A commercial fish mainly harvested in North America for food, the cutthroat trout is one of the most gorgeous species of fish owing to its color body and bright spots. There are households in the US and Canada that have the cutthroat trout as a pet or ornamental fish. It’s also a popular game fish for fly fishing. If you’re interested in learning cutthroat trout fishing tips from experts and how to catch cutthroat trout in a lake, then read on!
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Cutthroat Trout Fish Facts
Scientific Name: Oncorhynchus clarkii
Depth Range: Up to 200 meters
Characteristics: Blue or silvery with red, yellow, and/or streaks in the body, depending on the subspecies
Subspecies: Greenback, Yellowstone, coastal, bonneville, sea-run, snake river, and Alvord cutthroat
Habitat: Cutthroat trout prefer clean water and cold-water temperature
Reproduction: Different cutthroat trout species reach sexual maturity after 6 years. They migrate to freshwater streams during the spawning season. They’re capable of spawning several times during one spawning season. It’s very common for different subspecies of cutthroat trout to interbreed. They don’t exhibit parental caring for their offspring when the fertilized eggs hatch following gestation.
How to Fish for Cutthroat Trout
If what you want are cutthroat trout fishing tips, it’s best to get them from experts, such as our seasoned anglers! But, we also consulted the online angling community to get some tips and see their take on the best ways for fishing for cutthroat trout.
The two most popular methods that are used among anglers are trolling and still fishing for catching various subspecies of cutthroat trout. In addition to live bait, the species can also be caught with the use of flies and artificial lures.
In freshwater, cutthroat trout can be found in clear water with a cool temperature, mostly in pools, coastal streams, and the tributary of a small river. In an ocean, the fish feed and shelter along marshes, estuaries, and tidal lagoons. In general, they stay close to the shore where there’s a protected area. Kelp and eelgrass beds are the prime habitats of the species as the beds host various species of prey and provide suitable shelter.
A cutthroat trout usually likes big meals that consist of stickleback, smaller trout, sculpins, and salmon fry. In waters where there aren’t big morsels of the fish’s preferred food source, it fares on leeches, adult insects, various nymphs, and chironomids. It’s a true opportunist.
One of the cutthroat trout fishing tips that you should remember is to try catching them at specific locations. This includes points, back eddies, current rips, and boulders. These are where you’ll be most productive when searching for cutthroat trout. A feature of the cutthroat trout which makes it especially appealing among fly anglers is it’s typically found close to the shore. For fly fishing cutthroat trout, the best time would be early spring to fall, particularly starting September to October.
In order to fly fish for this magnificent fish, use the 9 ft 5 weight fly rod and opt for the matching reel that’s spool with an intermediate sinking line. Also, have a maximum of 10 ft of a 4-pound leader. The norms for cutthroat trout fly fishing are longer casts and quicker retrieves.
The quick-strip retrieve would be best to remember. Because the fish prey on fry and minnows, they expect the prey to swim or escape quickly. Strip the fly quickly, then maintain that speed. A trout will follow bait for a good distance, usually creating a wake behind it.
As always, try matching the hatch. Fly patterns most anglers use are streamers, dry flies, and nymphs. Spin casting off the shore will also be a highly productive way for catching cutthroat trout fish. The fishing tackle you use should be light. An ultralight spinner loaded with a 4-6 lb. test line is great. Various ultralight spinners will work, including spoons.
Cutthroat Trout Fishing Tips
Here’s what you need to do:
Determine the Direction of the Current
Deep pools that are created by currents usually hold massive trout; however, you’d also find some that are smaller. If you plan on capturing larger cutthroat trout, be in such pools from dusk to dawn.
Remember Synthetic Baits Will Only Work on Stocked Trout
You can use a power bait or synthetic bait when fishing for cutthroat trout, but make sure the fish that are in a body of water have been farm-raised or stocked and not native.
This is because most native trout won’t bite on artificial bait whereas the stocked trout will most likely be attracted to it as farm-raised trout are fed pellets. They will feed on anything that smells or resembles like the pellets given to them in the hatchery.
Use Live Bait
The most effective live bait when catching trout is hands down the nightcrawler. If you can’t get your hands on nightcrawlers, opt for crayfish and minnows.
A neat trick when deciding what bait to use is to scan the animals that are living close to the shore. Doing so will help you determine what are native, which trout usually have for lunch or dinner.
Choose Your Lure Wisely
It’s critical that you select the correct lure when cutthroat trout fishing. If you choose the wrong type, you can best bet you’d miss out on several opportunities to catch trout.
For trout that is on a lake, it usually gets hooked with small silver spoons. Remember this and use it to your advantage when you’re buying a lure. Make sure it mimics a spoon.
Cutthroat trout are popular cold-water game fish and they are subjected to various sportfishing regulations across North America. Native stocks of some subspecies of cutthroat trout e.g. west slope cutthroat are in decline.
Before you head out and try to get a chomp from cutthroat trout, make sure that you’ve familiarized the local regulations and you’ve secured the appropriate fishing licenses to avoid fines and penalties.