Montana's Overlooked Fish

Jun 13, 2014

Longhorn sculpin (Myoxocephalus octodecemspinosus)
Credit NOAA

6/15/14 & 6/16/14: This week on "Fieldnotes:" "Montana's Forgotten Fish," written by Bridger Cohan, read by Caroline Kurtz.

"Montana is a state defined by trout. Giant cutthroats and rainbows fin their way through postcards and literature, firing the imaginations of fishermen. It may therefore come as a surprise that our streams and lakes are home to much more than these salmonids. Long-nosed and largescale suckers, mountain whitefish, mottled sculpin, pike-minnows and a host of other species can all be found by the naturalist who takes the time to peer beneath the surface.

Interestingly, healthy populations of these "rough" fish may actually be a contributor to Montana's trophy trout fisheries. Sculpins, shiners and young whitefish are important forage fishes for larger, predatory salmonids, a fact attested to by the wide array of lures and flies that imitate them. A healthy population of whitefish or suckers also lets fisheries biologists know that a river or creek is healthy, as these species are very sensitive to warm or polluted water."