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South Fork Rainbows: Great quarry yet still a nuisance for Fish and Game

South Fork Rainbow
Did you get your share of Rainbow Trout last season on the South Fork?  Speaking for guides and anglers alike at The Lodge at Palisades Creek, I can say emphatically, YES!  But to Fish and Game, it is a different story. Together with Trout Unlimited, Friends of the Teton River and various other organizations, they again are trying to encourage harvesting of these “invasive” trout and have compiled a report on Rainbow populations as they continue to monitor their encroachment on native Cutthroat populations on the South Fork.  Their findings were very positive. At Conant access, statistics show that Rainbow trout per mile declined for the first year to 1,893 per mile while Cutthroat were 1,953 per mile, inversely mirroring 2010.  It is working, however Fish and Game still is trying to stem the tide of the rainbow trout. Wiers are currently in place at critical cutthroat spawning creeks such as Palisades Creek and Pine Creek in order to snatch them from the ecosystem on the South Fork.  Additonally, the Angler Incentive Program is, again, in full swing.  575 Rainbows were caught, tagged and released back into the South Fork for anglers to catch AND KILL, with 5 fish worth $1,000 dollars each for the successful angler;; 50 fish worth $500; 100 fish worth $250 and the remainder of the fish trapped and tagged worth between $50-100 each.  There will be no shortage of these leaping bulldogs on the South Fork this season, but progress is being made to curtail their impact on the native Cutthroat trout.  Sounds like the best of both worlds to me.

Chris Heib