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Bull trout counts
down in Flathead,
up in the Swan Valley

November 6, 1997
Seeley Swan Pathfinder


Counts of bull trout nests dropped dramatically in the North and Middle forks of the Flathead drainage, setting new record lows. But in the Swan and in the South Fork Flathead river drainages, counts increased to record highs.


Counts of nests in four North Fork Flathead index tributaries declined by about one-third from last year; 83 nests were found in 1995 as compared to 52 in 1996. In the Middle Fork index tributaries, counts plummeted by two-thirds: from 78 nests in 1995 to only 31 in 1996.


Meanwhile, bull trout nest counts were at record highs of 526 nests in the four Swan River index tributaries, and 353 nests in South Fork Flathead tributaries above Hungry Horse Reservoir. Hungry Horse Reservoir index tributaries also showed an increase.


Bull trout nest counts provide an annual index of adult bull trout spawner numbers in selected tributaries. They do not represent a total count of bull trout spawning sites in these drainages.

Summary of Swan Drainage bull trout spawning site inventories: 1986-1996

Stream 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996

Elk .......53 ..162 ..201 ..186 ..136 .140 ..143 ..139 ..195 .150 ..176

Goat .....56 ....31 ....46 ...34 ....27 ...31 ...17 ....64 ....66 ...32 ...52

Squeezer 55 ....64 .....9* ..67 ....42 ..101 ..115 ...106 ...91 ..149 ..117

Lion .....46 ....33 ....65 ...84 ....58 ....94 ..100 ...123 ..141 .170 ..181

TOTAL 210 ..290 ..321* 371 ..263 ..366 ..375 ...432 ..493 .501 ..526

*High flows may have obliterated some redds.


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