Montana Fish : Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout

Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout - Montana Fly Fishing Species

Montana Native Fish : Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout

With their golden hues and ample spotting, Yellowstone cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii bouvieri) comprise one of two native subspecies in Montana's waters. Closely related to westslope cutthroat trout, Yellowstone cutthroat have more abundant and widely distributed spotting along their sides.

The historic range of these trout encompassed the rivers and streams of the Yellowstone basin in southwestern and south-central Montana. However, habitat loss and competition from non-native species have reduced remaining pure populations to fragmented headwaters and Yellowstone National Park.

Widely appreciated for their slow rise to a well-presented dry fly, Yellowstone Cutthroat are a marvel in the net. Montana fly fishing trips along the upper Yellowstone River in Paradise Valley with our Montana fishing guides offer the best opportunities to encounter these native trout.

To preserve the lineage, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks maintains a pure Yellowstone cutthroat broodstock at the Big Timber hatchery. These fish provide widespread stocking of high mountain lakes and Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness streams. Under optimal conditions, Yellowstone cutthroat can reach impressive sizes, with fish over 15 pounds recorded.

More piscivorous than their westslope relatives, Yellowstone cutthroat actively pursue other fish for prey. Continued conservation efforts for this iconic subspecies remain vital to preserving Montana's aquatic heritage.