Cut-throat Trout

Piscifun fly fishing reels

Cutthroat Trout Salmo clarkii Richardson


The cut-throat trout, probably the parent form from which all others of the series have been derived, is found in all the coastwise streams and lakes from Northern California to British Columbia and possibly into southeastern Alaska. In the Columbia River basin it is found as far up the Snake River as Shoshone Falls and into the headwaters of the Pend d' Oreille. In the waters about Puget Sound it is very abundant, as it is, in fact, throughout most of its range.

It is known variously as cutthroat trout, black-spotted trout, Columbia River trout and by many other local names.

Cut-throat Trout Salmo clarkii

In the earlier books this species was identitied with the Mykiss of Kamchatka and was called Salmo mykiss or Salmo purpuratus. But recent investigations have shown that it is not identical with the Kamchatkan species, and that there is a wide region between Kamchatka and southeast Alaska in which no trout are found.

The cut-throat trout and all of this series spawn in the spring and early summer. Those in the streams seek the shallow waters of the smaller creeks while those of the lakes come to the shallow waters near shore or upon the bars; in many cases they ascend tributary streams.

The silver trout of Lake Tahoe and the yellow-finned trout of Twin Lakes probably spawn in deeper water.

The cut-throat trout and its different derived forms vary greatly in the sizes at which they reach maturity, the chief factors being, of course, the size of the body of water they inhabit and the amount of the food supply.

Those species or individuals, dwelling in lakes of considerable size where the water is of such temperature and depth as insure an ample food-supply, will reach a large size, while those in a restricted environment where both the water and food are limited, will be small directly in proportion to these environing restrictions. The trout of the Klamath Lakes, for example, reach a weight of at least 17 pounds) while in Fish Lake in Idaho mature trout do not exceed 8 to 9 1/4 inches in total length or one-fourth pound in weight. In small creeks in the Sawtooth Mountains and elsewhere they reach maturity at a length of 5 or 6 inches, and are often spoken of as brook trout under the impression that they are a species different from the larger ones found in the lakes and larger streams. But as all sorts of gradations between these extreme forms may be found in the intervening and connecting waters, the differences have not even subspecific significance.

From American Game and Food Fishes. Jordan and Evermann.