On February 19, 2022, a fly fisherman caught a smallmouth bass on the confluence of the Gardner and Yellowstone Rivers—lower than half of a mile from Yellowstone National Park‘s North Entrance. The roughly 10-inch smallie was caught by a pupil from Montana State College. The fish struck a 9-inch streamer. The video of the catch was posted on YouTube on March 4. See it for your self beneath.
The catch is historic—and never in a great way. It’s by far the closest the non-native species has ever been documented to the nationwide park. In an electronic mail to federal and state fisheries biologists acquired by WyoFile, Yellowstone’s supervisory fisheries biologist Todd Koel stated that smallmouth bass getting into Yellowstone’s famed cutthroat waters was a possible “nightmare.”
“I spoke to the angler who supplied a video of his catch that leaves little question the place he was,” wrote Koel. “There’s a good likelihood that smallmouth within the Yellowstone River will ultimately be capable to go over Knowles Falls within the Black Canyon. If that occurs we are going to sooner or later see them at Tower, the Buffalo Ranch, and the Slough Creek campground. This would be the solely nonnative fish species within the park able to preying upon semi-aquatic animals resembling snakes or fledgling waterbirds.”
Smallmouth bass, that are native to waterways within the Midwest and East Coast, had been stocked in Montana starting in 1914 however by no means close to Yellowstone Nationwide Park, which is traditionally a cold-water fishery. The fish that was lately caught was possible a results of smallmouth bass populations slowly spreading from the Tongue River. Lately, scientists had apprehensive that smallmouth populations have been creeping closer and closer to the park due to rising temperatures. The February 19 catch justifies these fears—and alerts that an invasion of smallmouth bass, that are voracious predators and may outcompete trout, could also be inevitable.
Yellowstone Nationwide Park is not any stranger to the impacts of invasive fish. The park, together with conservation companions resembling Trout Limitless, has battled non-native lake trout in Yellowstone Lake for years with combined success. It’s presently unclear what steps fishery managers might take to maintain one more invasive species from invading the world-renowned park
The unidentified angler that caught the smallmouth bass wasn’t conscious that smallies had by no means been caught so near the park and did launch the fish—although he later regretted it. Anglers are inspired to creel and report any smallmouth bass they could catch whereas fishing within the Higher Yellowstone River drainage.