Brook Trout in Alpine Lakes
By Mike Blackbird
Photos courtesy of Mitch Alexander and Marty Gibson
From late June until the end of October each year, Mitch Alexander and Marty Gibson trundle off on Thrashing Thursday to fish one of the myriad alpine lakes of the Bitterroot Range. Mitch’s weekly Thrashing Thursday postings on Facebook are replete with photos of cathedralesque mountains embracing the lapis lazuli waters of one alpine lake or another. Also on display is evidence of Mitch and Marty’s prowess as fish whisperers.
Intrigued by the notion of Thrashing Thursday, I asked Mitch if I might accompany Marty and him one Thursday last August. Mitch recommended we hike into Upper Glidden Lake on the Idaho/Montana border, one of the fifty-plus alpine lakes in Shoshone County. He said it was a relatively flat hike from the trailhead and not too long. I wasn’t concerned about a long hike but I appreciated Mitch’s consideration of my senior status.
Before we left, I asked Mitch how Thrashing Thursday came about. He told me that he and Marty both have Thursdays off. Since both are ardent fishermen and backpackers, they decided to take advantage of the day and head for the mountains. As for the name, they chose Thrashing Thursday just because they like the sound of it, although Mitch did say that some alpine lakes lack trails and require thrashing to get to.
Most of these lakes are stocked with eastern brook trout, the most abundant trout found in northern Idaho’s alpine lakes. Brook trout are popular because they are tasty to eat and easy to catch. Nonetheless, they are a mixed blessing, because they’re an invasive species that competes with native cutthroat, which contributes to the decline of that species. Accordingly, the Idaho Fish and Game Department doesn’t view brook trout fondly.