How Can I Help?

1. Learn to identify bull trout and other species that occupy their habitat.

Bull trout are protected by both state and federal law; there is no fishing season for them (see 2016 Montana Fishing Regulations – catch and release only for Bull Trout in Swan Lake) and they have been listed since 1998 as threatened by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Intentionally or accidentally “taking” a bull trout is illegal. It also creates an unfavorable public image of anglers and fishing.

The most important thing that you can do to help minimize the impact on the bull trout is to learn to correctly identify them. It is also helpful to identify other fish you catch and the species you see in the waters you are fishing. Correct identification, both in and out of the water, will help you avoid hooking bull trout and releasing them if you do catch them.

See bull trout characteristics and a comparison of fish species.

2. Know where bull trout live

See bull trout characteristics to identify where bull trout may live. If you are fishing in these areas take note of the fish you see in the waters and avoid catching bull trout. If you do catch one release it.

See catch and release techniques to help guide you on the proper way to release a fish.

3. The more you know the more you can help

Fine sediment harms bull trout eggs and fry.

Studies have shown that when the amount of fine sediment (particles less than a quarter of an inch) amount to more than 30 percent sediment in stream areas where bull trout spawn, spawning success is severely impacted. Less than one quarter of the bull trout eggs will hatch and survive to viable fry. This is because sediment clogs pores in the gravel, reducing the flow of oxygen to eggs, preventing the outflow of waste products, and ultimately preventing fry from emerging from the gravel. It is crucial that land managers and agency biologists work together to limit the input of sediments from road building, agriculture, land development, natural processes, and forestry practices in streams where bull trout live.

Dams and culverts impact bull trout migration.

Dams and poorly placed culverts can block migration routes of bull trout. These obstructions remove spawning and nursery areas and “disconnect” part of the system. Connectivity is important for migrating fish such as bull trout. Be aware. If you live in bull trout habitat consider their migratory routes and how dams and poorly placed culverts can affect them. Even a small swimming hole type dam can impact a population and is illegal.

Introduced fish species

Non-native fish species can compete for food and space with native bull trout. Find out how you can help reduce the number of non native species to help grow the bull trout population. Brook Trout can hybridize with Bull Trout.