eDNA Trout Tracking Featured at November 17 BRTU Meeting


eDNA Trout Tracking Featured at November 17 BRTU Meeting


Kellie Carim, PhD,  a scientist at National Genomics Center for Wildlife and Fish Conservation  will present the program at our next BRTU meeting, titled “eDNA: tracking trout with DNA and modern molecular biology.” The meeting is Thursday, November 17, and starts at 7:00 PM at the Hamilton Elks Lodge at 203 State Street in Hamilton.


 What is eDNA and why is it of interest to TU members and conservationists? eDNA stands for environmental DNA and reflects the latest modern methodology to be employed in fisheries biology. As you can see from the photos that Mike Schwartz took of Kellie at work, the scientists go out to a stream and using carefully designed protocols run samples of water through a special filter. Back in the lab, scientists like Kellie extract the DNA from the minuscule amounts of mucous, scales, cells and biological debris that have been trapped on the filter. Then using the very latest and unbelievably powerful DNA technology and associated computer analysis, they can determine the types of fish in a particular section of river or creek. If looking for native cutthroat trout in a river system is like trying to find a needle in a haystack, eDNA technology has the effect of making the needle enormous and the haystack very small. This site has a nice description of eDNA and Kellie’s work.

With the results of the eDNA studies on a stream, MFWP biologists can now confirm the presence of native or non-native fish and focus their management and survey work. The method can also be used to look for invasive non-native aquatic species, like weeds and zebra mussels. Chris Clancy tells me that the method is even being used here in the Bitterroot.

So does this mean we will soon have a pocket test to see if there are trout in that run where we can’t get a strike? Come to the meeting and find out!

The public is invited to attend and there is no charge for admission

And, remember! We will be having dinner with Kellie at Spice of Life at 5:00 pm before the meeting. Long-time TU supporter Karen Suennen will be donating 10% of the proceeds to our club. So please come join us for dinner.

For more information, please contact Greg Chester, or Marshall Bloom 



Streamflows and Weather Prediction. Cross Your Fingers!


The amount of rain that we had last month in the Bitterroot and other parts of Western Montana was truly astounding. Many locations in the Flathead had record high amounts of precipitation and streamflows were running well above average.

This story from the Missoulian gives a good summary of rainflow as of November 1.

The Bitterroot River hydrograph at Darby shows how good the flows there have been, but you can also see how quickly the river drops once the rain stops.  The flows in the Clark Fork near Missoula are really something. You can go to this USGS site to check out data for all the streams in the state. It will become apparent that not all streams have been as fortunate as the Kootenai Clark Fork drainages. All in all, most would agree that we are going into winter with well hydrated systems!

This link is to the DNRC’s Basin by Basin Water Supply Report compiled by Ada C. Montague, who is State Water Planner for the Clark Fork & Kootenai Basins. The report may need some revision after the deluge of October, but it is informative.

Of course, the situation next year depends on snowfall this winter, what spring is like and if we get rain next summer. The National Weather Service in Missoula recently issued its forecast for the coming winter. You can see their predictions for the Northern Rockies at this YouTube site.



Short Casts…….


Picture of the Week 


This week’s photo was submitted by Tonia Bloom. The picture was snapped by during a gorgeous fall float on the Lower Clark Fork in late October.

Old Esox viciously struck an 8 inch heavily-weighted tandem streamer fly lobbed into its lair on a 9 wt rod with a steel tippet. This was a very healthy specimen estimated to be over 20 pounds and close to 40 inches – the largest fish that Jack or I had ever seen caught on a fly. Doubtful this fish got so big eating tricos or PMDs.

A couple of days later as I was showing the photo to Jim at Freestone Flies and Guides, he showed me a photo of 4 20+ inch pike caught by an angler wading downstream from Stevensville.

It is hard to know if the marked increase in pike being caught indicates expansion in range and numbers, or people looking for some variety in angling experiences. Time will tell. In the meantime, if you hear of a pike being caught upstream of Stevensville, please email me.


Thanks, John Hickman.

Perennial attendees at our BRTU banquets may have noticed that a regular figure wasn’t there. Retired Marine Corps Captain John Hickman died on October 13. John had been in failing health for the last couple of years. Prior to his death, his family and friends had donated some of John’s well-cared for tackle to BRTU and they were used at the banquet.

John could be seen at the banquet prowling the items and filling out raffle tickets with his pipe bobbing in his teeth. Unfailingly friendly and polite, he was usually in the company of another retired Marine family, Jim and Marilee Shockley.

We would like to acknowledge John, his family and his friends for their support and friendship over the years. 



Monte Dolack prints 

now available at Joe’s Studio

Copies of the limited edition “Bitterroot River-Lost Horse Bend” by Monte Dolack are now available at Joe’s Studio. BRTU commissioned Monte Dolack to create this iconic print of the Bitterroot River.

All prints are numbered and signed by Monte. Unframed prints are $175 and all proceeds support BRTU efforts to protect trout and streams. 

Joe’s Studio, a regular sponsor of our banquets, is located in Hamilton at 220 Marcus Street (961-4586, joesstudio@aol.com)

 For additional information, please contact Marshall Bloom (drtrout@mtbloom.net, 363-3485)

The “U” in BRTU

Unlike many groups, BTRU has no paid staff. We are an entirely volunteer organization. We are always looking for new members to get involved in projects or to join our board and assist with maintaining our focus on native fish, clean healthy streams and education. If you would like to help out, please contact BRTU Chapter President Greg Chester at gchester55@aol.com. We could sure use your help!

In other words, how about putting a little “U” in BRTU?

If  “U” are not already a member, “U” can join TU today by going to the Montana TU website http://montanatu.org/ Our chapter number is #080.

For your information, here is a tabulation of our current hard-working BRTU officers and board members.


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One of 12 Montana Trout Unlimited Chapters. We are focusing on the Bitterroot River and it's geographic region.
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