Fish Species of the Yellowstone Area

There are many different species of fish you can find throughout the greater Yellowstone area. All of these fish species can be found inside Yellowstone park in abundance.

Learn how to identify each species below

Brook Trout

Brook trout found in Eastern portion of Yellowstone parkThe brook trout can be found in several Yellowstone streams and rivers. They require cold clean water which the park provides plenty of. These fish are native to the Eastern US, but have taken up a niche spot cold in high mountain streams.

Brook Trout ID

This species is known for it’s bright colors. They are particularly colorful in the fall during their breeding season. They often have orange bellies and bright pink spots as shown in the image. Brook trout also have worm shaped markings on the back and sides of the fish. They are close relatives to the lake trout.

Learn more about the brook trout here

Brown Trout

A brown trout caught in the Madison river in YellowstoneThis species is also found in many areas of Yellowstone. They are abundant in the Madison river near the West entrance to the park and can be found in many other rivers.

Brown Trout ID

Browns typically have red and black spots and a yellowish to orange belly. They are more aggressive than most other trout species and have been known to be difficult to catch.

Learn more about the brown trout here

Cutthroat Trout

Yellowstone cutthroat troutCutthroat are the only native trout to the Yellowstone area. These fish are quite abundant in most rivers in the park and are usually fairly easy to catch with the right gear. Yellowstone lake has a lot of this species, but they are currently in trouble because of the larger lake trout eating their offspring.

Cutthroat ID

These fish are golden colored throughout and have varying sizes of black spots across most of their bodies. They can easily be identified by the red, orange or pink coloration under their gills which gives them their name.

Learn more about the cutthroat here

Lake Trout

A particularly colorful Lake Yellowstone lake trout.

Lake trout image courtesy of FWS.gov

Lake trout in the park are mainly found in Yellowstone lake. They spend a lot of time in deep water, but will often come to the shoreline areas to feed. If you catch a lake trout in Yellowstone you are required to kill it. They are currently overpopulated in the lake and are in direct competition with the native cutthroat trout.

Lake Trout ID

These trout are silver colored with usually faint white spots. They can grow very large (over 30 pounds is quite common). They can easily be identified by their forked tail. If you catch a silver colored fish in Yellowstone lake, it is more likely than not a lake trout.

Learn more about the lake trout here

 The Mountain Whitefish

Mountain whitefishThis species can be found in rivers throughout Yellowstone.They feed mainly on aquatic insects and are close relatives to the Arctic Grayling.The whitefish is a native species to this area. Don’t confuse these fish with the lake whitefish, which is a totally different species not found in this area.

Mountain Whitefish ID

They have a silvery to gold appearance and can easily be identified by their “suckerish” small mouth. They also have much larger sized scales than any other member of the trout family.

Learn more about the mountain whitefish here

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