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).
Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
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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).
- 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.
- Domrose, R.J. 1960. Age and growth of brook trout, (Salvelinus fontinalis), in Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 32 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.
- 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.
- Gunderson, D.R. 1966. Stream morphology and fish populations in relation to floodplain use. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 21 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.
- Zackheim, K. 1973. Exhibit H: Wildlife Study. In Ash Grove Cement Co. files.
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