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Feature Fish

Carp

Are you a Montana native? To call yourself a native of Montana, you must have been born within the state. Some fish can be called Montana Natives too. A native Montana fish is a species or type of fish that has always been found in the state.

The feature fish for this issue is NOT a native of Montana!! Carp are a type of fish that were not found in Montana until about 100 years ago, when someone brought them to the state for the first time. Carp are native to China and the Asian continent. That's a long ways from Montana!

Carp are here to stay in Montana. However, there are some interesting facts about carp you might want to know. They are largest member of the Minnow Family. That's right- all carp, even a giant thirty-pounder, are actually members of the Minnow Family. You see, minnows are not just small fish. They are a special group of fish, and in Montana, the Minnow family includes fish like carp, chubs, squawfish, and shiners, in a wide variety of sizes.

Carp in Montana can be found in both rivers and lakes. They do not like fast moving water though, so look for them in larger, slower rivers and streams. Carp can tolerate turbid (or murky) water very well, and they also can live in water that does not have much dissolved oxygen.

Carp are pretty easy to identify if you see one. They have large, silvery scales, and a mouth on the bottom of their head, with two barbels on each side of their jaw. A barbel looks like a whisker, and other Montana fish have barbels too- like catfish and sturgeon. Barbels are very sensitive, and help the carp find food in murky water. Carp do not have any teeth.

Some anglers like to fish for carp, some anglers do not. A good thing about carp is that they grow very large here. The state record for carp in Montana is over 40 pounds! It was caught n Nelson reservoir near Malta in 1998. Catching carp is not very difficult. There is almost no better bait than a big juicy worm or nightcrawler. Use a small hook, since they have sensitive mouths, and let your bait rest right on the bottom, where the fish can find it with their barbels and specially adapted mouth. Then hang on- carp can fight really hard!!

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