Which Trout are Native to the Rockies?

Anyone that has spent time in or around the Rocky Mountains has probably seen fish in the streams, rivers, lakes, and ponds.  Some of you have probably even tried fishing for them at some point.  Well, a lot of those fish are trout.

fish brown trout photo

Brown Trout – Not native

Fishermen love trout because they are challenging to catch and they put up a good fight if you actually have one on the line.

But, did you know that a lot of those trout in the water in the Rockies are not actually from the Rockies?  There are many different kinds of trout that live in the Rockies and most of them were originally put there by people.

Can you imagine if people came to the Rockies and saw that there were no lions living there and decided to bring some lions in order to give them something to hunt?  That would be crazy and nobody would do it.  Yet, that is exactly what people did with fish.  For nearly 80 years people were putting (stocking) non-native trout into the waters of Rocky Mountain National Park.  Now those introduced trout are thriving and live in most parts of the Rockies.

Non-Native or Introduced Trout:

Lake Trout – This fish is native to the northern parts of North America, including parts of Canada, lakes in the north-eastern United States, and even a few in Montana.  They have now been introduced to lakes throughout the United States and Rocky Mountains.

Rainbow Trout – This fish is native to cold water streams that flow into the Pacific Ocean.  Originally they were found along the west coast of the United States, Alaska, the Aleutian islands, and even in Russia.  Now they can be found throughout the world.

Brown Trout – Brown Trout are native to Europe, but have been introduced to waters throughout the world.

Brook Trout – This fish is native to Eastern North America, but was introduced to the Rocky Mountains where it is spreading and doing well.  It is actually the state fish for nine US states located along the East coast.

Native Trout

cutthroat trout new

Cutthroat trout

Cutthroat Trout – This fish is native to areas in the west, such as rivers that drain into the Pacific Ocean, the Great Basin, and the Rocky Mountains.  There are many species of this fish that live in different river systems, including the Colorado River Cutthroat.  This is the state fish of seven western US states, including the Rocky Mountain states.

Bull Trout – This fish is native to the high mountains of western North America, mainly in the Canadian Rockies, but including some areas in Montana, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington.