As a group, all 56 native fish still inhabit Montana but some are facing a long fight for survival. Most of our best-known fish- rainbow trout, brown trout, largemouth bass, and walleye- are not native to Montana, but were introduced by newcomers as sport fish.
Montana's native fish adapted to a life in mountain and prairie streams over thousands of years- enduring wild spring floods, summer droughts, and long, cold winters.
As new settlers changed Montana's landscape, the cycle of life changed for Montana's native fish as well. The eventual planned and unplanned introductions of non-native fish also added new challenges to our native fishes' struggle to survive in Montana waters.
Like a family heirloom passed from generation to generation, Montana's native cutthroat trout are among the treasures that make Montana such a special place. Montana's native fish are Nature's Keepers and it's up to all of us to keep it that way.