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