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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 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.
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 Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii bouvieri) is one of two cutthroat trout subspecies in Montana. They have a golden coloration and larger spots more widely distributed ... moreon their sides than the Westslope Cutthroat Trout. The Yellowstone Cutthroat, as the name implies, is native to the Yellowstone River drainage of southwest and south-central Montana. Originally their range was as far downstream as the Tongue River, but today pure, unhybridized populations are limited to some headwaters streams and Yellowstone National Park. Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout are a Montana Fish of Special Concern. Much of their spawning habitat in tributaries of the upper Yellowstone River has been lost to irrigation withdrawals which dewater the streams before spawning and egg-incubation are completed in July and August. The Big Timber hatchery of the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks maintains a pure Yellowstone Cutthroat broodstock. Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout are used extensively for mountain lake stocking on the east slope of the Rocky Mountains and in the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness where they can grow to sizes up to 15 pounds. In general, Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout are larger than Westslope Cutthroat Trout and more prone to eat fish as part of their diet.
The rainbow trout is a very popular sport fish. It is silver colored with black spots over its body, dorsal and caudal fins. Adult fish have a distinctive "rainbow" band along the ... moreside of their body.

Rainbow trout are native to many water. They are an easy fish to raise in a hatchery and are stocked. In many cases, rainbow were stocked in both their native and new areas. Today, they are found in lakes, ponds, rivers and small streams throughout the states.

There are many varieties of rainbow trout; some of the varieties have nicknames. We usually think of rainbow trout as a beautiful, but small fish that can be caught most places, most times of the year. 

Kamloop are a type of rainbow trout that was introduced into Idaho. A Kamloop lives part of its life in a lake, and part of its life in a river or small stream. In lakes, Kamloop grow rapidly and many are over 10 pounds when they are caught. A few may get to be over 30 pounds. In fact, the world record rainbow trout was a 39-pound Kamloop from Lake Pend Oreille. Steelhead are a native type of rainbow trout that are anadromous. Anadromous means they spawn in freshwater streams, go to the ocean to grow, and return to fresh water as adults. They are common to the Clearwater, Snake and Salmon rivers.

Life History
Rainbow, Kamloop and steelhead spawn in streams from mid-April to late June. They use areas of gravel, or cobble, depending on the size of the fish. The female rainbow selects a place in a riffle area below a pool to dig a redd (nest). The female displaces the gravel with her body and tail, and the male fertilizes the eggs as they are deposited. The female covers the eggs with gravel by continuing upstream and the current carries the gravel over the eggs.

The eggs hatch in early to midsummer. The young fish may live in the stream a few months, several years, or their entire life. The juvenile Kamloop and steelhead migrate to other waters, usually after two years of rearing in the stream. The juvenile fish that migrate to lakes or the ocean will grow rapidly. The growth of those that remain in the stream varies with the amount of food and temperature of stream.

When they mature and are ready to spawn, the rainbow, Kamloop, and steelhead migrate back to the place they were born. The age of sexual maturity depends on the type of rainbow and where it lives. Most rainbow require 3 to 5 years to mature.

Spawning habitat is not available in many lakes and periodic stocking is required to replenish the population.

Feeding Habits
Rainbow trout eat insects and zooplankton in the water or on the surface. They will also feed on small fish and fish eggs. As they get larger, especially the Kamloop, they will eat larger fish. Adult steelhead holding in the river prior to spawning do not eat much, but will strike at food or lures.

Angling Techniques
The rainbow is popular with anglers. They are widely distributed in accessible waters. They have a reputation for being strong fighters which makes them popular with novice and experienced anglers alike. There are as many ways to catch rainbow trout as there are fishing methods. Rainbow will take all types of bait and lures including trolling spoons, spinners, salmon eggs, corn, or even marshmallows. Many anglers use either fly casting or spinning equipment. Knowing what they commonly feed on in that specific area will help you to choose the right bait. Ice fishing for rainbows is also popular. Usually a bait of worms, maggots, or corn is suspended off the bottom.
The mountain whitefish (Prosopium williamsoni) is familiar to most Montanans. This widespread native fish is primarily a stream-dwelling species, but populations are also found in ... morereservoirs and lakes. The mountain whitefish is found in abundance in most clear, cold rivers in the western drainages and eastern mountain front of Montana. The typical mountain whitefish is a cylindrical 10-16 inch fish, but they can reach a weight of 5 pounds. Trout fishermen frequently catch several whitefish for every trout taken. They are considered a nuisance by some anglers, but are sought after by others. Whitefish provide forage for larger trout. They have evolved with our native trout and have been shown to provide little competition with trout. Their pointed snout and small round mouth makes them efficient at vacuuming invertebrates from the substrate while trout tend to feed more on drifting insects. Mountain whitefish often congregate in large schools on their fall-spawning runs to broadcast their adhesive eggs over gravel bars in tributary streams. Mountain whitefish are one of our most important native gamefish because of their abundance and willingness to take a bait or artificial fly.
The brown trout (Salmo trutta) belongs to a different genus than our native trout species. They evolved in Europe and western Asia and were introduced to North America in 1883 and ... moreto Montana in 1889 in the Madison River. Today brown trout are found throughout most of Montana except the northwest and parts of the east. Generally, they prefer lower gradient, larger streams than cutthroat and rainbow, and they also do well in many reservoirs. Brown trout were widely stocked in the first half of this century, but today most come from natural reproduction. Brown trout are great competitors and generally are more tolerant of dewatering and other environmental disturbances than our other trout species. The state record is 29 pounds, and large fish are not at all uncommon, although 12-20 inches is the usual size range of adults. Brown trout spawn in gravel redds like our native trout but their spawning season is in the fall. This gives them a distinct advantage in some habitats since their spawning and incubation period lies outside the irrigation season. Brown trout are more predaceous than rainbow or cutthroat. Large fish often feed at night on other fish as well as crayfish and other invertebrates.