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Mountain-Prairie Region


Common Game Fish of the Mountain-Prairie Region

Brook Trout

Salvelinus fontinalis
The original range of the brook trout was Northeastern North America from the Artic Circle to Georgia and west to the Mississippi River; however, it has been introduced extensively throughout the Rocky Mountain Region. It has smaller scales and reaches a smaller size than either the brown or rainbow, normally reaching a weight of less than 3 pounds. The record weight for a brook trout is 14 pounds 8 ounces. The top of the head and upper surface of the body are heavily vermiculated with light wavy lines. Its natural habitat consists of small, cold, clean streams and brooks, where it feeds mainly on aquatic insects and other invertebrates. Brook trout have displaced many populations of native cutthroat trout in many small streams in the Rockies.


Stizostedion vitreum vitreum
The largest U.S. member of the perch family, the walleye has a record weight of 25 pounds. They occur throughout central and eastern continental North America from the freshwater areas adjacent to the Hudson Bay southward to extreme northern Mississippi and Alabama and stocking continually extends their range. Walleye inhabit open waters of large and small lakes, reservoirs, and the deep pools of streams; and voraciously feed on other fishes, insects and crustaceans. The walleye is considered to be one of the best eating of all freshwater fishes. Spawning occurs at night, sometimes in extremely shallow water.

Largemouth Bass

Micropterus salmoides
The largemouth is found in every state, but originally ranged from the Great Lakes region to the Rio Grande and eastward to Florida. It prefers somewhat turbid, weedy, quiet waters and is a great favorite with the angler. It may be distinguished from the closely related smallmouth by its larger size, the dark lateral stripe, and the fact that the posterior end of the upper jaw extends to beyond the eye in adults. The largemouth reaches a record weight of 22 pounds 4 ounces and feed mainly on other fishes.


Lepomis macrochirus
The natural range of the bluegill included the Great Lakes region to southern Florida, and the Gulf States, west to Arkansas. Besides being a prime food and sports fish, it is also widely used as forage for larger species such as black bass. Its use in farm ponds and reservoirs has extended its range throughout the United States and into Mexico. It may be distinguished from other sunfishes by the solid black gill-tab of the adult and dark bands that extend the full depth of its body. Breeding males, which show a rust-red breast, vigorously defend eggs which are laid in shallow depressions. It feeds mainly on small fishes and invertebrates and reaches a length of nearly a foot and a record weight of 4 pounds 12 ounces.

Brown Trout

Salmo trutta
Introduced from Europe in 1883, the brown trout is now widely established in Northeastern and Western United States. In the Mountain-Prairie Region, the brown trout fisheries in rivers such as the Green in Utah, and the North Platte in Wyoming are famous with fly-rodders throughout the nation. It is more difficult to catch than brook of rainbow trout and has a reputation for being able to resist environmental changes. The coloration is normally yellowish-olive dorsally, with black and occasional orange-red, blue-bordered round spots on the sides. Brown trout have attained a weight of 35 pounds. Food is primarly insects, other invertebrates, and smaller fishes.

Rainbow Trout

Oncorhynchus Mykiss
Introduced widely throughout the United States, the rainbow had a natural range from the mountains in northern Mexico through the Pacific drainage in the Western United States to the Aleutian Islands. The rainbow has been introduced, with varying degrees of success into each State in the Mountain-Prairie Region. A great favorite with the angler, it may be distinguished from other native species by the rosy lateral band that extends from the gill cover to the base of the tail fin and the numerous black dots that pepper the greenish-golden back, sides, and upper fins. Rainbows that go to sea and return to freshwater are called steelheads. The rainbow can reach a weight of more than 10 pounds and feeds on small fishes and invertebrates.

Channel Catfish

Ictalurus punctatus
The range of this catfish includes virtually all of the U.S. from southern Canada to central Florida and Mexico. In the Mountain-Prairie Region, the channel catfish is native to much of the Missouri River drainage. Adults are silvery-gray to nearly black above, and paler on the sides; sub-adults are usually marked with scattered black spots. It may be distinguished from its close relatives the bullheads by the slender tail base and the widely forked caudal fin. Omnivorous in habit and easily pond-reared, the channel catfish feeds on small invertebrates, fishes, and vegetation, and is active mainly at night and during the twilight hours. Adult size is about 30 inches with a weight of around 15 pounds; however, the record weight for this species is 58 pounds.