Snake River Finespotted Cutthroat

Snake River finespotted Cutthroat signature red slash

The Snake River finespotted cutthroat (SRFCT) is one of two cutthroat trout subspecies native to the upper Snake River in Wyoming and Idaho. The SRFCT are thought to have evolved from the Yellowstone cutthroat. Despite differences in spotting pattern, both subspecies occur in the Snake River drainage and may occasionally hybridize.

Snake River finespotted Cutthroat

The SRFCT displays the smallest spotting of any western cutthroat especially near the tail. This spotting is much smaller the the closely related Yellowstone cutthroat. Purplish tints are more commonly found in Snake River cutthroat , and the pectoral, pelvic, and anal fins of SRFCT display a much more vibrant red or orange color as seen in the photograph below.

Snake River finespotted Cutthroat signature spotting on tail

Historic Distribution

The SRFCT occurs from Jackson Lake and the Gros Ventre River drainage southward in the Snake River system to the South Fork of the Snake downstream of Palisades Reservoir. Within the Bighorn River system, the distribution of SRFCT is more patchy with apparent extirpations in many tributaries and mainstem of the Wind River. Compared to other subspecies of cutthroat trout, the conservation status of the SRFCT is very good. Of all the intermountain cutthroat subspecies, only the SRFCT continues to dominate their native range in the face of introduced salmonids.

SRFCT had proven well adapted and seem to be the most resilient of any cutthroat in the Mountain West. They have also generally avoided hybridization with nonnative rainbows. According to Robert Behnke, "The Snake River finespotted cutthroat is the only subspecies of cutthroat trout that still completely dominates its native range."