Mountain Whitefish

Scientific Name:

Prosopium williamsoni

Type:

Fish

Habitat:

Clear, cold, and deep mountain waters, including streams, rivers and lakes

Range:

Common in the western United States and Canada, including northern Nevada’s Truckee River and Lake Tahoe regions

Status:

No listed status

This species is

NATIVE

to the Truckee Meadows.

Identification:

Mountain whitefish are frequently considered relatives of the trout family but are not actually trout themselves. They appear a bronzed olive color dorsally with large, silver scales on their sides and belly. The mouth is downturned, which allows them to feed on the bottom of streams and water pools they inhabit. In smaller waters, like streams, mountain whitefish tend to be much smaller than their counterparts that live in larger waters, like lakes. They often shoal (travel together in groups) in the deep to feed on aquatic insects, only to rise to the shallows during dawn and dusk to feed on drifting invertebrates. Spawning season is typical late in the year, between October and December, when the fish will retreat to streams and lay their eggs.

Fast Facts:

  • Also known as the Rocky Mountain whitefish or “Mister White,” mountain whitefish are considered “trash fish” by some anglers who catch these whitefish when they are targeting trout. Just like trout, mountain whitefish will aggressively go after bait or a fly, making it easy for anglers to reel them in unintentionally.

  • Typically, the mountain whitefish is thought to feed on insects at the depths and surfaces of the water. However, they are actually a carnivorous fish known to eat smaller fish, too!

  • Conservation methods to prevent the further decline in this fish population include continuing to enforce catch limits and advocating against the placement of major dams. Dams can block access to spawning grounds and overall negatively impact habitat quality and long-term survival.

  • Mountain whitefish are currently not threatened, but their population in the Truckee Meadows is suspected to be dropping. Catch limits are in place.

Sources:

Contributor(s):

Taylor Gardner (research & content)

Alex Shahbazi (edits & page design)

Last Updated:

July 1, 2021, 6:21:28 PM