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Native Fish

Overview

Bull Trout.

Bull Trout

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.

Management Plan

 

Today, many Montanans are rallying to learn more about our nearly forgotten and somewhat mysterious native fish. Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks' Native Fish Management Plan will help native fish populations and their habitats. Montana's plan seeks to:

  • Monitor the presence, distribution and abundance of Montana's native fish.
  • Maintain or enhance Montana's native fish populations and habitats.
  • Encourage participation by Montana's scientific community, other state and federal agencies, and local communities to conserve and enhance our native fish populations and habitats.

Fishery Biologists

 

Steps in gathering information to learn more about Montana's native fish include:

  • Restoring native fish habitats and populations in targeted areas
  • Identifying important native fish spawning areas-where fish lay their eggs- and rearing ears- where newly hatched fish safely live and grow
  • Conducting statewide inventories of native fish populations
  • Creating conservation and recovery plans to keep native fish numbers from falling below levels that could trigger federal Endangered Species Act listings
  • Establishing management goals for all of Montana's native fish and their habitats

Names and Status of Native Fish

Fish Name

Game Fish

Fish of Concern

Endangered Species Act Status

Arctic Grayling

X

X

candidate species

Bigmouth Buffalo

 

 

 

Blue sucker

 

X

 

Brassy Minnow

 

 

 

Brook Stickleback

 

 

 

Bull Trout

X

X

threatened

Burbot

X

 

 

Channel Catfish

X

 

 

Creek Chub

 

 

 

Emerald Shiner

 

 

 

Fathead Minnow

 

 

 

Flathead Chub

 

 

 

Freshwater Drum

 

 

 

Goldeye

 

 

 

Interior Redband Trout

X

X

 

Iowa Darter

 

 

 

Lake Chub

 

 

 

Lake Trout

X

 

 

Lake Whitefish

X

 

 

Largescale Sucker

 

 

 

Longnose Dace

 

 

 

Longnose Sucker

 

 

 

Mottled Sculpin — see Rocky Mountain Sculpin

Mountain Sucker

 

 

 

Mountain Whitefish

X

 

 

Northern Pike

X

 

 

Northern Pikeminnow

 

 

 

Northern Redbelly Dace

 

 

 

Northern Redbelly X Finescale Dace

 

X

 

Paddlefish

X

X

 

Pallid Sturgeon

X

X

endangered

Peamouth

 

 

 

Pearl Dace

 

X

 

Plains Minnow

 

 

 

Pygmy Whitefish

X

 

 

Redside Shiner

 

 

 

River Carpsucker

 

 

 

Rocky Mountain Sculpin

 

 

 

Sand Shiner

 

 

 

Sauger

X

X

 

Shorthead Redhorse

 

 

 

Shorthead Sculpin

 

 

 

Shortnose Gar

 

X

 

Shovelnose Sturgeon

X

 

 

Sicklefin Chub

 

X

 

Slimy Sculpin

 

 

 

Smallmouth Buffalo

 

 

 

Spoonhead Sculpin

 

X

 

Stonecat

 

 

 

Sturgeon Chub

 

X

 

Torrent Sculpin

 

X

 

Trout-perch

 

X

 

Western Silvery Minnow

 

 

 

Westslope Cutthroat Trout

X

X

 

White Sturgeon

X

X

endangered

White Sucker

 

 

 

Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout

X

X