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Nonnative Rainbow Trout Through The Eyes Of An Old School Fisheries Biologist

Fishing

Thursday, April 28, 2011

A FWP file photo of a rainbow trout on the Jefferson River.

Rainbow Trout


Rainbow trout are a highly sought after sport fish in Montana. Experienced anglers may think of the state's rainbow trout when thinking of sport fish, but younger anglers might prefer the less common, native trout species for a challenge. Young biologists I know certainly seem to be attracted to the rare, native cousins of rainbows such as westslope cutthroat trout.

I suspect that in time anglers and natural resource managers will figure out that both native and nonnative trout have their place. Cutthroat trout remind us of the resilience and inherent value of a trout species that enjoyed Montana's rivers before anglers got here—and anglers who seek out rainbow trout pay the bills.

Indeed, the arrival of rainbow trout in Montana dramatically reduced the abundance of cutthroat trout. Yet, in turn, anglers, many of whom love to go after rainbow trout, support through license fees the fisheries management projects that will help restore westslope cutthroat trout, Yellowstone cutthroat trout and other native trout in their traditional ranges.