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Montana Field Guides

Brook Trout - Salvelinus fontinalis

Non-native Species

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: SNA

Agency Status
USFWS:
USFS:
BLM:


 

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General Description
The "brookie" or brook trout was introduced to Montana from eastern North America in 1889. It too, was extensively propagated and stocked in the early half of this century, although seldom so today. Brook trout favor small, cold, headwaters streams and ponds, particularly those that are spring-fed. Brook trout are common throughout most of the western two-thirds of the state in all major drainages. Many an angler learned to fish for brookies as a kid. Spawning occurs in typical trout-like fashion with eggs deposited in a gravel redd during the fall. Brook trout are frequently able to spawn successfully in ponds which have upwelling springs. Brook trout will eat nearly any living organism, and larger fish can be voracious predators on other fish and even their own young. Brook trout are a handsome game fish in their own right, but indiscriminate stocking in mountain lakes has resulted in irreversibly stunted populations in many cases. Trophy brook trout up to 9 pounds have been taken in Montana waters.

Diagnostic Characteristics
Key diagnostic features include: wavy lines on back; dorsal fin with black markings; lateral red spots with blue halos; tail fin squarish or slightly forked; pectoral, pelvic, and anal fins with white leading edge set off by black line (Holton and Johnson 1996).

Species Range
Montana Range

Non-native
 


Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 12634

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

Recency

 

(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)



Habitat
Prefers small spring fed streams and ponds with sand or gravel bottom and vegetation. Clear, cool water (Brown 1971, Holton 1981). Spawns over gravel in either streams or lakes with percolation;spring areas in lakes. Often overpopulates, resulting in fish too small to attract anglers.

Food Habits
Feed mainly on aquatic insects and other small aquatic invertebrates throughout life. Larger individuals may eat small fish (Brown 1971). Flathead River study found ephemeroptera and trichoptera were dominant insects in diet.

Ecology
Stunting is often a problem in high mountain lakes and rapid cold mountain streams. May cross with brown trout to produce infertile tiger trout.

Reproductive Characteristics
Sexually mature usually in 2 years but may spawn after 1 year. Spawns Sept. - Oct. Eggs laid in redd and fry emerge Feb-April. Fry seek shelter in vegetation or shallow water near shore (Brown 1971).

References
  • Literature Cited AboveLegend:   View Online Publication
    • Brown, C.J.D. 1971. Fishes of Montana. Montana State University, Bozeman, MT. 207 pp.
    • Holton, G. D. and H. E. Johnson. 1996. A field guide to Montana fishes. Second Edition. Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Helena. 104 pp.
    • Holton, G.D. 1981. Identification of Montana's most common game and sport fishes. Montana Outdoors reprint.
  • Additional ReferencesLegend:   View Online Publication
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    • Alvord, W. 1953. A study of scales from known-age trout. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 31 p.
    • Avery, E.L. 1969. Effects of domestic sewage on aquatic insects and salmonids of the East Gallatin River, Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 23 p.
    • Bahn, L. 2007. An assessment of losses of native fish to irrigation diversions on selected tributaries of the Bitterroot River, Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 118 p.
    • Belford, D.A. 1986. Abilities of trout to swim through highway culverts. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 67 p.
    • Bishop, C.G. 1953. Age, growth, and condition of trout in Prickley Pear Creek, Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 22 p.
    • Boussu, M.F. 1953. Relationship between trout populations and cover on a small stream. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 26 p.
    • Burford, D.D. 2005. An assessment of culverts of fish passage barriers in a Montana drainage using a multi-tiered approach. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 50 p.
    • Clancey, T.P. 1983. Effects of renovation on the Sacajawea Park Lagoon system in Livingston, Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 54 p.
    • Clothier, W.D. 1952. Fish loss and movement in irrigation diversions from the West Gallatin River, Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 32 p.
    • Craig, V.E. 1952. A story of fish production as it applies to Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 92 p.
    • Domrose, R.J. 1960. Age and growth of brook trout, (Salvelinus fontinalis), in Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 32 p.
    • Drinan, D.P. 2010. Thermal adaptation of Westslope Cutthroat Trout Onchorynchus clarkii lewisi. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 58 p.
    • Elser, A.A. 1967. Fish population of a trout stream in relation to major habitat zones and channel alterations. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 27 p.
    • Endicott, C.L. 1996. Responses of riparian and stream ecosystems to varying timing and intensity of livestock grazing in central Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 115 p.
    • Fry, J.P. 1960. The food of rainbow trout, brown trout and brook trout fry and fingerlings from five southwesternMontana streams. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 37 p.
    • Galloway, B.T. 2014. Feasibility assessment for translocation of imperiled Bull Trout populations in Glacier National Park, Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 110 p.
    • Gangloff, M.M. 1996. Winter habitat and distribution of Artic Grayling in Upper Red Rock Lake, Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 101p.
    • Gilham, A.T. 2016. Relationship between intensity of livestock grazing and trout biomass in headwaters of east front rocky mountain streams, Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 45 p.
    • Gunderson, D.R. 1966. Stream morphology and fish populations in relation to floodplain use. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 21 p.
    • Gustafson, D. L. 1990. Ecology of aquatic insects in the Gallatin River drainage. Ph.D. Dissertation. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 194 p.
    • Holton, G.D. 1952. A trout population study on a small creek in Gallatin County, Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 46 p.
    • Katzman, L.A. 1998. Effects of predation on status of Arctic grayling at Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 207 p.
    • Kraft, M.E. 1968. The effects of controlled dewatering on a trout stream. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 31 p.
    • Land & Water Consulting, Inc., Missoula, MT., 2002, Montana Dept. of Transportation Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Report, Year 2002: South Fork Smith River, Ringling, Montana. Proj. No. 130091.016. February 2003. In 2002 Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Reports, Vol. II.
    • Lere, M.E. 1982. The long term effectiveness of three types of stream improvement structures installed in Montana streams. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 99 p.
    • Lewis, S.L. 1967. Physical factors influencing fish populations in pools of a trout stream. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 34 p.
    • Logan, S.M. 1961. Winter observations on trout and bottom organisms in Bridger Creek, southwestern Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 30 p.
    • Lyden, R.S. 1973. Fisherman use and fish harvest on the West Gallatin River, Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 34 p.
    • McCullough, A.R. 2017. Relations among Arctic Grayling, nonnative salmonids, and abiotic conditions in the Big Hole River, Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 143 p.
    • Mogen, J.T. 1996. Status and biology of the spawning population of Red Rock Lakes Arctic grayling. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 90 p.
    • Moran, S.S. 2001. Survey of habitat & fish communities in segments of Cherry Creek, a proposed site for re-introduction of Westslope Cutthroat Trout. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 121 p.
    • Naughton, J.P. 2013. Salmonid response to superfund remediation in Silver Bow Creek, Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 151 p.
    • Nelson, F.A. 1976. The effects of metals on trout populations in the Upper Boulder River, Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 60 p.
    • Nelson, M.L. 1999. Evaluation of the potential for resident bull trout to reestablish the migratory life-form. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 72 p.
    • Nelson, P.H. 1953. Life history and management of the American Grayling (Thymallus signifer tricolor) in Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 45 p.
    • Novak, M.A. 1988. Impacts of a fire-flood event on physical and biological characteristics of a small mountain stream. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 98 p.
    • Opitz, S.T. 1999. Effects of whirling disease on recruitment of brown trout in the Ruby River and Poindexter Slough, Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 97 p.
    • Peterson, N.W. 1970. The yield of wild and hatchery trout from Big Spring Creek, Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, Montana: Montana State University. 35 p.
    • Pierce, B.E. 1963. Distribution of fish in a small mountain stream in relation to temperature. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 16 p.
    • Poore, M.D. 1973. The fishery resource of Mystic Lake, Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 30 p.
    • Posewitz, J.A. 1961. Observations on the fish population of Willow Creek reservoir, Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 29 p.
    • Purkett, C.A. Jr. 1950. A comparative growth rate of trout in relation to elevation and temperature. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 33 p.
    • Reiland, E.W. 1997. Fish loss to irrigation canals and methods to reduce these losses on the West Gallatin River, Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 170 p.
    • Ritter, T.J. 2015. Connectivity in a montane river basin: Salmonid use of a major tributary in the Smith River system. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 120 p.
    • Roberts, B.C. 1988. Potential influence of recreational use on Nelson Spring Creek, Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 79 p.
    • Schaplow, B.M. 1976. The effects of channelization and mitigation on the morphology and trout populations of the St. Regis River, Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 46 p.
    • Schoenthal, N.D. 1963. Some effects of DDT on cold water fish and fish-food organisms. Ph.D. Dissertation. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 47 p.
    • Schrader, W.C. 1989. Trout mortality, movements, and habitat selection during the winter in South Willow Creek, Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 89 p.
    • Sestrich, C.M. 2005. Changes in native and nonnative fish assemblages and habitat following wildfire in the Bitterroot River Basin, Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 93 p.
    • Spoon, R.L. 1985. Reproductive biology of Brown and Rainbow Trout below Hauser Dam, Missouri River, with reference to proposed hydroelectric peaking. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, Montana: Montana State University. 144 p.
    • Stefanich, F.A. 1951. The population and movement of fish in Prickley Pear Creek, Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, Montana: Montana State University. 42 p.
    • Streu, J.M. 1990. An evaluation of habitat improvement structures in the Boulder River, Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 54 p.
    • Stringer, A.L. 2018. Status of Northern Pearl Dace and chrosomid dace in prairie streams of Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 150 p.
    • Sylvester, R. and B. Marotz. 2006. Evaluation of the Biological Effects of the Northwest Power Conservation Council's Mainstem Amendment on the Fisheries Upstream and Downstream of Hungry Horse and Libby Dams, Montana. Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks Annual Report prepared for U.S. Department of EnergyBonneville Power Administration. Bonneville Power Administration Project No. 2006-008-00 Contract No. 28350. 124 p.Contract No. 28350
    • Sylvester, R. and B. Stephens. 2011. Evaluation of the physical and biological effects of the Northwest Power Conservation Council's Mainstem Amendment upstream and downstream of Libby Dam, Montana. Libby, MT: Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks Annual Report prepared for U.S. Department of Energy Bonneville Power Administration. Bonneville Power Administration Project No. 2006-008-00, Contract Nos. 43309 and 48555. 282 p.
    • Sylvester, R., A. Steed, J. Tohtz, and B. Marotz. 2008. Evaluation of the Biological Effects of the Northwest Power Conservation Council's Mainstem Amendment on the Fisheries Upstream and Downstream of Hungry Horse and Libby Dams, Montana. Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks Annual Report prepared for U.S. Department of EnergyBonneville Power Administration. Bonneville Power Administration Project No. 2006-008-00 Contract No. 28350. 124 p.Contract No. 28350
    • Vatland, S.J. 2015. Effects of stream temperature and climate change on fluvial arctic grayling and non-native salmonids in the Upper Big Hole River, Montana. Ph.D. Dissertation. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 119 p.
    • Wells, J.D. 1976. The fishery of Hyalite Reservoir during 1974 and 1975. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, Montana: Montana State University. 47 p.
    • Zackheim, K. 1973. Exhibit H: Wildlife Study. In Ash Grove Cement Co. files.
    • Zubik, R.J. 1983. The fishery of Hyalite Reservoir, Montana, with an evaluation of Cutthroat Trout reproduction in its tributaries. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, Montana: Montana State University. 70 p.
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Citation for data on this website:
Brook Trout — Salvelinus fontinalis.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from