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Bonneville Cutthroat Trout

Oncorhynchus clarkii utah

Fast Facts

  • This species is descended from cutthroat trout that inhabited Lake Bonneville approximately 30,000 years ago.
  • It is called “Ainkai Painkwi” or “Red Fish” by the Goshute tribe, and is considered sacred to them.
  • The Bonneville Cutthroat Trout is Utah’s state fish.

range

Range

Bonneville Basin in Utah, and surrounding states

Habitat

Streams and lakes with cool, clear water and rocky bottoms

Size

18 inches

Nutrition

Smaller fish, crustaceans, and insects


Characteristics


Cutthroat trout have a distinctive, reddish cut mark on their lower jaw beneath their gill coverings. They may look similar to Rainbow trout but are distinguished by having teeth at the base of their tongue and between their gill arches (otherwise known as basibranchial teeth). Bonneville cutthroat trout specifically are less vividly colored than other cutthroat trout subspecies, ranging from greenish-yellow to silvery-gray in color. Their spots are also larger and more evenly spaced than in other cutthroats. Some Bear Lake specimens have measured 24 inches and 18 pounds.

Behavior


Bonneville Cutthroat Trout are visual predators, detecting prey by sight and movement. Their sense of smell also helps them find prey. Juveniles will feed mainly on aquatic insects and crustaceans until they are big enough to eat smaller fish. Since they are opportunistic feeders and less cautious than other trout, they can easily be baited by fly fishermen. These fish are solitary.

Reproduction


Males typically reach sexual maturity after 2 years, and females at 3. Spawning occurs from spring to early summer. A male will court a female by quivering his body and nudging her with his nose. Females will dig a nest in the gravel called a redd, where she deposits her eggs. The male swims over the eggs to fertilize them, after which the female will cover the redd and defend it for a short time. Once she leaves the redd, the eggs will hatch and receive no parental care afterwards.

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