BIG SKY ROD BUSTERS!!! by Montana Grant
By angelamontana

Posted: November 25, 2023

Fishermen flock to Montana for our wonderful fishing. Trout are the most popular but not always the biggest. Trout fishermen stretch many fish to 20 inches, which seems to be the benchmark for Big Sky’s Best size. 5 pounders often earn Big Sky bragging rights. 

Ironically, some of the most popular Montana fish are not the BIGGEST! Trout, perch, walleye, and Kokanee are in demand but are not always scale busters. Instead of beginning with 20-inch-long fish, let’s look at fish in Montana that weigh in at over 20 pounds!

Here are BIG SKY’S BIGGEST Rod Busters! (*non-native)

Bull Trout    37 in. 25.63 lbs. 1916

Brown Trout    37 in. 32.42 lbs. Marias River 2022*

Freshwater Drum    29.59 lbs. Fort Peck Res. 2003

Channel Catfish    41.75 in. 34.8 lbs. Fort Peck Res. 2013

Rainbow/Cutthroat Trout Hybrid    38.62 in. 33.1 lbs. Ashley Lake 1982*

Rainbow Trout    38.62 in. 33,1 lbs. Kootenai River 1997*

Chinook Salmon    39 in. 31.13 Lb. Fort Peck Res. 1991*

Northern Pike    37.5 lbs. Tongue River Res. 1972*

Small mouth Buffalo    38 in. 38 lbs. Nelson Res. 2007

Tiger Musky    50 in. 38.75 lbs. Deadman’s Basin 2012*

Carp    38 in. 40.24 Lbs. Nelson Res. 1998

Lake Trout    42.5 in. 42.69 lbs. Flathead Lake 2004*

Pallid Sturgeon    60 lbs. Yellowstone River

White Sturgeon    75 in. 96 lbs. 1968

“BIG” is in the eyes of the beholder. Big Sky Country has its big fish for great story telling under our Big Skies! The fish on this list were all caught using hook and line. 

Snagging is another form of fishing but is only legal with a few seasonal species. Paddlefish are filter feeders and do not feed or strike lures or bait. Instead, large treble hooks are used to snag and drag them in. The largest Paddlefish snagged and dragged in Montana was 77 in. and 142 lbs. It was snagged in the Missouri River in 1973. 

Size Matters!

Montana Grant

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