Brook Trout - Salvelinus fontinalis
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.
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).
Summary of Observations Submitted for Montana
Number of Observations:
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(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)
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.
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.
Stunting is often a problem in high mountain lakes and rapid cold mountain streams. May cross with brown trout to produce infertile tiger trout.
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).
- Additional ReferencesLegend: View Online Publication
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- 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.
- Zackheim, Karen, 1973?, Exhibit H: Wildlife Study. In Ash Grove Cement Co. files.