Fishes of Glacier National Park Montana
Conservation Bulletin No. 22
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Family 1. Salmonidae.13 Salmon. Trout. Charrs

13In addition to the Salmonidae listed here, Oncorhynchus tschawytscha, the king salmon, and Oncorhynchus kisutch, the silver salmon, have been reported as occurring near the park in Flathead Lake.

The Salmonidae are represented by three species of trout, three charrs, and one species of salmon. They constitute the chief game fishes of the region. They are fished extensively during the tourist season and the supply is maintained by natural reproduction and artificial propagation so that excellent fly fishing occurs throughout the summer.

1. Salmo clarkii lewisi (Girard). Native trout. Cutthroat trout. Montana black-spotted trout. Flat trout. Red-throated trout.

Range: Upper and middle Columbia River system, upper Missouri, Fraser, and upper Saskatchewan systems. Abundant.

FIGURE 2.—Salmo clarkii lewisi, Montana black-spotted cutthroat trout. Reproduced by permission of Department of Fisheries, Ottawa, and the Biological Board of Canada from the Trout and Other Game Fishes of British Columbia, by J. H. Dymond.

The cutthroat is the most important game fish in Glacier National Park. It was taken extensively by the survey in most of the streams and lakes, not isolated from the main rivers by waterfalls or other barriers. In the Flathead system, it is the most abundant game fish, and rises to a fly throughout the summer. East of the Divide, it is less abundant, its place being taken by the rainbow trout and other species.

The black-spotted trout spawn in the early spring shortly after the ice disappears from the lakes and streams sometimes as early as March and often as late as July or even August in the highest mountain streams and lakes. Recently hatched fry, with the yolk sac not yet fully absorbed, make their way to the surface where they usually may be seen in July. The larger fry and fingerlings occur in shallow pools of creeks. Half-grown trout are common in the beaver ponds of the larger creeks. The largest trout were taken (during the summer) in the lakes and deeper holes of the large rivers. Cutthroat trout were abundant in the following lakes: Isabel, Katherine, Grace, Howe, Trout, Arrow, and Quartz, west of the Divide, and in Lower Two Medicine, Old Man, and Red Eagle Lakes, east of the Divide.

The speciation and racial differences among the trout of Glacier National Park and adjacent regions do not form clear-cut problems of easy solution. In the Flathead system native trout occur which resemble in coloration, at least, the coastal trout of Washington and Oregon, Salmo clarkii clarkii (fig. 3). The typical coastal form has fewer scales and more numerous and smaller black spots. The latter are almost evenly dispersed over the body, while Salmo clarkii lewisi,14 the Montana black-spotted trout, the commonest variety in the park, is characterized by having fewer and larger black spots, which are most numerous posteriorly, very scarce anteriorly on the body and usually absent on the belly, and a greater number of scales. Salmo bouvieri Bendire, another form at the opposite extreme from S. c. clarkii in regard to coloration, is characterized by large black spots, similar to those of lewisi, but the spots are wholly absent anteriorly on the body and on the belly.

14Since Salmo lewisi was the first name applied to this type of coloration we select it as the valid subspecific name.

A characteristic type of coloration, especially in regard to the distribution, size, and frequency of occurrence of spots on the cutthroat trout in certain of the lakes on the west side of the park, is sufficiently different from the S. c. lewisi type of coloration (fig. 2), to suggest an other subspecies. This type of spotting is almost exactly like that shown for S. c. stomias, fig. 213 in Jordan and Everman, Bulletin 47, U. S. National Museum Pt. 4. It is unlike the coloration for S. c. henshawi, fig. 208 in Jordan and Evermann (l. c.) the spotting in that case extending down on the belly. We do not know the source of the stock of the "stomias" type of cutthroat trout which was planted in Glacier National Park and hence we cannot assign with certainty a name, although this type of coloration has been referred to the species, S. c. henshawi by numerous ichthyologists. This "stomias" type intergrades with the lewisi type in most of the lakes and streams visited by us, least so in Grace Lake (this lake is separated from Logging Lake by a waterfall) where it remains partially distinct.

Among the hundreds of cutthroat trout observed in the park by the survey, specimens were selected from numerous localities and arranged, according to the color pattern, into a series with those profusely and evenly spotted all over the body, at one end of the series, and grading down to the opposite end where the spots were few in number and located only on the caudal peduncle. This series of 30 representative specimens was then divided into the following groups: (1) profusely and evenly spotted all over body (1 specimen); (2) small to large spots most numerous posteriorly and extending on belly (5 specimens); (3) small to large spots most numerous posteriorly but not on belly (5 specimens); (4) spots large and scattered, few anteriorly but many posteriorly and none on belly (10 specimens); (5) spots large, few anteriorly on upper sides and on back, more numerous posteriorly, none on belly (8 specimens); (6) large spots occurring only on caudal peduncle region (1 specimen). These 30 specimens, grouped according to color, were found not to correlate with the following characters which were studied: (1) number of scales in the lateral line; (2) number of scales above and below the lateral line; (3) number of gill rakers; (4) number of rays in the anal, dorsal, pelvic, and pectoral fins; (5) number of vertebrae. Perhaps when man first visited the western United States numerous forms of cutthroat trout possessed definite and constant color patterns in restricted localities. That condition does not prevail at present because we have a beautiful graded series from the park, with some of the specimens at or near the opposite end of the series, taken from the same lake. The S. c. clarkii type is at one end, S. c.lewisi is intermediate and the most abundant form in Montana, while the S. c. bouvieri type of coloration is at the other end of the series. The clarkii and bouvieri types of coloration are not common in the park waters. By taking the picture as a whole, we cannot draw a definite line of demarkation between the various forms recognized above, each of which may dominate in certain restricted areas but intergrade in others.

The nomenclature which has been applied to these fish was based on an inadequate study by early authors. The problem of speciation was not comprehended when early authors described numerous forms in the West. This is attested clearly in the case of the two trout from Lake Crescent, Washington, described as Salmo gairdneri crescentis Jordan and Beardslee, in Jordan (1896) and Salmo gairdneri beardsleei Jordan and Scale in Jordan (1896). If the former species is valid, the name Salmo clarkii crescentis would be nearer correct since it is a cutthroat trout, yet both were described as a subspecies of "gairdneri" the rainbow or steelhead trout. Our examination of many hundreds of cutthroat trout from widely scattered localities in western North America convinces us that many types of color variation occur; in one locality it is of one type, in another some other type, each of which may represent local races. The difficulties of recognizing the structural difference of these "races" have been multiplied by cross-breeding of original stocks in artificial propagation.

The morphological characters so often used in the description of species or subspecies of trout, such as color pattern, rate of growth, variation in number of scales, vertebrae, fin rays, etc., need careful experimental study to prove their variability under different environmental conditions. At present enough experimental data to settle this problem of speciation are not available, although Mottley (1934) made a preliminary study. We believe that the cutthroat trout of northwestern United States is represented by one species, which may be divided into two or more races or subspecies, best represented by a more or less constant type of color pattern and by the number of scales, above, below, and in the lateral line, as well as by other characters.

2. Salmo clarkii clarkii Richardson. Coastal cutthroat trout. Speckled trout. Native trout.

Range: Coastal streams and lakes from British Columbia to California, occasionally taken in the upper waters of the Columbia River system. Not common in the park.

FIGURE 3.—Salmo clarkii clarkii, Coastal form of cutthroat trout. Reproduced through the courtesy of Dr. J. R. Dymond.

This form of the cutthroat trout is characterized by larger scales (see keys) and smaller and more numerous black spots almost evenly distributed over the body. A single large specimen referred to this species was taken on a dry fly by the survey, near the mouth of Nyack Creek (Flathead system). Other specimens intermediate in coloration between Salmo clarkii clarkii and Salmo clarkii lewisi were taken in various localities in the Flathead system. Probably cross-breeding through artificial propagation and the great adaptability of the trout are important factors in causing much structural variation among the cutthroat trout of western North America.

The habits of this form are similar to those of the Montana black spotted trout as described for that species.

3. Salmo gairdnerii Richardson. Rainbow trout.

Range: Northern United States and Canada, as far south as California. Introduced into many lakes and streams of eastern North America. Common in certain lakes and streams of the park.

FIGURE 4.—Salmo gairdnerii, rainbow trout.

The rainbow trout was taken in the park by the survey in numerous localities east of the Divide, where it is fairly abundant, but only in three places (small tributary to Middle Fork of Flathead River near Walton Ranger Station, McDonald Lake, and its tributary Fish Creek) west of the Divide. The rainbow trout grows to a fair size in the park and is one of the important game fishes.

Salmo gairdnerii is said to spawn in the park region from April to June.

4. Salvelinus malma spectabilis (Girard). Dolly varden. Bull trout. Charr.

Range: Coastal streams from Alaska to northern California and in the upper Saskatchewan River. Abundant.

FIGURE 5.—Salvelinus malma spectabilis, dolly varden or bull trout. Reproduced through the courtesy of Dr. J. R. Dymond.

The dolly varden or bull trout is abundant in the larger lakes and streams tributary to the Flathead system. It is abundant on the east side in the South Fork of Kennedy Creek and in other streams tributary to the Saskatchewan River, but the survey did not take it in the Missouri system. No doubt this species is native to the Saskatchewan drainage as Jordan (1889) reported its occurrence in South Saskatchewan.

This charr spawns on gravelly riffles in streams during the autumn. In July it may be seen around the mouths of creeks, tributary to lakes, while a month later the instinct of migration has sufficiently developed to cause its ascent of the stream. The larger males observed in the South Fork of Kennedy Creek were between 1 and 3 feet long; those almost ready for spawning had a slightly arched lower jaw and a curved snout similar to the breeding males of the Pacific salmon but less developed. The young were first observed in the streams, among gravel, during June. They were from 1 to 2-1/2 inches long. In the Flathead River young dolly vardens ranging from 3 to 4 inches up to a foot or more in length were taken during the summer in side channels and backwater.

Many of the older publications refer to the dolly varden as Salmo parkei or Salmo bairdii. The nomenclature used by recent authors is Salvelinus malma spectabilis, which name is apparently valid. This species is variable, too, but much less so than the cutthroat trout. No doubt the charr population in Isabel Lake (Park Creek drainage) and in other lakes may represent local races, the proof of which would require a detailed study.

5. Salvelinus fontinalis (Mitchill). Charr. Eastern brook trout.

Range: Northeastern North America, introduced into northwestern and western North America. Common in certain mountain lakes and streams of the Park.

FIGURE 6.—Salvelinus fontinalis, eastern brook trout. After Jordan and Evermann.

The eastern brook trout is abundant in Two Medicine River, its tributaries, and the Two Medicine Lakes, as well as in other mountain lakes where it has been introduced east of the Divide. West of the Divide, it is found only in Lake Ellen Wilson where it is the only species present, and grows to a weight of 4 pounds, but averages a little less than a pound. It rises to a fly throughout the summer and furnishes the best of fishing.

Eastern brook trout spawn during late autumn in spring water which flows up through the gravel or over it.

6. Cristivomer namaycush (Walbaum). Lake trout. Great Lakes trout. Mackinaw trout.

Range: Northern United States to the Arctic Circle. Locally common.

The lake trout occurs in Lower Two Medicine Lake and in Waterton, Crossley, Glenns, and St. Mary Lakes on the northeastern side of the park in the Saskatchewan drainage. It was not taken in the Flathead drainage of the park, although it occurs in Flathead Lake. Many of the lakes with suitable spawning areas west of the Divide appear to be well suited for lake trout, yet this species was not found. Lake trout up to 15 pounds in weight or more are taken from the lakes of the park.

FIGURE 7.—Cristivomer namaycush, lake trout. Courtesy former U. S. Bureau of Fisheries.

The lake trout spawns in late autumn among rocks and rubble along the shore and in fairly deep water.

7. Oncorhynchus nerka (Walbaum). Little Redfish. Landlocked salmon. Silver trout.

Range: Lakes in the coastal drainage from Alaska to Oregon, and in the headwaters of the Saskatchewan River in Swiftcurrent Lake where it was introduced. Not common.

FIGURE 8.—Oncorhynchus nerka, a landlocked salmon or little redfish. A pair of redfish during the breeding season. Upper, male. Lower, female.

The little redfish was introduced into Swiftcurrent Lake and during 1932 adults were taken which were nearly ready to spawn. Although this form was planted in Lake McDonald only a few adults have been seen and none were taken by the survey.

This landlocked salmon becomes mature, at a length of about 10 inches, in late summer, at which time its color changes from brilliant silvery to bright red. The males, with scarlet red sides, and the females, mostly greenish-red, migrate into streams for spawning purposes. They lay their eggs on coarse gravel riffles in the lower courses of the streams usually within a few miles of the lake. It is said that redfish spawn along the shores of certain lakes although we have not been able to verify this. During the spawning activities, redfish segregate themselves into pairs which remain over small areas of the stream bed, sometimes in water so shallow that their backs are exposed.

The process of nest building, the most obvious activity over the nest, is done largely by the females, although now and then certain males take part in it. Usually during the 2 to 4 seconds that it takes the female to flex her body for purposes of disturbing and lifting the gravel so that the current will carry it downstream, the male stands by near the lower part of the nest. The nest, about 18 by 24 inches, and 2 to 4 inches deep, is jealously defended by both sexes against invading fish by rushing at them, or by the male escorting an intruder upstream or to one side. Little redfish exhibit definite courtship activities between the intervals of nest building. If the redfish are not disturbed, the courtship acts of "nudging" and "quivering" increase in frequency and may or may not end in spawning. The spawning act was observed by Arthur D. Welander and Daniel Merriman. (See Schultz and students 1935: 74-75.) The female continues her digging undulations immediately after the spawning act, thus covering the eggs with gravel. During the breeding season numerous recently dead fish that are spawned out lie along the banks and in the pools, suggesting that death occurs soon after the completion of spawning, as has been observed for other species of Pacific salmon.

Family 2. Coregonidae. Whitefishes

8. Prosopium williamsoni (Girard). Rocky mountain whitefish. Pea nose.

Range: Streams and lakes from the Fraser River and Jasper Park southward to the Truckee River, Lahontan Basin of Nevada, and the headwaters of the Saskatchewan and Missouri systems. Abundant.

FIGURE 9.—Prosopium williamsoni, Rocky Mountain whitefish (adult). After Jordan and Evermann.

The Rocky Mountain whitefish is the most abundant Coregonid of Glacier National Park. It occurs in great numbers in all of the lower lakes and larger streams. Milner (1874a) working on Dr. Coues' collections from "Chief Mountain Lake" (Waterton Lake) described this fish as Coregonus couesi. Cope (1879, 1892) recorded it from the upper Missouri and upper Saskatchewan Rivers and recently Bajkov (1927) found it in Jasper Park in the headwaters of the Mackenzie system.

The Rocky Mountain whitefish rises to a fly occasionally, and puts up a fair fight. Its flesh is sweet and palatable, and by some persons is considered to be better than trout. The young whitefish, from 1-1/2 to 3 or 4 inches in length, occur along the shores of the lakes and in the backwaters of streams. At times they may be seen rippling the water as they rise to the surface to take adult midges. In the evening, during June, July, August, and September, the half-grown young and adults congregate around the mouths of streams tributary to the lakes. As darkness approaches many move into the streams where they can be seen by a gasoline lantern. This bright light apparently blinds them so that the observer may walk within a few inches without frightening them away. The daily migration into the stream mouth shortly after sunset appeared to be for feeding purposes or for protection, but not once did we note the slightest indication of breeding activities. The Rocky Mountain whitefish have been observed in spawning colors during the autumn when they probably spawn in the streams.

FIGURE 10.—Prosopium williamsoni (young, showing color marks on sides). After Jordan and Evermann.

Our preliminary study of the whitefish of Glacier National Park indicates that the species shows no great morphological variation among the headwaters of the three drainage systems nor do we find significant differences between the fish in this region and the form in the lower Columbia River system. Thus Coregonus couesi Milner and Coregonus williamsoni cismontanus Jordan, are considered as synonyms of Prosopium williamsoni.

9. Prosopium coulteri (Eigenmann and Eigenmann). Brown-backed whitefish. Coulter's whitefish.

Range: Alaska (Kendall 1917, 1921) to headwaters of the Columbia River. Rare.

FIGURE 11.—Prosopium coulteri, brown-backed whitefish. After Jordan and Evermann.

The brown-backed whitefish, never reported from the park before, and which seldom attains a length of 5 inches, was taken by the survey in the mouth of Fish Creek and in the mouth of McDonald Creek, tributary to Lake McDonald. The nearest locality to the park where P. coulteri has been found is at Field, British Columbia (Cope 1892), although Snyder (1917) gives a record for Diamond Lake, Stevens Co., Wash. Myers (1932) reports 21 specimens from the Chignik River, Alaska. The tributaries of Lake McDonald appear to be the third locality in the Columbia River basin where coulteri has been found. Our specimens, 10 in number and 65 to 96 mm. in length, were almost sexually mature. A large series, collected in November 1936 from the outlet of Lake McDonald, was received recently in the National Museum. These were apparently in spawning condition.

Five specimens of Prosopium coulteri were found by Dr. A. S. Hazzard in 1932 by searching at night with the gasoline lantern in Fish Creek near its mouth in shallow water and in some of the deeper holes. Again in 1934, two other specimens were taken within 100 feet of Lake McDonald, in the same creek, on August 25. The author and R. T. Smith took three on September 11 in the mouth of McDonald Creek, within 45 to 200 feet of the lake. A careful examination at night in pools and in shallow water, further upstream, indicated the absence of this characteristic whitefish. It was not found around the margin of the lake, either at night or during the daytime nor was it seen in the creek months during the day.

10. Coregonus clupeaformis (Mitchill). Whitefish. Lake whitefish.

Range: Great Lakes and the larger lakes of Canada and northern United States. Common in certain lakes.

FIGURE 12.—Coregonus clupeaformis, lake whitefish. After Jordan and Evermann.

The lake whitefish is common in Sherburne, Waterton, Lower St. Mary, and St. Mary Lakes. It was said to occur in Lake McDonald on the west side but it was not taken by the survey in the experimental gill net sets which causes us to conclude that this fish does not occur in the park waters west of the Divide. The largest specimen caught, 23 inches long, was taken in Waterton Lake where they appear to be plentiful in fairly deep water. They are seldom taken on hook and line and are not considered as game fish. This species appeared to be the chief food of the pike in Sherburne Lake during early September. According to a local fisherman it spawns in St. Mary Lake in January or a month or two later.

Family 3. Thymallidae. Grayling

11. Thymallus montanus Milner. Montana grayling.

Range: Streams of Montana. Locally common.

FIGURE 13.—Thymallus montanus, Montana grayling. After Jordan and Evermann.

Milner (1874) described the grayling from Fort Shaw, Camp Baker, and Sun River near the headwaters of the Missouri system, but as early as 1860, Head (1874) took grayling above Great Falls, Mont. Since that time it has been found to be endemic in various other localities of Montana. Even though it has been planted as a game fish in numerous lakes in Glacier National Park, it occurs in relatively few of them now. (See tables on pp. 38 to 40.) The grayling is an important game fish, usually rising to the fly readily and putting up a beautiful fight. Mr. L. O. Vaught of Jacksonville, Ill., a regular visitor in the park for more than 35 summers since 1898, reports that a single grayling was caught in Lake McDonald during the summer of 1934, the only record of its occurrence in the lake that we have been able to find and the only record west of the Divide in the park. Unfortunately it has been introduced into some lakes of the park which do not possess suitable conditions for its spawning. A notable example is the lake, Moran's Bath Tub (located above Sherburne Lake on a high ridge) which has neither inlet nor outlet and in which the grayling have been unable to spawn. This lake in 1934 was dominated by a sucker and two minnows, all of which were serious competitors for food. The grayling which remained were emaciated, merely a little flesh and skin covering their bones.

TABLE 1.—Distributed records of fishes in the Missouri River drainage of Glacier National Park
(click on image for a PDF version)

TABLE 2.—Distributed records of fishes in the Flathead drainage of Glacier National Park
(click on image for a PDF version)

TABLE 3.—Distributed records of fishes in the Saskatchewan drainage of Glacier National Park
(click on image for a PDF version)

Family 4. Catostomidae.15 Suckers

15Panstosteus jordani Evermann (1894), the mountain sucker, ranges in the Columbia River basin and upper Missouri system. It was not taken by the survey nor has it been reported from the park, but since it occurs in the headwaters of the Missouri system and in the Columbia River it no doubt may occur in Glacier National Park. Pantosteus jordani is a stream-inhabiting species, usually living in swiftly flowing water, among the stones, where it is difficult of capture. Corkerell (1908) records Carpiodes velifer (=Carpiodes damalis) Girard (1857) from the Milk River.

12. Catostomus macrocheilus Girard. Coarse-scaled Columbia River sucker.

Range: Columbia River system, and coastal streams from Sixes River, Oregon northward to the Puget Sound drainage of Washington. Common.

FIGURE 14.—Pharyngeal teeth of Catostomus macrocheilus. After Jordan and Evermann.

The coarse-scaled sucker of the Columbia River drainage is found only west of the Divide. See tables, pp. 38 to 40. It is common in all of the larger lakes and the larger streams of the Flathead drainage in Glacier National Park. It reaches a large size. Numerous specimens taken by the survey measured as much as 450 mm. (17.8 inches).

This sucker spawns in the spring, usually in April and May, when large numbers migrate up the streams and deposit their eggs on the gravel riffles in swiftly flowing water. The eggs, which measure about 3 mm. in diameter and are yellowish in color, adhere to the stones and gravel on the bottom of the stream, which prevents them from being swept away. The fry hatch in about 2 weeks, and soon move downstream until they find some backwater which is quiet or continue down until they reach a lake. Here they may be found, between 11 and 50 mm. or more in length during the summer, among logs, weeds, and in other protected places near shore in shallow water.

FIGURE 15.—Catostomits macrocheilus, coarse-scaled Columbia River sucker. After Jordan and Evermann.

During the evening and at night the adult suckers approach the shore in large schools which swim close to the bottom in shallow water. They thrust their mouths out against the rocks, stopping here and there in search of food. The large adults appear to be most numerous around the mouths of the creeks tributary to the lakes.

13. Catostomus catostomus griseus Girard. Long-nosed sucker. Fine-scaled sucker.

Range: Upper sections of the Missouri, Columbia, and Saskatchewan River systems. Common.

FIGURE 16.—Catostomus catostomus griseus, long-nosed sucker.

This sucker occurs in all of the drainage systems of the park and is abundant in the larger lakes and streams where it reaches a length of 400 mm. or longer. It is the most abundant sucker in the park, occurring on both sides of the Divide. (See tables, pp. 38 to 40.) The largest adults were taken in the larger lakes. The young from 3 to 6 or 7 inches appeared to be most abundant in the quieter waters of sloughs and side channels of the larger streams. Some were taken, however, around the outlets and inlets of lakes. In the evening and at night (by use of the gasoline lantern) this sucker can be seen foraging about near shore, when it is most easily caught by use of nets. Associated with it are other species of fish, namely, the Rocky Mountain whitefish, other suckers, and sculpins.

The long-nosed sucker, like its relative C. macrocheilus, migrates upstream in the spring and deposits its eggs on the stones of the riffles in rapidly flowing water. Ripe males with milt were seen as late as June 12, 1932, in Two Medicine River. However, most of the spawning occurs in April and in May. The fry, soon after hatching, which takes from 10 days to 3 weeks, depending on the temperature, make their way into quiet water downstream, usually into a lake where they remain the rest of the summer among logs, weeds, or in other protected areas in water but a few inches deep. During the summer of 1934, half grown suckers occurred abundantly in the side channels and sloughs of the Middle Fork of the Flathead River near Nyack.

C. c. griseus was one of the first species of fish to be known to range in the headwaters of the Missouri and Columbia systems. It was reported for the first time by Girard (1857, 1857a) as Catostomus (Acomus) lactarius from the Milk River and as Catostomus retropinnis by Jordan (1878) from the same stream. Since that time Evermann (1893) reported it as Catostomus catostomus from localities near Glacier National Park in the Little Blackfoot River near Ravalli. Eigenmann (1894) took it in the Swiftcurrent River and recently Bajkov (1927) reports its occurrence in Jasper Park, Alberta, Canada.

Our study of the ample material collected by the survey and that collected by Hubbs and Schultz in 1926 in the region south of the park, indicates that this form should be referred to the species Catostomus catostomus griseus. We have not had the opportunity to investigate the eastward extension of the range of Catostomus syncheilus in the Columbia system nor the western range of Catostomus catostomus griseus which is closely related to Catostomus pocatello Gilbert and Evermann (1894) of Idaho, as was suggested by Hubbs and Schultz (1932). It is not known exactly how griseus differs, if at all from C. c. catostomus, since only a few specimens of the latter subspecies were available. Catostomus catostomus lacustris Bajkov (1927) is another form very much like griseus. The final nomenclature of the fine-scaled suckers must await a careful study.

14. Catostomus commersonii (Lacepede). White sucker. Common sucker.

Range: Quebec, Great Lakes west to Montana, and in the headwaters of the Saskatchewan River; also in Colorado, and southward to Missouri and Georgia. Abundant.

FIGURE 17.—Catostomus commersonii, common sucker. After Forbes and Richardson.

The common sucker occurs only east of the Divide, where it has been taken frequently in Waterton Lake, Moran's Bath Tub, Two Medicine River, and in Lower Two Medicine, Lower St. Mary, and St. Mary Lakes by the survey. Girard (1858) reported this species, C. sucklii, from the Milk River, and Jordan (1878) as Catostomus teres from the same stream. Eigenmann in 1894 collected it in the Swiftcurrent River. The occurrence of this sucker and two minnows in Moran's Bath Tub, a lake lying on a high ridge with neither inlet nor outlet suggests it was brought there by man, perhaps as bait, because the lake appears never to have had any connection with an adjoining river.

The spawning habits of the white sucker are similar to those of the two other forms described above. It is most abundant in the larger lakes and during the spring occurs in large numbers in the streams.

Family 5. Cyprinidae.17 Minnows. Dace

17Apocope oscula was reported as "Agosia nubila" from Jasper Park by Bajkov (1927) along with Platygobio gracilis and Margariscus nachtriebi athabascae. Cockerell (1908) records Platygobio gracilis, Hybognathus arygritis, from the Milk River and Macrhybopsis montanus from the upper Missouri. Eigenmann (1894) reported Pimephales promeles from the Swiftcurrent River; Girard (1857) reported Macrhybopsis gelido from the Milk River. Mylocheilus caurinus occurs in Flathead Lake. None of the above forms have been found in Glacier National Park, although they occur nearby.

The cyprinids are represented by 5 species in Glacier National Park, three east of the Divide and two west of it. Rhinichthys cataractae dulcis is the only minnow which occurs in all three drainage systems, but was taken only in the Saskatchewan by the survey.

15. Ptychocheilus oregonensis (Richardson). Squawfish.

Range: Columbia River drainage, Puget Sound drainage and coastal streams of Oregon and Washington. Common in larger lakes and streams.

FIGURE 18.—Ptychocheilus oregonensis, squawfish. After Jordan and Evermann.

The squawfish occurs only west of the Divide where it is common in the Flathead system in the larger lakes close to the main river.

This species is one of the largest of the "minnows" in North America for it has been said to attain a length of nearly 3 feet. The largest specimen, 20 inches long, was taken by the author in Logging Lake.

The adult squawfish is pikelike in general habits, feeding voraciously on other aquatic animals, mostly fish, as indicated by Clemens and Munro (1934). Its jaws, like other cyprinids, are toothless, but the powerful crushing teeth on the pharyngeal bones, which occur far back in the throat, serve the same purpose very well. In general the squawfish is considered as an undesirable form in the same lake with trout.

It is said to migrate upstream in the spring to spawn on gravel riffles but the exact details have never been published.

16. Richardsonius balteatus balteatus (Richardson). Red-sided bream. Shiner. Red-sided minnow.

Range: Fraser and Columbia River system and streams and lakes of Washington and Oregon. Common.

FIGURE 19.—Richardsonius balteatus balteatus, red-sided minnow. After Jordan and Evermann.

The red-sided bream is found only west of the Divide, where it is locally common in lakes, sloughs, and the quieter waters of the larger streams. It prefers warmer and quieter water, conditions which are not common in the trout streams of the park; therefore its distribution is limited to the lower lakes, particularly the outlets of these lakes. In Glacier National Park, it was abundant in Camas Creek drainage, especially in Rogers Lake and opposite Rogers Ranch in Camas Creek, both bodies of water being warm and shallow, and well suited for suckers and minnows. The red-sided minnow grows to a length of 5 inches, but the largest specimens collected by the survey were only 4-1/2 inches in length. Because of its small size and nonvoracious feeding habits this species is one of the most useful and valuable forage fishes in the park. It abounds in the upper Columbia River system as Eigenmann (1895) reports it from Golden, B. C., Brown's Gulch, Silver Bow, and Flathead Lake, as well as in other localities in Montana. The author has collected it extensively in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana.

During the breeding season, which occurs in the spring and early summer, the sides of the males become scarlet red, while those of the females are slightly duller. Breeding adults have been observed in spawning colors on gravel riffles in June. These brilliant red colors cause many tourists to regard these minnows as young trout.

17. Rhinichthys cataractae dulcis (Girard). Long-nosed dace. Black-nosed dace.

Range: Upper Missouri, Platte, Arkansas, Rio Grande, and Colorado Rivers; Columbia River, Utah Basin, and coastal streams of Washington and Oregon. Common locally.

FIGURE 20.—Rhinichthys catarectae, long-nosed dace. After Jordan and Evermann.

The long-nosed dace was taken by the survey among the rubble of the beach in the breaking waves along the lower end of St. Mary Lake and in the outlet on the riffles. It was also taken in Swiftcurrent Creek above Sherburne Lake and in the Belly River. This species does not appear to be distributed extensively in the park, as it was not taken in the streams on the west side where it was also expected to occur. The long-nosed dace was reported from the Milk River as Rhinichthys maxillosus by Jordan (1878a), and from the Swiftcurrent River by Eigenmann (1894). Bajkov (1928) found it in the Hudson Bay drainage.

18. Couesius dissimilis (Girard). Lake chub. Minnow.

Range: Upper Missouri, Black Hills, and upper Saskatchewan River systems. Locally common.

FIGURE 21.—Couesius dissimilis, lake chub, from Moran's Bath Tub.

The range of the genus Couesius extends as far west as Lake Pend Oreille of the Columbia system, and in the headwaters of the Fraser River, the species there being C. greeni Jordan (1894). In Glacier National Park it was taken by the survey in Moran's Bath Tub and in Waterton Lake. The lake chub was not found on the west side of the park although the area was carefully studied. This species was first taken by Dr. Coues in 1874 in the Milk River (Jordan 1878a) and next by Eigenmann (1894) in the Swiftcurrent River.

The spawning habits of the lake chub have not been published although females with ripe eggs and males with small nuptial tubercles are found most of the summer.

19. Margariscus margarieta nachtriebi (Cox.) Northern dace.

Range: Maine, Great Lakes, westward to Montana. Locally common.

FIGURE 22.—Margariscus margarieta nachtriebi, northern dace, from Moran's Bath Tub.

The northern dace occurs in great abundance in Moran's Bath Tub where it was probably introduced accidentally through its use as bait. Specimens in breeding condition were taken in a small tributary of Two Medicine River below the Ranger Station just above Lower Two Medicine Lake. In Moran's Bath Tub Margariscus and Couesius appear to have hybridized to a limited extent. The spawning habits of this minnow were recently described by Langlois (1929).

Family 6. Esocidae. Pike. Pickerel

20. Esox lucius Linnaeus Pike. Pickerel.

Range: New York to Ohio, westward to Montana and northward to Alaska, also in Europe and Asia. Locally common.

FIGURE 23.—Esox lucius, pike, or pickerel. After Jordan and Evermann.

The pike was taken by the survey in Sherburne Lake where it is reported to attain a weight of 18 pounds. Numerous dead and decaying specimens were observed impaled on the large brush and tree jam at the irrigation dam near the outlet at the lower end of the lake. Esox lucius was taken by Dr. Coues in 1874 as reported by Jordan (1878a) from the Swiftcurrent River, where Eigenmann (1894) again reported it. The pike in Sherburne Lake feed mostly on whitefish (Coregonus clupeaformis). Our specimens, weighing from 4 to 6 pounds, were caught in the experimental gill net by their teeth as they tried to eat gilled whitefish.

Family 7. Gadidae. Cods. Ling

21. Lota lota maculosa (Le Sueur) Ling. Burbot.

Range: Rivers and lakes of northern United States, Great Lakes to the Columbia River basin and northward to Arctic Seas.

FIGURE 24.—Lota lota maculosa, ling or burbot. After Jordan and Evermann.

Eigenmann (1894a) was the first to record the ling in the vicinity of Glacier National Park when he reported that it occurred at Calgary, Alberta, Canada, in great numbers during the spring of the year. The survey obtained specimens from St. Mary Lake, St. Mary River, Lower St. Mary Lake, and Waterton Lake. The young, 3 to 6 inches long, were found abundant in the inlet to Waterton Lake. They were first observed at night by use of a gasoline lantern as they lay curled around stones of the stream bed. The next morning by stirring and moving large rubble along one margin of the stream bank, dozens of the young ling were seen and more than 50 captured. They leave the protection of loose stones and swim about in the river at night, but during the day not one could be seen on the stream bottom.

Family 8. Cottidae. Sculpins. Bullheads

22. Cottus punctulatus (Gill). Rocky Mountain bullhead.

Range: Headwaters of the Columbia, Missouri, and Green (Wyoming) Rivers in Montana, Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, northern New Mexico, and Colorado, also Jasper Park, Alberta, Canada. The records for Oregon and Washington probably are for other species. Locally common.

FIGURE 25.—Cottus punctulatus, Rocky Mountain bullhead. Sculpin. Blob. Muddler.

Cottus punctulatus is common in most of the trout streams of the Flathead and Missouri systems of the park. Bajkov (1927) records this species from Jasper Park, Alberta, but unfortunately he does not give standard. measurements of length, which make comparisons difficult. This bullhead inhabits the gravel riffles, hiding among the loose stones on the bottom or in deeper pools. The young and half grown are most abundant among the small rubble and gravel along the margin of a stream or along the shore of a lake exposed to wave action.

Sculpins of the genus Cottus spawn in the spring of the year; the female deposits her eggs on the under side of a stone, where they adhere in a small cluster. Hatching occurs in 1 or 2 weeks depending on the temperature of the water. The young fry seek shallow and quiet water where they feed and grow to a length of about an inch during the first year. Sculpins are used extensively for bait by trout fishermen in western United States since the trout take them eagerly. They may be considered as forage fish, although it is doubtful if this quality any more than compensates for their habit of eating small aquatic animals when these are plentiful and convenient.

Cottus punctulatus is a variable species, structurally, because the lateral line ends under the spinous or soft dorsal fins (most frequently under the middle third of the soft dorsal fin), and the anus varies in position from either in front or behind the middle of the body (standard length). The anal and dorsal rays are also variable. Most of the characters appear to be fairly constant for any particular lake or stream. If the investigator had but a few specimens and these from but one, two, or three localities he might be inclined to describe some of them as new subspecies. However, when all of the collections are taken as a whole, the variations overlap greatly, causing us to delay naming any additional subspecies until the problem is more thoroughly studied. Thus we conclude that the Cottus of this type should be referred to the species punctulatus, until the group is carefully reviewed.

23. Cottus ricei Nelson. Prickly bullhead. Prickly sculpin.

Range: Saskatchewan basin and the Great Lakes basin. Not common.

FIGURE 26.—Cottus ricei, prickly bullhead, from outlet of St. Mary Lake.

Cottus ricei is a species that has been rarely taken by naturalists and very few records of its occurrence are known. Eigenmann and Eigenmann in Cope (1892) described it as a new species, Cottus onychus, from the Bow River, at Calgary, Alberta, Dymond (1928) recorded it as Cottus ricei from Old Man River, tributary to the South Saskatchewan River from a specimen collected by R. T. Rodd. Hubbs (1926) was the first to synonymize ricei with onychus, with which opinion the author, agrees after making further comparisons.

The specimens collected by the survey were obtained from shallow water in the inlet to Waterton Lake, and in the outlet just as it leaves St. Mary Lake.

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Last Updated: 22-Feb-2008