Subspecies of Cutthroat

Subspecies: A population of a species occupying a particular geographic area, or less commonly, a distinct habitat, capable of interbreeding with other populations of the same species.

 

Cutthroat Trout Found in the West

Colorado River cutthroat trout display spotting over tail.

Cutthroat trout are usually recognized by numerous black body spots and yellow to red slashes of pigment under each side of the lower jar (See the photogragh above and below for the signature red slash).

Identifying Subspecies of Cutthroat

Lahontan Cutthroat trout shows black spots above lateral line

Lahontan cutthroat tend to be dark olive to reddish yellow and the spots are larger and fewer - as evident in the photo above. Pauite cutthroat trout have coppery, greenish, or yellowish bodies. Cutthroat trout in general have larger mouths and more slender bodies than rainbow trout.

Native Cutthroat trout display a red slash under lower jaw

Life History

Stream resident cutthroat trout may live their entire life in less than 20 meters of stream. River resident cutthroat, however, move with flows and availability of food. In lakes, cutthroat trout roam over a wide range and will travel extensive distance to spawn in upstream tributaries. Cutthroat trout in Pyramid Lake traveled 160 km upstream via the Truckee River into Lake Tahoe to ultimately spawn in tributaries to the lake as well as the Truckee River.

Yellowstone Cutthroat trout signature slash under lower jaw

Similar to other trout, stream resident cutthroat trout feed primarily on the drift - consuming a mix of terrestrial and aquatic insects. Cutthroat trout are opportunistic feeders, so whatever happens to be most abundant in the drift will be the most abundant in their bellies. Lake dwelling cutthroat trout feed on insects taken at the water's surface or zooplankton. However, if neither is available cutthroat trout will feed on insect larvae, crustaceans, and snails off the bottom.

Cutthroat Trout - California Range Map

Cutthroat trout California Range Map

Range Map Provided by the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Conservation Biology at UC Davis

Photo of California Golden Trout by P. Michael Carl © The Ecological Angler