Wednesday Wake-Up Call: 09.13.23

The beauty of the iconic Big Hole Valley belie the troubled trout populations that swim there.
Photo courtesy Big Hole Lodge

Welcome to the latest installment of the Wednesday Wake-Up Call, a roundup of the most pressing conservation issues important to anglers. Working with our friends at Trout UnlimitedBackcountry Hunters & Anglers, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation PartnershipThe Everglades FoundationCaptains for Clean WaterVoteWater.orgBonefish & Tarpon Trust, and Conservation Hawks (among others), we’ll make sure you’ve got the information you need to understand the issues and form solid opinions.

1. “Zombie Trout” on the Big Hole Signal Bigger Problems Ahead

Over the past few months, we’ve highlighted some of the problems facing trout populations in southwestern Montana, especially on the Big Hole. Writing in the New York Times, Jim Robbins does a deep dive into the situation, talking to Wade Fellin of Big Hole Lodge, scientists, and conservationists about the many factors contributing to recent population crashes and signs of disease in trout landed by anglers.

The signs of an altered river ecosystem are hard to miss. Clouds of insects no longer hover in such big swarms, and some key species, like the salmonfly, that are critical sources of food for fish are less abundant.

Those shifts are occurring at the same time that state biologists report that the numbers of brown and rainbow trout in the river have plummeted over the last seven years to historic lows, with strange maladies afflicting some of the most sought-after fish.

It’s important that we don’t look at these as one-river problems. The Big Hole seems to be a canary in the coal mine, and it’s possible that we will see similar situations on other watersheds in the near future. That’s why it’s so important that we get to the bottom of what’s going on and start addressing solutions.

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2. Take Action to Save Louisiana Redfish

Photo by Irene Kato

Louisiana is considering the first regulation change for redfish since 1988. For a state not known for proactive fisheries management actions, the proposed changes currently on the table are historic. The population of redfish in the state has fallen from an estimated 23 million to 8.7 million fish. Substantial changes are required to ensure legendary fishing for generations to come. The new proposal would rebuild this iconic population in only 12 years (as opposed to almost 30 years).

While Louisiana still offers the best redfish angling in the world, we must address this situation quickly. With every season that passes, the situation will become more difficult to repair. A community of Louisiana guides is calling for everyone from around the country to support these changes—you can do so by visiting the American Saltwater Guides Association website and signing the official letter to the state on behalf of yourself and/or your business. Time is short. Don’t wait: Comments must be submitted by October 1, 2023.

Click here to learn more and sign the official letter at

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