August 27, 2016
August 27, 2016:
On August 19, 2016 Montana’s “Fish Wildlife & Parks” agency instituted an immediate closure of the Yellowstone River drainage (from the boundary of Yellowstone National Park down to Laurel, MT) to fishing, wading, tubing, boating and all other recreational activity due to a massive fish kill. Over 4,000 Mountain Whitefish have been killed and the calamity is beginning to extend to Rainbow and Cutthroat trout. The culprit is Proliferative Kidney Disease caused by a microscopic parasite called Tetarcalsula bryosalmonae combined with stress factors including near record low flows, consistent high temperatures and disturbance caused by recreational activities. The disease is known to have occurred in Canada, the United States and Europe. In Montana the disease has been documented previously in two isolated locations in Central Montana over the past 20 years. Recent outbreaks have occurred in Oregon and Idaho, including the South Fork of the Snake River. Research has shown that in trout this disease has the potential to cause a 20 to 100 percent mortality rate. The stretch of the Yellowstone River from Loch Leven Fishing Access Site (north of Emigrant) to Springdale (east of Livingston) appears to be the hardest hit to date. Thus far, fish inside Yellowstone National Park have not been documented to be affected. There is no known antidote or vaccine to cure or prevent the disease.
The closure was put in place to help limit the chance that the parasite would spread to adjacent rivers and to minimize further mortality in other fish species. Removing human activity in the impacted area also allows fish to take refuge in pools without additional stressors, giving them the best chance of survival. FWP has set up several decontamination stations to protect other rivers, where crews will assist anglers in cleaning their equipment to help strop the potential spread of the parasite.
Given that Members of the Double R fishing Club have invested over 1.5 million dollars in stream restoration projects and given that Silver Creek is a favored destination of traveling anglers, the Picabo Livestock Company and the Double R Ranch have taken action to help limit the spread of this parasite and to protect Silver Creek’s trout.
Members, Guests and Guides who have used their float tubes, waders, boots, fins, etc., on ANY other waters must wash their equipment at a recently acquired cleaning station before fishing the Double R. Currently, the cleaning solution is biodegradable soap but we are in contact with Idaho Fish & Game to determine whether there is a more effective cleaning solution. We have also posted a sign at Kilpatrick Bridge asking anglers to clean their equipment at The Nature Conservancy’s cleaning station, which we restocked with cleaning solution, before entering Double R waters. While no unusually high water temperatures or unusually low stream flows have yet been reported or documented on Silver Creek this season – two factors giving rise to the Yellowstone fish kill – we are taking these measures in an abundance of caution. Please personally comply with these measures and beseech other angers to do the same.
Doug Andres, Stream Keeper, Double R Ranch