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Cutthroat Trout

Cutthroat Trout
Scientific Name: 
Onchorhynchus clarki

Cutthroat trout are named for the bright red-orange streak in the fold under the jaw. Cutthroat are native to many mountain streams, lakes and rivers.

They are great indicators of water quality, since they prefer very clean, pristine waters. They have been introduced into many of the high mountain lakes. Cutthroat prefer colder water than do the closely related rainbow trout.

Fish Habits: 

Spawning takes place in the late spring in small tributary streams. The female digs a redd in the gravel with her tail. Cutthroat may spawn more than once and with different partners. Both the male and female are aggressive if other fish try to spawn too close to their redd. Once spawning has been completed, the female will use her body and tail to displace gravel upstream of her redd to cover it. They may spawn during the day or night. The eggs will hatch in about five weeks, early in the summer.

The small cutthroat trout may live in the stream where they were born, migrate to another stream, or migrate to a lake. In many rivers, cutthroat will migrate in the fall, over-winter, and move back to their summer home. You may find yourself angling for cutthroat during only one season in order to find cutthroat large enough to catch.

Like the rainbow, their size and age of sexual maturity varies. Cutthroat are usually three years old when they spawn for the first time.

Fishing Tactics: 

Cutthroat trout will feed on aquatic and terrestrial insects. They feed along the surface, but may take insects at any level in the water. Larger cutthroat may feed on smaller fish when available.

The cutthroat trout is one of the most popular sport fish in the state. They feed aggressively, rising freely to dry flies. Fine leaders and small fly patterns are useful, but not necessary, for successful fishing.

They also take nymphs, wet flies, bucktails, spinners, spoons, and natural bait such as worms or maggots.

Lightweight fly and spinning setups are ideal for most streams and lakes. Heavier tackle is handy for the bigger cutthroat found in the large rivers and lakes of southeastern Idaho.

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