There are more than 90 species of fish in Montana, and it can be hard to keep them all straight.

Soon, there will be an app for that.

“Fishes of Montana,” a free app that will help people identify different fish species, will launch this June. It will include fish that live in the state and some that don’t that state officials don’t want here.

The app was developed by High Country Apps in collaboration with scientists at Montana State University and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. The scientists behind it hope it will help people get to know the state’s piscine inhabitants better.

“I think it’s going to be a wonderful tool for a diverse group of people ranging from anglers to students to anybody interested in learning about the diverse fish species that we have in Montana,” said David Schmetterling, an FWP biologist.

FWP publicized the app with a video released this week. It will include photos, detailed descriptions and distribution maps for the fish species included.

The idea behind the app began with a need for an update to a book of the same name. First published decades ago, the book is a guide to the state’s various fish species. Biologists felt it was time to update it — things have changed, like species names and distributions and so forth.

Chris Guy, a professor at MSU, said the thinking soon turned toward making an app instead. Digitizing the guide in a mobile-friendly form would make the information more available to the public and easier to update when something in fish science changes.

Over the past year, Guy worked with FWP and the app developers on the program.

It will have a list of at least 91 species that live in Montana — including trout, walleye, sturgeon and more. Guy said it also includes about 10 species that haven’t yet arrived in Montana — like snakeheads — that biologists hope don’t arrive here. The idea is that a person who catches an invasive species can tell the state what they found and then the state can do something about it.

“We’re trying to have this app also be used as a tool to prevent any more invasive species,” Guy said.

Michael Wright can be reached at or at 406-582-2638. Follow him on Twitter @mj_wright1.

Michael Wright covers the environment and wildlife issues for the Chronicle.

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