Oncorhynchus clarkii
Oncorhynchus clarkii
(Cutthroat Trout)
Native Transplant
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Oncorhynchus clarkii (Richardson, 1836)

Common name: Cutthroat Trout

Synonyms and Other Names: Salmo clarki

Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govITIS logo

Identification: Scott and Crossman (1973); Moyle (1976a); Morrow (1980); Sublette et al. (1990); Page and Burr (1991); Behnke (1992). Behnke (1992) recognized 14 subspecies and provided information on each one. This species was formerly known as Salmo clarki.

Size: 99 cm.

Native Range: Pacific Coast drainages from Prince William Sound, Alaska, to Eel River, northern California. Freshwater populations range through Rocky Mountains to Hudson Bay, Mississippi River, Great (including Lahontan, Bonneville, and Alvord basins), and Pacific basins from southern Alberta to Rio Grande drainage, New Mexico (Page and Burr 1991).

US auto-generated map Legend USGS Logo
Alaska auto-generated map
Hawaii auto-generated map
Caribbean auto-generated map
Puerto Rico &
Virgin Islands
Guam auto-generated map
Guam Saipan
Interactive maps: Point Distribution Maps

Nonindigenous Occurrences: Cutthroat Trout have been stocked in the White River below Bull Shoals Dam and in the North Fork River below Norfork Dam in Arkansas (Robison and Buchanan 1988; Carter, personal communication); Lake Mead and cold water streams, Arizona (Miller and Lowe 1967; Minckley 1973; Rinne 1995; Tilmant 1999); the San Joaquin, Surprise Valley, Death Valley, Mono, and Owens lake drainages in California (Moyle 1976a; Dill and Cordone 1997); the South Platte, Arkansas, Rio Grande headwaters, Colorado headwaters, Gunnison, Green, Yampa, White and San Juan drainages in Colorado (Ellis 1974; Tyus et al. 1982; Wiltzius 1985; Zuckerman and Behnke 1986; Walker 1993; Behnke and Benson 1980); the Connecticut and Housatonic drainages in Connecticut (Whitworth 1996); the Snake River above and below Shoshone Falls, and independent drainages in Idaho (Simpson and Wallace 1978; Idaho Fish and Game 1990, 1997); non-specific areas in Kansas (Cross 1967); North Branch Potomac River, and Murleys Branch Run a spring tributary to Town Creek in Allegany Co., Maryland (R. M. Davis, personal communication); south branch of the Pere Marquette River and Lake Huron in Michigan (Hubbs and Lagler 1947, 1964; Becker 1983; Emery 1985; Cudmore-Vokey and Crossman 2000); non-specific areas in Minnesota (La Rivers 1962; Eddy and Underhill 1974); established in Van Lake in the Swan Valley and South Fork Flathead River, Montana (Marotz 2004; Dunham 2004); Pine, White Clay, and Larrabee creeks in Sheridan County, White River in Sioux County, and Beaver, Chadron, Dead Horse, Indian, Bordeaux, Little Bordeaux, and Big Bordeaux creeks in Dawes County, Nebraska (Morris et al. 1974) and collected from the Salt, Lower North Platte, Lower South Platte, Lower Middle Loup drainages (Nebraska Game and Park Commission; the White River (Colorado basin), many areas in the Great Basin, and the Guano system (Oregon drainage) and Pyramid Lake, Lake Mohave, Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge, and widely distributed throughout Nevada (Miller and Alcorn 1946; La Rivers 1962; Bradley and Deacon 1967; Deacon and Williams 1984; Miller et al. 1991; Insider Viewpoint 200l; Tilmant 1999; Vinyard 2001; USFWS 2005); the Cooper River in the lower Delaware drainage in New Jersey (Fowler 1952; Stiles 1978); the Canadian, Pecos, Rio Grande, San Juan, and Tularosa Valley drainages in New Mexico (Koster 1957; Tyus et al. 1982; Sublette et al. 1990); non-specific areas in North Dakota (North Dakota Game and Fish Department 1994, 1997); the John Day River in Grant County, and other locations in Oregon (Bond 1973); non-specific areas in South Dakota (North Dakota Game and Fish Department 1994; Hanten, personal communication); Dale Hollow and Center Hill reservoirs, and Wilbur tailwaters on the Tennessee River in Tennessee (Etnier and Starnes 1993); the Green and Strawberry rivers and Dinosaur National Monument in Utah (Sigler and Miller 1963; Tyus et al. 1982; Sigler and Sigler 1996; Tilmant 1999); non-specific areas in Vermont (Cox, personal communication); the upper New drainage in Virginia (Jenkins and Burkhead 1994); western Washington (Schultz and DeLacy 1935) and established virtually statewide in Washington (Chapman 1942); non-specific areas in West Virginia (D. Cincotta, personal communication); a lake in Washington County, Wisconsin (Becker 1983); and the Laramie system in the North Platte, and Flaming Gorge Reservoir on the Green River in Wyoming (La Rivers 1962; Baxter and Simon 1970; Tyus et al. 1982; Gorges 1994; Hubert 1994).

Means of Introduction: Many introductions resulted from authorized stocking for sportfishing. Escaped from a fish hatchery in Virginia. Fine-spotted Snake River cutthroat from Wyoming were stocked in Arkansas in 1984 (Robison and Buchanan 1988). Yellowstone, Lahantan and perhaps other subspecies have been stocked in Arizona (Minckley 1973). Paiute (Moyle 1976a), Yellowstone (Dill and Cordone 1997), and probably coastal and Lahontan cutthroat have been transplanted outside their native ranges in California. The state of Colorado planted Yellowstone cutthroats exclusively until sometime after 1974 (Beckman 1974). Since then, Snake River cutthroats have also been stocked in the state (Walker 1993). Both species have been stocked in the same drainages (Walker 1993). Greenback, Colorado River, and Rio Grande cutthroat are native to the state (Walker 1993). Yellowfin cutthroat, formerly native to Twin Lakes, Colorado, is now extinct (Walker 1993). Stocked numerous times since the late 1800s in Connecticut (Whitworth 1996). Lahontan, Bear Lake (Idaho Fish and Game 1997), and perhaps westslope cutthroats (Simpson and Wallace 1978) have been introduced into nonnative areas of Idaho. The Yellowstone subspecies was introduced into Michigan (Hubbs and Lagler 1947). Westslope (Eddy and Underhill 1974) and Lahontan cutthroat (La Rivers 1962) were introduced into Minnesota. Bonneville, and Lahontan (La Rivers 1962), Yellowstone, greenback (Deacon and Williams 1984), Rio Grande, fine-spotted Snake River, and Yellowstone (Sublette et al. 1990) cutthroat subspecies have all been introduced in nonnative areas of Nevada. Yellowstone cutthroat were introduced in Oregon (Bond 1973) and Washington (Schultz and DeLacy 1935). Lahontan cutthroat were recently introduced into Washington (Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife 1997). Westslope (Sigler and Miller 1963), greenback (Tyus et al. 1982), and Yellowstone (Sigler and Sigler 1996) cutthroat were introduced to nonnative areas in Utah. The Lahontan (La Rivers 1962) and Colorado River (Gorges 1994) cutthroat were introduced in Wyoming. Unknown subspecies were stocked in Connecticut, Nebraska, New Jersey, Tennessee, and Wisconsin. Miller et al. (1991) recounted a story of an early trout introduction told to Carl Hubbs by a Nevada pioneer George Schmidtlein. In 1873, George gathered together family and neighbors, including a native American, to transfer Cutthroat Trout O. clarki henshawi from the Reese River system to his pond in Big Smoky Valley. The group, with the use of a hired mule train, spent more than four days transporting the fish live in vinegar kegs over several mountain summits. These fish, or their progeny, eventually spread to many of the area streams. In Maryland scaped juveniles were found in a creek downstream from a fish hatchery (D. Neely, personal communication; Frostburg State University museum).

Status: Established in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, and Utah. Most stocking attempts in other states failed (e.g., Tennessee, Connecticut, Minnesota) or populations replenished with repeated stockings. Established for a time in Michigan, then died out (Hubbs and Lagler 1947, 1964; Becker 1983).

Impact of Introduction: Indiscriminate stocking has obscured recognition of many subspecies (Page and Burr 1991; Behnke 1992). Yellowstone cutthroat O. c. lewisi have hybridized extensively with Lahontan cutthroat O. c. henshawi in California (McAffee 1966). Cutthroat Trout also hybridize with rainbow trout in situations where one or both species have been introduced (Behnke 1992).

Remarks: Interior (noncoastal) cutthroat (all subspecies except O. clarki clarki) have declined dramatically since the 19th century. Brown trout Salmo trutta have commonly replaced Cutthroat Trout in large rivers (Behnke 1992). Introduced brook trout Salvelinus fontinalis quickly replaced greenback Cutthroat Trout in the Arkansas and South Platte drainages (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 1995). Recovery plans have been written for greenback Cutthroat Trout O. c. stomias (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 1977a, 1995), Paiute Cutthroat Trout O. c. selenis (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 1985a), and Lahontan Cutthroat Trout O. c. henshawi (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 1994d). Paiute Cutthroat Trout have hybridized with introduced rainbow trout and Lahontan Cutthroat Trout, resulting in a loss of distinctiveness of this subspecies in many areas (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 1985a). However, some pure populations do still exist (Behnke, personal communication). The Paiute, greenback, and Lahontan subspecies of cutthroat are listed as federally threatened species (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 1993a). Prior to the elimination of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service candidate species list, the Snake River fine-spotted, Willow or Whitehorse, westslope, Colorado River, and Bonneville subspecies were under review for Federal listing as an endangered or threatened taxa (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 1994a). Since 1963, 24 introductions of Lahontan cutthroat were made outside of its native range; 14 of these have established populations (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 1994d). Lahontan cutthroats are now established outside their native range in eleven locations in Nevada, nine in Oregon, four in Utah, and nine in California (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 1994d).

References: (click for full references)

Behnke, R.J. 1992. Native trout of western North America. American Fisheries Society Monograph 6. American Fisheries Society, Bethesda, MD.

Bradley, W. G. and J. E. Deacon. 1967. The biotic communities of southern Nevada. Nevada State Museum Anthropological Papers No. 13, Part 4. 201-273.

Cudmore-Vokey, B. and E.J. Crossman. 2000. Checklists of the fish fauna of the Laurentian Great Lakes and their connecting channels. Can. MS Rpt. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 2500: v + 39p.

Insider Viewpoint. 2001. Fishing Records – Nevada. Insider Viewpoint Magazine. 3 pp.

McAffee, W.R. 1966. Lahontan cutthroat trout. Pages 225-231 in Calhoun, A, ed. Inland fisheries management. California Department of Fish and Game. Sacramento, CA.

Miller, R.R. and C.H. Lowe. 1967. Part 2. Fishes of Arizona, p 133-151, In: C.H. Lowe, ed. The Vertebrates of Arizona. University of Arizona Press. Tucson.

Neely, D. - University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL.

Page, L.M. and B.M. Burr. 1991. A Field Guide to Freshwater Fishes - North America North of Mexico. Volume 42. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, MA.

Tilmant, J.T. 1999. Management of nonindigenous aquatic fish in the U.S. National Park System. National Park Service. 50 pp.

Other Resources:
FishBase Fact Sheet

Author: Pam Fuller

Revision Date: 8/18/2009

Citation Information:
Pam Fuller. 2017. Oncorhynchus clarkii. USGS Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL.
https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/factsheet.aspx?SpeciesID=890 Revision Date: 8/18/2009

This information is preliminary or provisional and is subject to revision. It is being provided to meet the need for timely best science. The information has not received final approval by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and is provided on the condition that neither the USGS nor the U.S. Government shall be held liable for any damages resulting from the authorized or unauthorized use of the information.

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Citation information: U.S. Geological Survey. [2017]. Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida. Accessed [1/22/2017].

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