The upper Madison River was rewatered last week following a mechanical failure at the Hebgen Lake Dam that shut off flows to the river. A crew at the Anaconda Foundry Fabrication Co. worked all night forging a new spillway gate shaft so the dam could be fixed. The drawdown lasted only two days.
This quick action by the Foundry crew means the harm to trout in the fabled Madison will likely be minimal. Bigger fish saved themselves by moving to deeper pools, and volunteers relocated hundreds of stranded fish. The eggs buried in some brown trout redds in the reach may have been harmed, but the quick repair means river gravel may not have dried out enough to wipe out a year class of fish. Mild overnight temperatures may have prevented hard freezes in the river bed that might have wiped out eggs as well.