July 28, 2006
Two traps designed to monitor fish movement between Lake Helena
and the Missouri Riverís Hauser Reservoir are being removed, state
The steel traps were installed under the Causeway Bridge in 2004 as
part of the federal re-licensing program for Hauser Dam. As part of
the program, PPL Montana is required to monitor fish movement into
and out of Lake Helena. PPL Montana pays FWP to do the work.
During the nearly two-years of operation: 99 rainbow and brown
trout, 336 kokanee salmon, 24 yellow perch, 167 walleyes, 996
suckers, 32 carp and 2 ling were counted passing under the Causeway
Bridge. All of the fish were collected and released.
This phase of the Lake Helena fish monitoring study is now ending.
Anglers had been concerned that the traps were unnaturally
concentrating fish in the Causeway area resulting in overharvest.
But, data collected from anglers showed that overharvest was not
occurring based on the percentage of tagged fish kept by anglers
compared to the total estimated fish population. In addition, FWP
left the traps open on weekends throughout the spring so that fish
movement was not unduly restricted. Biologists used the traps to
catch fish during the week as part of the research project, allowing
free movement of fish on weekends.
Biologists had hoped that the experimental Causeway traps would be
an effective monitoring tool to better understand fish use of Lake
Helena. Unfortunately, the traps did not collect as many fish as
biologists hoped, and they required a lot of maintenance. The dam
relicensing requirements are ongoing, so future fish monitoring
methods in Lake Helena will be under review.
As always, the Causeway Bridge area remains a popular multi-species
fishing destination for shore anglers of all abilities.