GREAT FALLS — For the fifth time in less than a year, the Treasure State will add a new record fish to its books, according to Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks (FWP).
The latest fish is a longnose sucker from the Missouri River that was caught on March 26 by Jacob Bernhardt of Great Falls.
Weighing in at 3.42 pounds, the 20.1-inch sucker was landed by Bernhardt while he was fishing in Cascade County.
FWP says that Bernhardt’s catch broke the previous longnose sucker record of 3.27 pounds, set in 1988 with a fish caught by Ray Quigley in the Marias River near Loma.
Other recent state record-setting fish include a chinook salmon caught in August, a smallmouth bass in October, a yellow bullhead in December, and a brown trout in February.
The sucker family is the third-largest family of fish species in Montana with nine species, behind only the minnow and salmonid (trout) families.
Longnose suckers are native to the state and widely distributed across nearly all of central and western Montana.
With a total of 91 native and introduced fish species found in Montana, interest in fish records has increased in recent years.
If you catch a fish in Montana that you think might be a record, FWP says:
- To prevent loss of weight, do not clean or freeze the fish.
- Keep the fish cool—preferably on ice.
- Take a picture of the fish.
- Weigh the fish on a certified scale (found in grocery store or hardware store, etc.), witnessed by a store employee or other observer. Obtain a weight receipt and an affidavit from the store personnel if no FWP official is present. Measure the length and girth.
- Contact the nearest FWP office to have the fish positively identified by a Fisheries Biologist or Manager.
The Montana Field Guide says of longnose suckers: "The sucker with the greatest statewide distribution is the longnose sucker. It is found in all three of our major drainages and from mountainous streams to plains reservoir habitats. Longnose suckers are most abundant in clear, cold streams. In the springtime, spawning migrations into small tributaries are common and males develop bright red colors on their bodies. Longnose suckers are one of the most frequently caught fish by Montana anglers."