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The smallest and most common sturgeon in Montana is the shovelnose sturgeon (Scaphirhynchus platorynchus). It reaches a maximum weight of about 15 pounds. These fish can readily be ... moretaken on bait fished on the bottom and are pursued by relatively few anglers in the Missouri River downstream from Great Falls.
The Sauger (Sander canadensis) is native to Montana east of the Continental Divide. It inhabits both large rivers and reservoirs, but is mainly a river fish. In the spring, Sauger ... morebroadcast their spawn over riffles in rivers. Sauger are a highly prized sport fish and in some areas outside Montana are also commercially fished. Their major food items are insects and small fish.
The Paddlefish (Polyodon spathula) is an ancient, mostly cartilaginous fish with a smooth skin. It is a close relative of sturgeons. Although it is sometimes called a spoonbill or ... morespoonbill cat, it is not closely related to catfish. Most species of Paddlefish are now extinct, and fossil Paddlefish from 60 million years ago have been found in the Missouri River basin near Fort Peck Reservoir, Montana.

Montana is home to one of the few remaining self-sustaining populations of Paddlefish, and harbors the largest individual fish as well. Specimens have been taken weighing up to 150 pounds.
The largest and most important catfish to sport fishermen in Montana is the native channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus) of the Yellowstone and Missouri River drainages. These fish ... moreprefer warm, muddy rivers and lakes where they forage on just about any animal and some plants, living or dead. They are excellent eaters and millions of pounds of channel catfish are raised commercially in southern states for that purpose. Like all catfish, channel cats spawn in the spring or early summer. The female lays her jelly-like mass of eggs in a nesting site in a dark, protected cavity such as a muskrat burrow, under a stump, etc. and the male guards the nest until the eggs hatch. Biologists have captured channel catfish over 30 pounds in Montana but 2 to 4 pound fish are more common and better eating. The deeply-forked tail separates the channel catfish from the bullheads.
The black crappie (Pomoxis nigromaculatus) is more widespread across eastern Montana than the white crappie with some scattered populations into central and western Montana. As the ... morename implies, it is darker colored than the white crappie, and has seven or eight dorsal spines instead of the five or six spines found on the white. Crappies are spring-spawning nest-builders like all the other sunfish. Crappies are fun to catch, good to eat, and can weigh up to 3 pounds although 1/2 pound fish are the rule. They are schooling fish and notorious for their love of stumps, debris piles, or other cover.Crappies are spring-spawning nest-builders like all the other sunfish. Crappies are fun to catch, good to eat, and can weigh up to 3 pounds although 1/2 pound fish are the rule. They are schooling fish and notorious for their love of stumps, debris piles, or other cover.
The burbot (Lota lota) is easily recognized by its single chin barbel. It is native to most of Canada and the northern United States and is found in all three major river drainages ... morein Montana. Burbot, also known as ling, are usually found in larger streams and cold, deep lakes and reservoirs. They are peculiar in that they spawn during winter, under the ice. They are also largely nocturnal and have an enthusiastic following among fishermen. Burbot are voracious predators and opportunistic feeders. Like other codfish, burbot have livers which contain oils high in vitamins A and D. Despite their unconventional appearance, fishermen rate burbot tops for table fare.
The yellow perch (Perca flavescens) is a very familiar species to most fishermen. This fish was introduced into Montana and is found in abundance in many lakes and reservoirs located ... moreeast and west of the Divide. Perch support one of the largest fisheries in Montana and are considered one of the best eating fish in the state. Because of their tendency to travel in schools, perch often can be caught in large numbers, which makes up for their relatively small size and difficulty in cleaning. Young yellow perch are important prey for several sport fish. Perch drape strings of gelatinous material with eggs embedded inside over substrate or vegetation. Perch foods are invertebrates and small fish.
There are conflicting ideas among experts as to whether the walleye (Sander vitreus) is native to Montana or not. Regardless, it is one of the most important sport fishes in Montana's ... moreeastern drainage and elsewhere in the U.S. and in Canada, where the walleye is a much sought-after commercial fish as well. Its flesh is of the highest quality. In recent years some sportsmen's groups in Montana have aggressively pursued the increased planting of walleye and promoted walleye fishing tournaments. Sometimes walleye hybridize with sauger, producing sterile saugeye. Adult walleye largely eat fish and for the most part are lake and reservoir dwellers. Walleye are so named because of their large, reflective eyes which are very light-sensitive. They are very active at night.
The smallmouth bass (Micropterus dolomieu) has been called "pound for pound the best fighting game fish alive." Smallmouth are native to eastern central North America but were widely ... morepropagated in hatcheries and planted as early as the mid-1800s. They were first transplanted to Horseshoe Lake near Bigfork in 1914 and are still being introduced in selected locations by the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks. Smallmouth bass are primarily a stream fish but are also doing well in reservoirs like Fort Peck and Tongue River where specimens over 5 pounds have been taken. Smallmouth are spring, nest-building spawners. Due to erratic spring weather, nesting failure in Montana is not unusual. Smallmouth bass eat insects, frogs, crayfish, and fish.
The northern pike (Esox lucius) is Montana's lone representative of the pike family. It is native to Montana only in the Saskatchewan River drainage on the east side of Glacier Park. ... moreHowever, widespread introduction, both legal and illegal, now makes the northern pike a common gamefish statewide except for southwest Montana. Northern pike thrive in standing or slow-moving waters of lakes, reservoirs, and streams, especially where dense vegetation grows. Because of their voracious fish-eating habits they can literally eliminate their food supply in only a few years, leaving a population of terminally-stunted "hammerhandles." It is for this reason that widespread illegal pike introductions in western Montana have become a fishery manager's nightmare. And in the prairie streams of eastern MT, pike have caused widespread elimination of multiple native prairie minnow species (that did not evolve with predatory fish) in permanent and intermittent drainages. Northern pike spawn in early spring just after ice-off. They broadcast their eggs over flooded shoreline vegetation. The eggs adhere to the vegetation until the young are ready to swim on their own. Northern pike can grow to nearly 40 pounds in Montana and provide a truly outstanding sport and food fish in the appropriate waters.