State of Montana Website Montana State Parks Website
Sun River Adopt-a-fish
Sun River Adopt-A-Fish Logo.

High up in the Bob Marshall Wilderness, under the Chinese Wall along the Rocky Mountain Front, lies the source of the Sun River. Rain and snow falling on the Continental Divide trickles eastward, down the Sun River watershed, forming creeks and streams until the water flows into Gibson Reservoir. Here is the birthplace of the Sun River.

Originally, the Sun River upstream of the mouth of the Sun River canyon had no fish. A waterfall prevented fish from moving upstream into the river's tributaries. Fish introductions made many years ago throughout the headwaters of the Sun River created some excellent trout fishing, especially in the Bob Marshall Wilderness. But after the river leaves the mountains and spills onto the prairie, agriculture takes over. Irrigated farming becomes the main use of the Sun all the way down to the city of Great Falls where it empties into the Missouri River. Use of the river water for irrigation has created a strong agricultural industry, but the fishery has suffered.

Photo looking up Sun River in canyon towards Gibson Dam.Looking up Sun River towards Gibson Dam.

This Adopt-A-Fish program investigates how agricultural demands for water affect a river system and how fish survive in a heavily used river. Visitors to this website will be able to track the movements of fish, implanted with radio transmitters. School groups will find out how to adopt a fish and ask questions of fisheries biologists. We hope the results of this project will help us find ways to improve the fishery of the Sun River while maintaining a healthy agricultural economy.

It's science and it's fun.