Missouri River fishermen worried about the big hit the rainbow trout in their river are taking from whirling disease would be wise to read the article on Rock Creek in today's Outdoors section.
A healthy Montana brown trout.
The story chronicles the precipitous drop in rainbow trout that Rock Creek, near Missoula, took from WD. But it points out, too, that brown trout were quick to fill the niche that the rainbows left behind. Brown trout, which are resistant to WD, filled in the good habitat and overall trout numbers remain very high. Much the same thing happened on the Madison River when it took a hit from WD in the 1990s. Why do brown trout fill in? Despite the disease, the trout habitat remains very good. And as long as the trout habitat is still sound, some kind of trout apparently will fill it. So before you get too far into the gloom and doom over WD on the Missouri, take hope. The Missouri below Holter will probably always be a great trout river -- but it just might turn into a great brown trout river, instead of a great rainbow trout river. -- mark