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Non-Trout Species

Fly anglers don’t just love to target trout! On this page we’ll give in-depth detail about some non-trout species that are commonly targeted by anglers, both in Montana and elsewhere! We’ll talk about the Rocky Mountain Whitefish, a cold water-dwelling salmonid that lives alongside trout in Montana’s rivers, the bonefish, an angler-favorite saltwater species to target on the fly, and the goliath billfish (Marlin and Sailfish are billfish) that Ernest Hemingway famously targeted in the middle of the 20th century. Keep reading to learn about the habitat, average size, spawning habitats and other facts about these three species!

Whitefish, Bonefish and Billfish

Although they all share two-syllable names ending in “fish,” these three non-trout species of fish that anglers love to target have few commonalities between them. The Rocky Mountain Whitefish lives thousands of miles from both the Bonefish and the Billfish, who inhabit the warm waters off the coast of Florida and Central America. The whitefish is the only species on this page that is native to Montana, and lives in large numbers in many of Montana’s large trout streams. Most trout anglers will have an experience catching a whitefish, as their feeding patterns are similar to trout; in fact, Rocky Mountain Whitefish are salmonids, just like Montana’s famed trout populations! If you’re trout fishing and hook into a trout-sized fish while drifting nymphs near the bottom, and you pull in a trout-shaped silvery fish with yellow-based fins, you’ve caught a Rocky Mountain White Fish! Although not as attractive as their trout neighbors, whitefish are native to Montana and can be very exciting to catch on a fly rod.

Anglers from the Mountain Time Zone will likely be less familiar with the bone and billfish, although word of their strength and the exhilaration of fishing for them has reached many anglers. Just as Ernest Hemingway wrote about in his 1952 novel The Old Man and the Sea, billfish like Marlin are among the hardest fighting fish in the world. Once hooked, Marlin can take hours to land, making the pursuit of them a truly once-in-a-lifetime endeavor.

For fly anglers that enjoy saltwater, the bonefish is among the most coveted species to target on the fly. Bonefish live in the shallow ocean waters off the coast of the Gulf of Mexico (with some subspecies also living in the Pacific Ocean), and move into shallow flats to feed. For this reason, anglers can target bonefish near the shore, and can wade or fish from a small drift boat. Bonefish are an intelligent species, and take stealth and precision to trick into eating a fly; when they are hooked, though, bonefish are tenacious fighters, providing the angling experience of a lifetime. Keep reading this article to learn more about these three fascinating species of fish. Anglers can find whitefish in many local Rocky Mountain waters, and if they plan a trip down south, can experience the fishing adventure of a lifetime by hooking into either a bonefish or a billfish.