Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout

by Judy Lehmberg, BioPics Photography, www.vernelehmberg.com

Male Cutthroat Trout
Male Cutthroat Trout

There are several species of trout in the United States but the only one that is native to Yellowstone is the Yellowstone cutthroat trout. All of the rainbow, brook and brown trout that live here have been introduced from California, the eastern U.S., and Germany respectively.

Many people don’t realize that when white people first came to Yellowstone around 40% of the lakes and streams were fishless. At the time that was considered a waste so many species of fish were introduced. That has, over the years, led to the decline of Yellowstone cutthroat trout because they either reproduce with other trout, primarily rainbow trout, or they are out competed by them. That is a real shame, not only because cutthroat are native and many animals, such as grizzly bears, otters, osprey, bald eagles, several species of ducks, and other animals, depend on them for food, but also because they are a beautiful fish. For years we spent at least a week each summer fishing for cutthroat in the upper Yellowstone River. We still “fish” for them but we do it with a camera, both above and below the water, instead of a fly rod.

Two Cutthroat Trout
Two Cutthroat Trout
Three Cutthroat Trout
Three Cutthroat Trout

One of the best places to see Yellowstone cutthroat right now is La Hardy Rapids. The cutthroat are leaving Yellowstone Lake and going into the Yellowstone River to spawn. As they return to the lake after spawning they have to negotiate the rapids. You can find them in the pockets below the rapids or, if you are patient and lucky, you can see them jumping up the rapids. You can also find them going up the inlet at Trout Lake in the northeast corner of the park. All of the pictures here were taken at Trout Lake, the top three where taken from above the water and the bottom one was taken underwater.

Male Cutthroat Trout
Male Cutthroat Trout

3 thoughts on “Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout

  1. 2 years ago we were in the right place at the right time as we approached the inlet of Trout Lake and saw the stunning sight of the Yellowstone cut throat trout headed up stream for spawning. Every inch of the inlet was lined with these magnificent creatures! Sometimes people will say don’t you tire of Yellowstone and my answer is never – each and every trip is a new and wonderful adventure. Thank you so much for reminding me of its amazing wonders. Your reporting is superb! I am looking forward to grand new adventures next week !

Comments are closed.