Sorting Spawners

One Way to Help Native Cutthroat Survive

By Kris Milgate

On weekends, I hit the hills with my family to play and at the same time I scout for places to shoot video. On weekdays, I return to those places with my camera equipment to work.

Following this routine of scout, then shoot, I’m lying on wet boulders in Swan Valley’s Palisades Creek on a sunny June day. While hiking with my kids the previous Sunday, I saw fish jumping a four-foot waterfall. Now it’s Monday afternoon and I’ve returned in waders. It’s sweaty hot on the rocks. It’s painfully hard to hold still. I’m belly-growl hungry for the granola bar in my pack on the bank. I’m questioning my strategy when the first trout finally breaks the current in front of my lens.

“It is really amazing what fish can do when they’re trying to go spawn,” says Brett High, Idaho Department of Fish and Game regional fisheries biologist, as he sits by the rushing river on an overturned bucket. “We’ve seen fish hold their positions almost vertically for several seconds.” 

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