Montana Fish : Brown Trout

Brown Trout - Montana Fly Fishing Species

Brown Trout : Montana Fly Fishing Species

Hailing from the rivers of Europe and Western Asia, brown trout (Salmo trutta) are not native to Montana's waters. First introduced to North America in 1883, these adaptable fish found their way into Montana's Madison River by 1889. Today, brown trout inhabit most of Big Sky Country, thriving in larger, slower-moving rivers and streams as well as in reservoirs.

Anglers fishing with our Bozeman fly fishing guides can expect to encounter Brown Trout on all of the Montana fly fishing waters where we operate. Advanced anglers frequently use streamer fly fishing techniques to target big Brown Trout on the Madison, Yellowstone, and Jefferson rivers.

While stocking programs rapidly expanded their range in the early 1900s, self-sustaining wild populations are now common. Brown trout displace less adaptive native trout like cutthroat and rainbow. Their fall spawning season also provides an advantage, allowing eggs to incubate safely outside of summer's irrigation season.

A robust species, most adult brown trout measure 12-20 inches, though monsters like the current state record of 29 pounds roam Montana’s waters. Compared to native trout, brown trout are more predatory, using their large size and nocturnal feeding patterns to ambush small fish, crayfish, and other prey. Thriving in habitats ranging from high mountain streams to meandering valleys, non-native brown trout are here to stay in the rivers and lakes of Big Sky Country.