Wade Fellin wanted a break from chasing fish as a job, so he spent a day snorkeling in the Bitterroot River.
The hoped-for respite backfired.
“I was excited to show my wife how many fish are down there, but we just got sick to our stomachs,” the owner of the Big Hole Lodge in Wise River said last week. “There were two cutthroats bleeding out — their gills pumping blood. Being in the water watching a fish die is pretty horrific.”
That scene was repeated numerous times as the Fellins found more and more dead or dying fish in one of Montana’s most popular angling destinations. Similar reports have come from the Clark Fork, Big Hole, Beaverhead, Jefferson and many other rivers across western Montana this summer.