Cutthroat Trout

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Game Fish Species of British Columbia

Cutthroat Trout
Cutthroat Trout

Salmo clarki or Cutthroat Trout, Coastal Cutthroat, Yellowstone Cutthroat, Red-Throated Trout, Clark's Trout, Lake Trout, Sea Trout, Short-Tailed Trout

There are two forms of this species, the coastal cutthroat trout and the westslope or Yellowstone cutthroat trout. It is difficult to separate the two forms so they are treated here together.

DESCRIPTION - The average length of cutthroat trout is 12-15 inches and generally one-half to 17 pounds. A short, conical head with a somewhat pointed to rounded snout and a rather large mouth with well developed teeth on both jaws characterize the fish. In breeding males the kype is slightly developed in the anadromous population and the lower jaw appears extremely long. One of the main color characteristics is two yellow or orange to red lines in the skin folds of each side of the lower jaw. The coastal cutthroat trout is colored dark to olive-green with numerous black spots and may appear more blue with silvery sides. The interior cutthroat trout (Yellowstone/Westslope cutthroat) has a body of yellow-green with red on the sides of the head and front of the body and the belly.

DISTRIBUTION -The cutthroat trout can be found in fresh, brackish or salt water in North America mostly west of the Rocky Mountains. The coastal and Yellowstone varieties are separated by a central area in which the rainbow trout occurs. The inland form lives in western Alberta in the headwaters of river systems.

BIOLOGY - Adult anadromous forms return to freshwater spawning streams in late autumn and early winter but spawning takes place there in February to May. In both forms of cutthroat trout spawning takes place in small, gravelly streams where the male courts the female by nudging and quivering. The female prepares the redd where she lays 1100-1700 eggs. Hatching occurs 6-7 weeks later.

RELATION TO MAN - This species is noted as an important sportfish as it is a hard fighter and can be large. The flesh is orange-red, rich and of excellent flavor when smoked, fried or baked.


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