- Snake River fine-spotted cutthroat trout
Snake River fine-spotted cutthroat trout Scientific classification Kingdom: Animalia Phylum: Chordata Class: Actinopterygii Order: Salmoniformes Family: Salmonidae Genus: Oncorhynchus Species: O. clarki Subspecies: O. c. behnkei Trinomial name Oncorhynchus clarki behnkei
The Snake River fine-spotted cutthroat trout is a form of the Yellowstone cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarki bouvieri) subspecies. Sub-species designation has been proposed with a trinomial classification of Oncorhynchus clarki behnkei, but the sub-species is not formally recognized. This cutthroat trout 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.
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 focussed 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.
- Trout and Salmon of North America by Robert J. Behnke, The Free Press, N.Y., N.Y. 2002
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