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Fish: Yellowstone Cutthroat

"Wild" Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout population in CO...

Post By: River_FlyFisher      Posted: 7/28/2015 8:59:37 PM     Points: 1490    
Caught this fish a couple weeks ago on a public water in CO (stream). DOW biologist has confirmed a "robust" population of naturally reproducing Yellowstone Cutthroat in the area. Sharing here because I thought it was pretty darned cool, as I didn't think that a naturally-reproducing population of this species existed in any CO stream. Couldn't get a good photo for ID in the net, so I quickly laid it in some grass to get a better angle, which made the ID a snap. Beautiful fish!!!

Sorry, but I'm not giving up the spot though. *wink*
 Reply by: brookieflyfisher      Posted: 7/28/2015 9:22:23 PM     Points: 6146    
Successfully reproducing yellowstones in this state is one of the reasons why our native cutthroat species are threatened. Hybridization with other cutthroat species (and rainbows) muddles the genetics and eventually leads to the extinction of the species.

Ironically, yellowstone cutthroat face the same issue from rainbows in their home rivers like the South Fork of the Snake.

Awfully pretty fish!
 Reply by: River_FlyFisher      Posted: 7/28/2015 9:31:50 PM     Points: 1490    
Good points, though I do not know of any other area where that currently exists (not that there aren't any). It was definitely more of a problem in the past. I'd love to see more Greenbacks around. I think that the biggest threat (currently) to our native Cutts is the proliferation of Brown Trout.
 Reply by: ColoradoOutdoorsman      Posted: 7/29/2015 3:14:21 AM     Points: 1931    
I'd personally like to hear why you think browns are dropping damage to native cutties. I've just heard of non native cutties and rainbows damaging the species because if hybridization like BFF broght up. I'm curious
 Reply by: Flyrodn      Posted: 7/29/2015 7:49:54 AM     Points: 183781    
Agreed hybridization is the greatest threat. While brooks and browns can out compete in some environments, the species don't intermingle.
 Reply by: yard dogs      Posted: 7/29/2015 9:32:36 AM     Points: 653    
Very pretty fish man!
 Reply by: River_FlyFisher      Posted: 7/29/2015 4:30:12 PM     Points: 1490    
ColoradoOutdoorsman, I think you misunderstood what I said.

Brown Trout do EXTREMELY well here in CO. They compete for the same food as other Trout, and as they are a much more aggressive/dominant fish, they tend to eventually beat out all other Trout in a given area. This is one reason why they're so infrequently stocked by DOW. They naturally reproduce VERY well here.

I agree that hybridization and dilution of the pure strains was the biggest problem in the past when so much less was understood about this, but I think we're well beyond that now. From personal observation in my ~25 years of flyfishing to CO Rockies, I think that the Brown Trout pushing native fish out of their natural range is now a FAR more serious issue. I have no hard evidence (empirical data) to back this hypothesis, just many years of personal observation (anecdotal data) in places I've fished.

Also, in my opinion, DOW should be stocking a LOT more CO River and Greenback Cutts instead of all the Rainbow Trout...
 Reply by: Cutthroat_23      Posted: 7/29/2015 5:11:53 PM     Points: 65    
Yes! River the Dow needs to get a new game plan with the trout stocking. The rainbows arnt even native and the history behind the subspecies of cutthroats far surpass darn bow bows. My old man used to tell me of the snake river cuts he would catch in spinney and other lakes of the nature and now it's nothing but cuttbows that I see and hear come out of those waters. It's a sticky conversation to have but I would rather see more cutts then bows
 Reply by: ColoradoOutdoorsman      Posted: 7/29/2015 5:38:56 PM     Points: 1931    
Okay I get what you are saying now RFF and I agree that the CPW needs to put more effort in stocking native species.
 Reply by: brookieflyfisher      Posted: 7/31/2015 10:01:57 PM     Points: 6146    
You guys are pretty much right on the money. Competition, habitat degradation, climate change, and hybridization are the major hurdles native trout are facing in the west. Read TU's "state of the trout".. [log in for link]

We have a long, long way to go.

Stocking greenbacks/colorado river cutts willy-nilly isn't the answer. 1) They're prohibitively expensive to produce, and 2) they'll hybridize with any other cutthroat/rainbows already in the system. So if you stocked a bunch of greenbacks into Georgetown, for example, it would be a massive lost investment. They would just cross with the rainbows already there or get eaten by the browns.

Add to that the fact that many systems are riddled with WD (which limits cutthroat breeding) and you're limited to a pretty small area where you can stock and maintain cutthroat populations.

My ultimate native trout dream is if they killed out everything from georgetown dam upstream and loaded it with native cutthroat. Georgetown is actually pretty fertile and would grow good-sized fish. The river above the reservoir is great spawning and rearing habitat. I don't know what WD density is in that area, but screw it, I'm dreaming.