Soda Butte Creek Trout Eradication

Via the excellent Hatch Magazine is an article by Ben Kryzinski about proposed fish eradication in Soda Butte Creek. Fisheries managers from several agencies hope to get rid of non-native Brook Trout that they claim threaten native Cutthroat. Well known to many fly fishing folk, Soda Butte is in the Lamar drainage, along with the all too famous Slough Creek.

(no photo credit given but we assume Ben Kryzinski of the beautiful image above)

Response seems divided. It usually is when anglers have to choose between their personal right to fish and environmental perfection. Here’s a link to an ongoing thread discussing Soda Butte Creek.

With dwindling populations of pure-strain Cutthroat in Montana – and elsewhere – the issue of eradication/restoration vs. “it ain’t broke don’t fix it” seems to become more polarizing among the angling community every season. It’s great when you read about some high-country restoration project in another drainage or state, but don’t attempt it on my weekend playground.

Missouri River anglers may not comprehend the idea of restoration, as we live and fish on the ultimate melting pot. Non-native Browns, Rainbows, Walleye and – coming soon – Pike, attract plenty of anglers and no complaints. I’m sure the next generation will fish for Smallmouth below Holter as well.

While native species are long gone in Craig, everyone seems to be having a great time catching loads of non-native (but naturally reproducing) fish. We know that many of our friends and customers regularly make the drive/hike to the Lamar/Slough Creek/Soda Butte area to enjoy the incredible scenery, wildlife and minimalistic fishing.

What are your thoughts on the Soda Butte proposal, and restoration in general?

Lamar River Drainage

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  • Johnny Reachcast
    June 11, 2015 7:02 am

    Interesting. In my experience; the brook trout only tend to live upstream of the park boundary which is much smaller water and much less heavily fished than the meadows inside YNP (which are almost all cuts). For some reason the brookies don’t seem to move down stream. I would have thought the more important problem would be the hybridization of the cutthroats with rainbow trout; which is happening throughout the Lamar, Soda Butte, and Slough Creek drainages.

  • Headhunters:
    I think that we now actually pay attention to, consider and on occasion actually resort habitat is very good no matter what side of the debate( brook vs cutt) we are on; as I am old enough to remember when we simply destroyed habitat and thoughts of restoration and policies to do so were almost non-existent. We are now paying attention to our surroundings and doing corrective things, and I like the spirit of that.
    robert garnier

  • “While native species are long gone in Craig…”

    What about Whitey and Mr. Whisker? Two of my favorite unloved fishes.

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