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Trout Species – Cutthroat Trout and Golden Trout
by: Brett Fogle
Cutthroat Trout: Cutthroat Trout are generally found only in high alpine lakes or in some selected areas of the Pacific Northwest.
The Cutthroat Trout is the original trout of the Rocky Mountains. Unlike Brown Trout which were originally introduced to the Eastern United States, Cutthroat Trout are originally from the Western half of the United States.
What separates the Cutthroat Trout from other trout is that Cutthroat Trout are found primarily in remote and pristine locations. Unlike their larger cousins, the rainbows and the browns, Cutthroat Trout tend to fare poorly in highly competitive environments – especially when predatory fish like Pike are introduced into their waters. As such, the range of the Cutthroat Trout has been driven back over the years.
While Cutthroat Trout are still found in good numbers in many of the rivers in Montana (such as the Yellowstone), the best Cutthroat Trout fishing will usually now be found deep in the backcountry - in isolated mountain lakes and streams. This requires lots of effort by the angler just to reach the Cutthroat Trout, because they are often found in very remote areas. Cutthroat Trout do not receive as much fly fishing pressure as their rainbow and Brown Trout cousins. As such, they are generally easier to catch and found in greater numbers. However, Cutthroat Trout do not get as large as rainbow or Brown Trout, and generally lack the aerial abilities that other trout display when hooked.
Cutthroat Trout can be easily identified by the two red slashes under and on the outside of its lower jaw. The sides of the Cutthroat Trout are brownish yellow and are highlighted with black spots. Other colorings of Cutthroat Trout can occur, but only as a result of crossbreeding between Rainbow Trout and Brown Trout, and are called cut-bow trout.
Golden Trout: Rare and elusive, the Golden Trout inhabit some of the most remote lakes in the United States.
The Golden Trout is one elusive species of trout. Golden Trout have very limited range, as they are only found in high alpine lakes and streams found in the Rocky Mountains and the Cascades. Because of this, reaching good Golden Trout waters is no easy task – usually requiring a long hike or horse pack in.
Additionally, due to the environment in which the Golden Trout live in (very cold, low nutrient water), Golden Trout are generally quite small, as there is just not enough food to support larger trout.
Despite the relatively low fishing pressure they receive, Golden Trout can be somewhat difficult to catch, as they tend to be fickle about what they eat. Moreover, not all high alpine lakes and rivers contain these trout – so simply locating waters that have good Golden Trout populations can be an effort in and of itself.
That said, since Golden Trout live in the most beautiful scenery in the United States, a day spent looking for or fishing for Golden Trout can never be wasted – even if you don't catch any. For an angler looking to catch trout in a splendid and scenic environment, chasing the Golden Trout is the way go.
It's hard to miss a Golden Trout, as their name conveys. These beautiful trout are golden in color, so are hard to mistake for other types of fish. The Golden Trout also has a scattering of black spots and a red striping along its lateral line, belly and gill plates.
Since Golden Trout are not very common, it is recommended that anglers who catch Golden Trout release them instead of eating them. If you're looking for a fish you can eat, go hook some Brook Trout instead. Brookies are usually found in the same waters as Golden Trout are, but are not nearly as rare. Most agree they taste better too!
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