California Golden Trout - Oncorhynchus mykiss aguabonita
The golden trout is a California species that was introduced in Montana in 1907. There are currently about 20 golden trout populations in the high mountain lakes of western and southcentral Montana. They provide a unique opportunity to catch a beautiful fish in a pristine environment. Golden trout up to 4 pounds have been caught in Montana but typical size is usually 6-12 inches. Golden trout are spring spawners and can usually be found in inlet or outlet streams to high mountain lakes around the Fourth of July. Like other mountain lake trout species, they are opportunistic feeders, surviving off a variety of aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates.
Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
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Migrates from lakes into tributary streams to spawn.
Found only in mountain lakes in Montana; also successful in clear, cool lakes at lower elevations . Spawns in redds over clean gravel of fist size and smaller. Spawns mostly in outlets, but also in inlets and occasionally along lake shoals.
Aquatic insects are most important, but other aquatic insects and terrestrial insects are important ant times. May feed at benthos, in water column, or at surface. Zooplankton rarely taken.
Readily hybridizes with cutthroat and rainbow. Demise of former 50+ populations of golden trout largely due to introduction of other spring spawning species, whether by hybridization or replacement.
Spawns June-July at ice-out at water temperatures of 44-58 degrees F. Sexually mature: usually 3-4 years; sometimes 2 years. Incubation: about 46-52 days at temperatures of 46-52 degrees F. Fry emerge in early September.
- Additional ReferencesLegend: View Online Publication
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- Fausch, K.D. 1992. Life as a trout, predator. Trout Magazine Winter 1992. pp. 63-74
- 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. 1981. Identification of Montana's most common game and sport fishes. Montana Outdoors May/June reprint. 8 p.
- Joslin, Gayle, and Heidi B. Youmans. 1999. Effects of recreation on Rocky Mountain wildlife: a review for Montana. [Montana]: Montana Chapter of the Wildlife Society.
- Marcus, M.D., M.K. Young, L.E. Noel and B.A. Mullan. 1990. Salmonid-habitat relationships in the western United States: a review and indexed bibliography. USFS General Tech. Report RM-188. 84 p.
- Marcuson, P.E. 1984. The history and present status of golden trout in Montana. Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks. 42 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.
- Weisel, G.F. 1966. Young salmonoid fishes of western Montana. Proceedings of the Montana Academy of Sciences 26:1-21.
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