Cutthroat Trout

The Cutthroat Trout is native to Montana and the Missoula area. One of the most beautiful trout in the world, the West Slope Cutthroat Trout is under intense pressure to maintain its purity of strain. The Cutthroat is a Spring spawner, and the reason why the fishing season doesn’t start until the third Saturday in May- it protects the cutthroat trout while spawning. Oddly, some of the degradation of the Montana river habitat, specifically tributaries that have been cut of from mainstem rivers, have helped to maintain the purity of the West Slope Cutthroat. The Cutthroat is a free rising trout, willing to come to the surface to check out almost everything that floats over. The Cutthroat is not a fast growing trout, so taking a Cutthroat over 16” long is a lunker Cutthroat. Their light coloring lets them find lies in the sunnier areas of the river, riffles, glides and pools. The Cutthroat is identified by its bright orange/red slash found directly below the gill plate, and any trout found with this slash is defined as a Cutthroat Trout. When you find Cutties rising to a hatch, you won’t believe we’ve said they are free rising trout! Just like all trout, when the hatch is on, they can be as fussy as a Brown trout. It’s not common to take a Cutthroat Trout on a streamer. Not that they won’t go big when the opportunity arises, but it’s not common to find a Cutthroat big enough to take a streamer. They are primarily insect eaters, and as such, are a fly fishers friend. Be aware of the regulations that surround the Cutthroat Trout, because it’s very rare to be able to harvest Cutthroat Trout in Western Montana.