Wednesday April 27, 2022

Daily Montanan

The Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission approved changes to smallmouth bass regulations at its April 19 meeting to require anglers to kill and report any smallmouth bass caught in the Yellowstone River from the boundary with Yellowstone National Park to Springdale Bridge Fishing Access Site.

The regulation change also applies to the entire Shields River. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks staff proposed the change after an angler reported catching a smallmouth bass on Feb. 19 while fishing on the Gardner River at its confluence with the Yellowstone River, just outside of Yellowstone National Park, according to a press release from the department.

“One of FWP’s primary management goals in this area is to protect native Yellowstone cutthroat trout, which spawn in the tributaries and upper reaches of the Yellowstone River. An established population of invasive smallmouth bass could occupy the same areas, preying on and displacing native trout and other fish,” the department said in the release.

The release said smallmouth bass have slowly been expanding up the Yellowstone River, but the fish caught on the Gardner River marks the farthest upstream extent of smallmouth bass. The nearest documented catch of smallmouth bass outside of the Feb. 19 catch was nearly 34 miles downstream near Emigrant. It is unknown if this fish swam upriver or was illegally introduced into the river.

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