Fine-spotted Snake River cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii behnkei)

small silvery fish with black spots

Fine-spotted Snake River cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii behnkei)

One of the five native species of cutthroat trout to Wyoming, these feisty fish are a popular target for anglers in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE). Their native range is actually quite small, only consisting of the Upper Snake River between Jackson Lake and Palisades Reservoir, including the Gros Ventre River. These trout can be distinguished from the other subspecies primarily based on the spotting pattern.  They are close relatives of the infamous Yellowstone cutthroat trout, and they look very similar aside from a small color difference and the size and color of the spots.  They are not distinguishable genetically, and this has led to some debate about whether they are a separate subspecies or not! Snake River cutthroats can grow to over 20 inches and 3 pounds and are known for putting up a vicious fight. This combination of size and spirit makes them a prized sport fish, and they are often stocked outside their native range for the enjoyment of anglers.  Learn more about these spectacular salmonids here: https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.aspx?SpeciesID=892 and https://wgfd.wyo.gov/Fishing-and-Boating/Cutt-Slam#howto

Written by Timothy Uttenhove
PC: Bryant Olsen on Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/bryanto/4721942263/