Native Cutthroat of Utah

Recently a Facebook posting about the Wyoming Cutt-Slam program jolted loose some memories regarding the native fish of Utah.  The conversation went back and forth about the species that are considered Utah Natives.  Utah is home to a pretty diverse array of trout and many other sport fish as well.  In the trout sphere there are Rainbow, Brown, Brook, Tiger, Bonneville Cutthroats, Lahontan Cutthroats, Colorado River Cutthroat, Yellowstone Cutthroat and recently discovered Greenback Cutthroat.  

So which are native??  The State of Utah Wildlife folks say there are 3 native trout species.  They are the Bonneville Cutthroat, Yellowstone Cutthroat and the Colorado River Cutthroat.   All of these species are under pressure and all exist in only a fraction of their history habitat.  

The mighty Bonneville Cutthroat (Oncorhynchus Clarki Utah) that once roamed the historical Lake Bonneville was once thought to be extinct but through 50 years of conservation and restoration efforts, they exist in about 35% of their historical range.

The Yellowstone Cutthroat (Oncorhynchus Clarkii Bouvieri) probably doesn't come to mind when thinking of Utah Trout but they do exist in small numbers in the Raft River area of the North Slope range.

Colorado River Cutthroats (Oncorhynchus Clarkii Pleuriticus) are native to most of the Colorado river drainage.  In Utah they are found in the smaller streams of the Green river drainage, the San Juan drainage and the Dolores and Yampa river systems.

So what about the others?  Rainbow, Brown, Brook, and Tiger were imports or man-made creations.  We'll leave that for another day.

The Lahontan Cutthroat (Oncorhynchus Clarki Henshawi) are a Nevada native and are famous for the big fish caught from Pyramid Lake, Lake Tahoe and the Truckee River.  Pure strain Lahontan's were thought to be extinct for decades until some pure strain specimens were discovered in Utah's Pilot Mountain range.  

The Greenback Cutthroat was believed to be discovered in a small stream in the La Sal Mountains.  How they got across the continental divide is still a mystery and the genetic testing is ongoing but there are some signs to suggest that these fish are an isolated population of Greenbacks.

I suppose the point is that we have a large diversity of Trout and other fish to catch here in Utah and we should be proud of that. 

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