Sean Jansen

The Spawn

   ~Sean Jansen

As winter shifts to spring, the landscape slowly changes. Snow begins to recede, the rivers slowly swell, and the temperatures begin to rise. Sunny days beat down on the mountains and trickle the remaining snowpack down the peaks, off the roofs, through the rain gutters and slowly to the rivers. The low deep pools of the slowly churning clear water begin to green with the snowmelt ever increasing, adding to the dominoes of winter run off. Water flows in places it hasn’t in months and the riverbanks and forest floors thaw and sprout, creating life. Life that begins to open its eyes both on land and below the surface. Even we are beginning to hang up the skis and reach for the waders and fly rod with mindsets shifting to the rivers and bodies of water that begin their life where we spent playing the last four months.

Spring is the season of life. Season of love. Excited with the arrival of warmth and sun, new life flourishes. Bears crawl out of their dens, elk and moose begin climbing to elevations buried in the months previous, and fish begin to move upstream out of their deep holes and into the riffles, lifeless during winter months. All life in spring is important, but none here in Montana may have such an importance more so than that of trout.

The fishing industry in the state of Montana is indeed a Billion dollar industry, yes billion. With that being said, people from all over the country and around the world flock to Montana for the fishing. I myself first came here from California simply for the fly fishing. And with more and more pressure on the precious river systems and fish, the understanding and knowledge of the ethical and practical methods with which we fish and the environment they thrive in is needed no more than ever.

Many species of fish call Montana home, but the numerous specie of trout are undoubtedly the prized possession. The kaleidoscope of color, wide range of size, and the environment they live in are all part of the system that make Montana so unique. Trout are a keystone specie, meaning they must thrive and in healthy numbers in order for all other species of life in the state to as well. The trout go, all life thereafter will go as well. In saying that, Spring is the unofficial start of movement for anglers to begin their casts. However it is the official movement of the Rainbow and Cutthroat Trout spawn.

Trout typically spawn in what is known as a Redd. A redd is a small fine graveled area of the creek or river bottom where the female lay there eggs and the males swim over the release their sperm on top of the eggs. Typically in a shallow and narrow section of river away from the main stem and main current where for the most part, it is relatively safe from predators and calm so the fry can get used to its new life cycle.

For anglers this knowledge is of the utmost importance as knowing where and what a redd is so one doesn’t step into and kill the possibly hundreds of eggs laying dormant. Spring is a popular time for anglers as the egg bite and swinging of fish fry patterns can be some of the hottest fishing on the river. But you must be cautious wading and actually fishing over a redd. If a trout is spotted on one, please refrain from fishing on that particular section of river as to let nature run its course so the trout can remain healthy despite the growth and popularity of angling in Montana.