Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout
The native Yellowstone cutthroat trout (photo: Pat Clayton).

What do you do when the big shipment of fishing shirts you were expecting shows up in the wrong color? Send them back? Toss them? If your Simms, you brainstorm a way to turn an unfortunate mistake into financial support for one of the country's most important species restoration efforts.

"We didn’t want the order to go to waste, but we couldn’t sell the shirts through our catalog because the colors were not what we intended to sell as part of our line,” said Rich Hohne, a marketing official with Simms. “We knew we still had some great shirts, so we called TU and offered to sell the shirts through a special offer, and give 50 percent of the proceeds to fund the telemetry work being done on Yellowstone Lake.”

Trout Unlimited's efforts to rebuild the threatened population of native cutthroat trout in Yellowstone Lake -- which revolve primarily around the removal of non-native lake trout which prey upon cutthroats -- have been underway for several years and, after a period of uncertainty about their efficacy, have begun to show significant results. But the project is a big one, that requires big dollars to sustain.

The cutthroat-saving shirt.
The cutthroat-saving shirt.

The sale of the incorrectly colored Simms shirts generated over $7,000 in support for TU's efforts. The money will be used to buy new telemetry equipment, which is used to tag and track lake trout which are captured and then released back into Yellowstone Lake. These lake trout, which TU calls "Judas fish", are monitored via the telemetry equipment. Their movements help identify the best locations to net lake trout and target lake trout eggs for destruction.

Over the last 3 summers, restoration efforts have netted some 300,000 lake trout. As noted, these efforts are beginning to bear fruit. Sampling efforts this year revealed more cutthroat trout from all age classes as well as more native fish returning to Yellowstone Lake tributaries to spawn.

Read more about Trout Unlimited's cutthroat trout restoration in Yellowstone Lake.