Home Conservation The Man Who Saved Montana’s Trout Fishery

The Man Who Saved Montana’s Trout Fishery

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I’ve argued for awhile now that avid anglers and hunters, people who live and observe the resource on a regular basis, are often the best protectors of a resource. They often spot problems first, as well as have the answers on how to fix a given problem. When a person is both an avid sportsman and a biologist…well, you’d better listen to that guy!

Dick Vincent was that guy. After graduating with his masters in biology from Montana State University, Vincent went to work as a scientist for the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks service. Local anglers were complaining that the size of trout were getting smaller and smaller. Vincent proposed a radical idea to resolve the issue. It was unpopular and probably could have cost him his job had it failed. Discover the story behind his radical idea, which proved wildly successful for Montana trout.

DickVincentMontana is loaded to the gills with passionate fishermen, and more arrive by the planeload each year. But probably only a handful appreciate the complexity of the fishery they enjoy. And fewer still know to credit retired biologist Dick Vincent for the remarkable resource.

Vincent, now 73, was born in Montana, where he fished passionately while earning both his B.S. and M.S. in biology at Montana State University.

If there was a problem with Montana trout—and there was in the late 1960s—Vincent’s love and understanding of the water and the fish made him the right person to fix it.

“The enthusiasm he had up until his last day [of working] was incomparable,” says Travis Horton, a protégé of Vincent’s, and regional fisheries manager for some of Montana’s most famous rivers for 13 years.

Photos: Outdoor Life

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