Description and Range
The Lahontan cutthroat trout is one of three subspecies of cutthroat trout that occur in Washington. Unlike the two other subspecies, Westslope and coastal, Lahontan cutthroat trout are not native to Washington. They are native to the Great Basin of California, Oregon, and western Nevada, and the ancient Lake Lahontan during the ice ages, which is how they got their name. In addition, Lahontan cutthroat trout are the largest of the cutthroat subspecies. Like the other cutthroat, their mouth extents past the eye (in fish over four inches in length) and they have the characteristic red slash under the jaw and small teeth on the back of their tongue. They have dark olive backs with reddish to yellowish sides and medium to large dark spots distributed evenly about their body.Average 16-18 inches. Lahontan Trout can grow up to 5 to 10 lbs. in quality populations.
Where to fish
How to fish
Lahontan cutthroat trout are opportunistic feeders. They mainly prey on aquatic and terrestrial insects, but as they get bigger, they become piscivorous, preferring a fish diet. The best fishing for Lahontan cutthroat will be during the spring and fall. In the spring they will be swimming along the shoreline, close to the bottom as they look for an inlet stream to spawn in. Post-spawning, the Lahontan cutthroat trout will be move offshore and to a depth near the thermocline. They also prefer smooth, sandy bottoms near drop offs. As the water becomes warmer during the summer, the fish become lethargic and feeding activity decreases. As the water begins cooling down during the fall, the fish become more lively and feeding activity resumes. You will want to fish just above the thermocline but if you're not successful, try a little below the thermocline. Popular lures for Lahontan cutthroat trout fishing include Swimmertails, J-plugs, needlefish, bucktail flies, nymphs, woolly buggers, and chironomids.
Remember, when handling any fish you intend to release, wet your hands first so you don't take off the fish's protective slippery coating. Dry hands will remove the protective coating and make the fish vulnerable to bacterial or fungal infections, which can kill them.