Snake River fine-spotted cutthroat trout

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Snake River fine-spotted cutthroat trout
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Salmoniformes
Family: Salmonidae
Genus: Oncorhynchus
O. c. behnkei
Trinomial name
Oncorhynchus clarkii behnkei
Montgomery, 1995

The Snake River fine-spotted cutthroat trout is a form of the cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii) which is considered either as a separate subspecies Oncorhynchus clarkii behnkei, or as a variety of the Yellowstone cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii bouvieri).[1][2] The fish takes its common name from its original habitat, the Snake River of southern Idaho and western Wyoming, and from its unusual pattern of hundreds of small spots that cover most of its body, differing from the larger-spotted Yellowstone cutthroat pattern. Genetically it cannot be distinguished from the Yellowstone cutthroat trout,[3][1] and before the construction of dams there were no physical barriers between the ranges of the two subspecies in the Snake river drainage.[3]

The subspecies was scientifically named in 1995 in a popular book by the columnist M. R. Montgomery, to honor the fisheries research of Dr. Robert J. Behnke, who had presented its (unnamed) description in 1992.[4][3]


While fine-spotted x rainbow trout crosses are observed in the South Fork of the Snake River in Idaho, they are infrequently encountered and appear to be hatchery hybrids. Conversely, Yellowstone x rainbow crosses are common; the "cutbows" of Yellowstone Park in the Lamar River drainage are natural hybrids.


In addition to their natural aversion to cross-breeding with other trout, fine-spotted cutthroats are unusual in their pursuit of a vertebrate diet, mainly other fish, but occasionally including small mammals. They are the only river cutthroat with a vertebrate diet, and as a result their territorial waters are almost devoid of whitefish. While the fine-spotted cutthroats can be very selective feeders during a major hatch of aquatic invertebrates, they are not as focused as rainbow or brown trout, and can be diverted with small terrestrial imitations. In addition, when there is no obvious hatch, anglers can be very successful with large streamer flies that imitate small fish.


  1. ^ a b "Oncorhynchus clarkii behnkei". U.S. Geological Survey NAS - Nonindigenous Aquatic Species. Retrieved 2013-11-10.
  2. ^ "Oncorhynchus clarki behnkei". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 10 November 2013.
  3. ^ a b c Behnke R (2002) Trout and Salmon of North America p. 175. The Free Press, New York, NY. (Simon & Schuster, electronic version 2010)
  4. ^ "Robert "Bob" Behnke - "The Trout Doctor"". Colorado State University. October 17, 2013. Retrieved 2013-11-08.

Further reading[edit]

  • Trotter, Patrick C. (2008). Cutthroat: Native Trout of the West (2nd ed.). Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-25458-9.
  • "Snake River Cutthroats" (PDF). The American Fly Fisher. American Museum of Fly Fishing. 9 (3): 28–29. Summer 1982.

External links[edit]

See also[edit]