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Draft Plan Released for Cutting Lake Trout Numbers
Options include fishing contests, bounties and netting to remove lake trout
MISSOULA – The Bureau of Indian Affairs and Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes have written a draft environmental impact statement dealing with non-native lake trout in Flathead Lake.

The Missoulian reports the plan made public Friday has options ranging from doing nothing to reducing lake trout numbers to a quarter of the 2010 estimated population.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks spokesman Ron Aasheim said the agency hasn't taken a formal position and is studying the possibilities.

The tribes want to reduce lake trout numbers with the objective of eliminating enough of the predatory fish to make the lake more survivable for native bull trout and westslope cutthroat trout.

Some options in the plan include fishing contests, bounties and netting to remove lake trout.

"That potentially impacts the recreational fishery," Aasheim said. "Any time you're netting fish, people are going to have different opinions."

The plan looks at a range of annual harvest of 84,000 lake trout for a 25 percent reduction, to 143,000 fish for a 75 percent reduction. The plan also considers the effects on the local fishing economy, grizzly bears and cultural resources.

The tribal government has sponsored the Mack Days fishing derby for lake trout since 2002, with anglers hauling in 28,088 fish this spring. But that hasn't been enough to dent the lake trout population, officials said.

"So far, the levels of lake trout being harvested are not sufficient to significantly reduce the lake trout population in the lake," CSKT fisheries biologist Barry Hansen wrote in a statement on the Mack Days website.

The deadline for public comment on the plan is Aug. 5.
On 06-24-13, Lucky commented....
You are going to hear a lot of scary things about this restoration plan in coming weeks that aren’t true. The truth is this plan will more than double the number of bull trout in the Flathead, greatly increase the number and size of cutthroats. It will take…
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