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Get to Know the Cutthroat Trout

02/24/2021  /  Mark Rembacz - Fly Fishing Instructor  /  POSTED IN outdoors 
A Wyoming map of areas the cutthroat trout live.
Cutthroat trout and where to find them on a map of Wyoming

Fly fishing is one of the best ways to enjoy the outdoors in Wyoming, which is home to one native species that is a thrill to pursue: The cutthroat trout. Despite the wide variety of trout found in the state’s waters, the oncorhynchus clarki is the only species that can claim to be indigenous. 

The cutthroat gets its common name from the red lines on the underside of its jaw, and takes part of its scientific name, clarki, from William Clark. Explorers Meriwether Lewis and Clark provided one of the earliest descriptions of the fish during their 1803-06 expedition. Four subspecies of the cutthroat can be found in Wyoming, in the Snake River, the Colorado River, the Bonneville and the Yellowstone.

Each subspecies inhabits specific locations in the state and has visually unique characteristics. They can be found from the largest rivers, such as the Snake and the Green, to the tiniest mountain streams. They evolved to fill a specific ecological niche, adapting to the seasonal flows of Wyoming’s rivers while taking full advantage of available food sources. Unfortunately, the cutthroats have been extirpated from much of their native range and their future is dependent on conservation efforts of those who care about these fish.


The Wyoming Cutt-Slam is a local competition built around the cutthroat. The Cutt-Slam, started in 1996, encourages fishermen to pursue and appreciate native trout. What better way to learn about these fish than to pursue them in their home waters? You will gain a better understanding of the fish and the amazing diversity of locations they can be found in. Many anglers add their own challenges to the Cutt-Slam, catching all the fish in a single day or with a single fly. But the true adventure is being outdoors and experiencing nature firsthand. For those who complete the slam and submit pictures and location information, Wyoming will recognize your accomplishment with a certificate. 

One of the best ways to experience the Cutt-Slam is angling for them with a fly. Cutthroats are one of the best species to fly fish for as they readily and aggressively rise to a well-placed dry fly. Almost any seasoned fly angler will tell you one of their biggest angling thrills is seeing a fish rise up from a deep river hole and smash their fly. Fly fishing is very much akin to archery hunting because it is up-close and personal: You are meeting the fish on a level playing field. You have to understand the fish and its food sources and make your fly match the fish’s diet.

To see more great things to outdoors do near Rock Springs, Wyo., check out our Be An Outsider interactive map.

If you want to learn more about fly fishing and Wyoming’s native trout, you can enroll in Fly Fishing II in the spring. This course provides a great opportunity to improve your fishing skills. For more information about the course, email Mark Rembacz at

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