great article about Trout Vision. Trout in our river system, most other river too, see lots and lots of Purple Haze, Purple Caddis and every imaginable variation of the Purple Craze. So for the most part I stay away from it. But…. Early season is great for the Purple Haze. Shhhhh…. Dont tell anyone! We have lots of smaller stones, Gray Drakes, March Browns and BWO’s. This is my favorite time of the year to fish the Purple Haze. Does it work all the time? Nope. Yesterday we couldn’t buy a fish on the P.H. and were getting attention on the size 12 P.A. The week before it was just opposite? Could be just me? Anyways…. Tie these guys up and make sure you have a few in the box. Tied by: Rob from Lakestream Outfitters

Flathead Lake Mack Days The annual Spring Mack Days fishing contests continue this month on Flathead Lake. The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes sponsor the contests in the Spring and again in the Fall to help reduce the number of predatory lake trout to protect and conserve reduced populations of native bull trout and cutthroat trout in the Flathead Basin. After 7 weekends of the Spring contest, harvest stands at 17,890, down from 21,963 at the same point last year.

Teck Coal must submit selenium plan.

on environmental projects, including water diversion and water treatment.

Following a study by the University of Montana and commissioned by Glacier National Park that found dangerously high levels of selenium in the Elk River in British Columbia and the upper reaches of the Kootenai River, concerns have been expressed by U.S. and Canadian governments about the dangers to popular fish populations on both sides of the border.

(see article on page 1)

The British Columbia government has issued an order to Teck Coal Ltd. requiring the company to submit a So far, there is no evidence that the plan for dealing with the high levels fishing contests have had any effect of selenium and other contaminants on the lake trout population and later in the Elk Valley watershed. this spring, CSKT will release a long -awaited EIS that will propose taking Teck responded that, “We know we additional steps to reduce the lake have an issue and we are working hard to try and help resolve that istrout population. sue,” the company expects to spend $600-million over the next five years

Tribes May Sue After Legislature Kills the CSKT Water Compact After the Montana Legislature failed to ratify a tribal water compact that took state and federal agencies more than ten years to work out, the CSKT has said that they may now be forced to take legal action to protect tribal water rights. Lawsuits could tie up water rights both on, and off, the Flathead Reservation for years, but the tribes feel that legal action may be their only available remedy. “We did what we thought had to be done. We hashed out a compact, despite very difficult problems.” said CSKT Communications Director Robert McDonald 6

FVTU 2013 Spring Newsletter  

Find out what's happening at Flathead Valley Trout Unlimited. This is your opportunity to stay informed and help wild and native fish in Nor...

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