Search Field Guide
Advanced Search
Montana Animal Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Rainbow Trout - Oncorhynchus mykiss

Google for more images Google for web pages

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S5

Agency Status
USFWS:
USFS:
BLM:
FWP Conservation Tier: 4


 

External Links





 
General Description
The rainbow trout is Montana's number one game fish. Rainbow trout were introduced from numerous hatchery stocks into virtually every suitable habitat in the state, beginning in 1889. Scientists believe that only the rainbow trout of the upper Kootenai River drainage are native to this state. This small group of natives are a Fish of Special Concern. Rainbow trout introductions have caused a severe reduction in the range of the native cutthroat trout through hybridization and competition. Rainbow trout fare well under a wide range of habitat conditions from ponds to reservoirs, lakes, and streams. Various strains of rainbow trout, like breeds of cattle, are used for different purposes. The state has stocked hundreds of millions of rainbow in state waters in the last 100 years. However, today the policies have evolved and rainbow trout are stocked primarily in lakes and reservoirs but no longer in streams. The state record for rainbow trout is over 33 pounds, and fish of up to 10 pounds are common in some of our most productive waters. Rainbow are efficient at feeding on plankton, aquatic and terrestrial insects, and occasionally some smaller fishes. They spawn in early spring in running water, usually April or May, and maintain themselves quite nicely if the habitat is not degraded.

Diagnostic Characteristics
Montana: both pure and moderately hybridized populations of westslope cutthroat trout have a high incidence of basibranchial teeth, whereas pure rainbow trout lack these teeth; presence of basibranchial teeth in some individuals of a rainbow trout population indicates hybridization with westslope cutthroat trout (leary et al. 1996). Individuals living in large or turbid lakes or under ice tend to be iridescent silver.

Species Range
Montana Range

Click the legend blocks above to view individual ranges.
 


Summary of Observations Submitted for Montana
Number of Observations: 22453

(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version) Map Help and Descriptions
Relative Density

Recency

 

(Records associated with a range of dates are excluded from time charts)



Migration
Migrates into tributary streams from lakes to spawn and river populations may also move upstream and/or into tributary streams.

Habitat
Cool clean streams, lakes, res., farm ponds. Able to withstand wider range of temperatures than most trout. Spawns in streams over gravel beds (Brown 1971, Holton 1981).

Food Habits
Feed mainly on aquatic insects but eat what is available to them. Large adults also eat fish (Brown 1971). River populations mostly insect eaters while zooplankton and forage fish are important in Lake Koocanusa (Huston et al. 1984).

Ecology
Populations of native and introduced rainbow trout as well as their hybrids coexist in Kootenai River drainage.

Reproductive Characteristics
Sexually mature 2-3 years but sometimes 1 year. Spawns April-July depending on water temperatures. Eggs hatch in 50 days at 50 degrees F. (Brown 1971). Young smolt at 0-2 years in tributaries and lake Koocanusa (Huston et al. 1984, May and Huston 1979).

References
  • Additional ReferencesLegend:   View WorldCat Record   View Online Publication
    Do you know of a citation we're missing?
    • Johnson, J. H. 1985. Comparative diets of Paiute sculpin, speckled dace, and subyearling steelhead trout in tributaries of the Clearwater River, Idaho. Northwest Sci. 59:1-9.
    • Land & Water Consulting, Inc., Missoula, MT., 2002, Montana Dept. of Transportation Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Report, Year 2001: Big Spring Creek, Lewistown, Montana. Proj. No. 130091.029. July 2002. In 2001 Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Reports, Vol. I.
    • Land & Water Consulting, Inc., Missoula, MT., 2002, Montana Dept. of Transportation Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Report, Year 2002: Big Spring Creek, Lewistown, Montana. Proj. No. 130091.029. February 2003. In 2002 Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Reports, Vol. I.
    • Olenick, R.J., J.H. Gee. 1981. Tiger Salamanders (Ambystoma tigrinum) and stocked rainbow trout (Salmo gairdneri): potential competitors for food in Manitoba prairie pothole lakes. Canadian Field Naturalist 95(2): 129-132.
    • Zackheim, Karen, 1973?, Exhibit H: Wildlife Study. In Ash Grove Cement Co. files.
  • Web Search Engines for Articles on "Rainbow Trout"
Login Logout
Citation for data on this website:
Rainbow Trout — Oncorhynchus mykiss.  Montana Field Guide.  Montana Natural Heritage Program and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.  Retrieved on December 21, 2014, from http://FieldGuide.mt.gov/speciesDetail.aspx?elcode=AFCHA02090
 
There are currently 10 active users in the Montana Field Guide.