Disparate Pirates of the Rockies and Mountain West

Guest Blogger: Mike Cline, Bozeman, Montana

Rivaled only by the rainbow trout for the greatest number of distinct subspecies, the cutthroat trout of the American West provides the adventurous trout angler a unique challenge.  A challenge I must say that I’ve not yet tackled. But still with 14 recognized sub-species or strains, the cutthroat trout remains one of the great angling challenges in the American West.  I’ve been lucky enough to catch four of those subspecies but will likely never see them all. On the other hand, Cutthroat trout, Oncoryhnchus clarki make for great reading as well as angling.  Along with the rainbow trout, they are the “native” trout of the American West.  Surprisingly, the cutthroat trout was also the first North American trout described by Europeans.  In 1541, Spanish explorer Francisco de Coronado recorded seeing trout in the Pecos River near Santa Fe, New Mexico. These were most likely Rio Grande cutthroat trout (O. c. virginalis).  The Rio Grande cutthroat is the southern-most variety of cutthroat and has a stable but small foothold in the mountains around Santa Fe, New Mexico.  This is one I haven’t tried for yet.

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