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Q:

Where do the fish spawn?

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All three species -- paddlefish, shovelnose sturgeon and blue suckers -- spawn in the mainstems of the Yellowstone and Missouri rivers, and a few of those rivers' larger tributaries. We see far more fish spawning in the Yellowstone River because of its warmer water temperature and higher spring flows. These high flows seem to "cue" these species to run upriver to spawn. Fort Peck Dam has smoothed the Missouri's flow, so it rarely has high flows in the spring. It appears that many of the fish living in the Missouri often migrate downstream and then up the Yellowstone to spawn, or use the Milk River. The Milk River flows into the Missouri about nine miles below Fort Peck Peck Dam, and is quite turbid (muddy) and warm when running high. These three species prefer warm, turbid river flows. -- Biologist Dave. What rivers do specific fish species travel in? We find similar species in both the Yellowstone and Missouri rivers, but the number of individuals we see of any one species is ... more
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