A “no-trouts-land” on the Logan River

Cutthroat Trout A no-trouts-land on the Logan River, Copyright (c) Chadd VanZanten, Photographer vanzanten-cutthroat_trout.250x184
Cutthroat Trout
Copyright © Chadd VanZanten, Photographer
Northern Utah’s Logan River is known for its solitude and grandeur. Drive just a few miles up Logan Canyon in Cache Valley and find yourself in a wild setting on the bank of a picturesque mountain stream. It would be difficult to find a place in Utah that is more accessible and yet so peaceful.

However, just a few inches beneath the riffles of the Logan River, a war rages.

This conflict has gone unresolved for more than a century. The combatants fight continuously all day, all night, and all year.

The indigenous defender is the Bonneville cutthroat trout, which migrated here hundreds of thousands of years ago from the west coast of America by way of the Snake and Columbia rivers. They’ve been here ever since, making this Logan River cutthroat army the largest wild and natural population of its kind. Presently, cutthroats hold the upper river, above Twin Bridges or thereabouts.

Invading from downstream is the brown trout, whose antecedents hail from Eurasia. The brown trout isn’t an intentional trespasser; they were stocked here in the 1880s by humans who wanted more fish to catch. However, brown trout are aggressive, and they don’t know or care that the Logan River used to belong to some other species. Brown trout dominate the lower river, especially in the neighborhood of Third Dam.

And so they fight.

The middle portion of the river is a “no-trouts-land,” where the two species meet to wage their desperate struggle. They contend for living space, compete for forage, and, when it’s convenient, they devour each other with gusto.

Which will prevail? Each species has its advantages.

The brown trout are indisputably stronger, tougher, and meaner. They tolerate low water quality and wide swings in water temperature. When brown trout encounter cutthroats of their same size, they aggressively drive out the more-docile cutthroats. Every year, the brown trout gain a little ground, pressing inch by inch upstream.

Cutthroats may not be great fighters, but they are resilient, having survived clear-cut logging, overgrazing, and the damming of the river. The cutthroats were here first, too, so they hold the high ground, and it’s much easier for fish to move downstream than up. And the cutthroats rule the upper tributaries of the Logan River, which they use to spawn and replenish their numbers. But perhaps most importantly, the cutthroats have an immensely powerful ally: humans.

That’s right. The race that brought the brown trout here in the first place now sides with the cutthroats. The humans could easily exterminate all brown trout in Logan River, from its headwaters to the confluence of the Bear River, but that’s not what’s happening. Instead, conservation measures, such as strategically placed barriers to fish passage and fishing regulations that protect cutthroats during their spawning season, give the natives a fighting chance against their fierce invaders.

Fly anglers, too, favor the cutthroat trout, which they fondly refer to as “cutties.” Fly anglers seem averse to harvesting cutties, releasing them instead unharmed after capture. Opinions vary among experts about how much catch-and-release practices actually help the Cutthroats, but this is war, and these natives, besieged by a relentless and superior foe, can use every advantage they can get.

For Wild About Utah I’m Chadd VanZanten.

Credits:
Images: Courtesy and Copyright Chadd VanZanten, Photographer
Text:     Chadd VanZanten


Additional Reading:

The Cutthroat Trout, Anna Bengston, Wild About Utah, July 10, 2014, http://wildaboututah.org/cutthroat-trout/

Cutthroat Trout, Native trout of the interior west, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, https://wildlife.utah.gov/cutthroat-home.html

Small Stream Cutthroat Trout, Matt McKell, May 10, 2016, http://wildlife.utah.gov/blog/2016/small-stream-cutthroat-trout/

The Cutthroat Trout

Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout, Oncorhynchus clarki bouvieri
Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout
Oncorhynchus clarki bouvieri
Courtesy USDA Forest Service
 
Bonneville Cutthroat Trout, Oncorhynchus clarki utahBonneville Cutthroat Trout
Oncorhynchus clarki utah
Courtesy Wildlife.utah.gov species list
 
Colorado River Cutthroat Trout, Oncorhynchus clarki pleuriticusColorado River Cutthroat Trout
Oncorhynchus clarki pleuriticus
Courtesy US BLM Rawlins, WY Office
 

Utah streams offer excellent year-round fishing opportunities for every level of angler. According to the Department of Natural Resources, Utah’s waters are home to approximately 80 different species of fish, but it is the trout fishing that is the biggest attraction for fishermen. Of the trout species swimming in our rivers and lakes, the cutthroat trout is a local favorite and the only trout native to the state.

The cutthroat trout represents the most diverse trout species in North America. They are a freshwater fish of the Salmonidae family that live in cold, clear streams and lakes across the west. Cutthroat trout are distinguished from other trout species by two red slashes prominently striping the lower jaw after which they are named. All cutthroat trout share a single common ancestor, but historic population isolation gave rise to 14 subspecies, each endemic to their own geographic region and river drainage.

There are four subspecies that exist in Utah. Only three of these are considered native to the state: the Colorado River cutthroat, the Yellowstone cutthroat, and Utah’s state fish, the Bonneville cutthroat. In Utah, the Colorado River cutthroat trout can be found in some of the smaller streams and tributaries of the Green River, the San Juan River, and the Colorado River drainages. Their bright coloration and posterior black spotting distinguish these cutthroats from others.

Pure, native Yellowstone cutthroat trout are present in small numbers in the streams of the North Slope of the Raft River Mountains in northwestern Utah. However, this subspecies is more widely distributed across the state due to extensive stocking. Yellowstone cutthroat trout can be differentiated by larger-sized black spots concentrated near the tail and their gold, gray, and copper tones.

The Bonneville cutthroat trout evolved in the Bonneville Basin of Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, and Nevada. Its primary ancestors were a population of lake dwelling cutthroat trout living in the late-Pleistocene aged Lake Bonneville. The Bonneville cutthroat trout is less vividly colored and has spots that are more sparsely and evenly distributed across the body than other cutthroats. Thought to be extinct in the 1970s, populations of the Bonneville cutthroat trout are now estimated to exist in around 35% of their historic range, including the nearby Weber and Provo Rivers.

Like so many species, the native cutthroat trout of Utah are under significant pressure due to drought, habitat loss, disease, and competition with non-native species. Though only the Colorado River cutthroat is included on the Utah State Sensitive species list, conservation of all of Utah’s native cutthroat populations is a focal point for state wildlife resource managers.

For Wild About Utah, I’m Anna Bengtson of Park City.

Credits:
Images: Courtesy USDA Forest Service, US Bureau of Land Management & Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.
Text: Anna Bengston

Sources & Additional Reading:

“2014 Utah Fishing Guidebook.” Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, 1 Jan. 2014. Web. 7 July 2014: http://wildlife.utah.gov/guidebooks/2014_pdfs/2014_fishing_low.pdf.

“Bonneville Cutthroat Trout.” Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. n.d. Web. 7 July 2014: http://dwrcdc.nr.utah.gov/rsgis2/search/Display.asp?FlNm=oncoclut.

“Bonneville Cutthroat Trout.” Native Trout Species. The Western Native Trout Campaign, n.d. Web. 7 July 2014: http://www.westerntrout.org/trout/profiles/bonneville.htm.

“Colorado River Cutthroat Trout.” Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. n.d. Web 7 July 2014: http://dwrcdc.nr.utah.gov/rsgis2/search/Display.asp?FlNm=oncoclpl.

“Cutthroat Trout.” Colorado Parks and Wildlife, n.d. Web. 7 July 2014: http://cpw.state.co.us/learn/Pages/ResearchCutthroatTrout.aspx.

“Cutthroat Trout.” Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. n.d. Web. 7 July 2014: http://dwrcdc.nr.utah.gov/rsgis2/search/Display.asp?FlNm=oncoclar.

“Cutthroat Trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii).” Natural Resources Conservation Service, 1 Jan. 2007. Web. 7 July 2014: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/nrcs143_010039.pdf.

“Cutthroat Trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii) – FactSheet.” Cutthroat Trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii) – FactSheet. U.S Geological Survey, 14 June 2013. Web. 7 July 2014: http://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.aspx?speciesID=890.

“Endangered Species of the Mountain-Prairie Region.” U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, n.d. Web. 7 July 2014: http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/species/fish/bct/.

“Fishes.” Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, n.d. Web. 7 July 2014: http://dwrcdc.nr.utah.gov/rsgis2/search/SearchSelection.asp?Group=OSTEICHTHYES&Species=VERT.

“Native Cutthroat of Utah.” Trout Unlimited Blog, 18 Dec. 2012. Web. 7 July 2014: http://www.tu.org/blog/native-cutthroat-of-utah.

“Utah’s Native Trout.” Utah Fly Fishing Club, 24 Dec. 2011. Web. 7 July 2014: http://utahflyfishingclub.com/2011/12/24/utahs-native-trout/.

“Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout.” Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. n.d. Web. 7 July 2014: http://dwrcdc.nr.utah.gov/rsgis2/search/Display.asp?FlNm=oncoclbo.
Brown, Dylan. “Shocking habitat projects help increase native Cutthroat populations.” Standard Examiner, 14 May 2014. Web. 7 July 2014: http://go.standard.net/Recreation/2014/05/13/Shocking-habitat-projects-help-increase-native-Cutthroat-populations.html.

Chorney, Chad. “For the Love of Cutthroat.” Trout Unlimited Blog, 29 Jan. 2013. Web. 7 July 2014: http://www.tu.org/blog-posts/love-cutthroat-trout.

The Cutthroat Trout

Yellowstone Cutthroat, Oncorhynchus clarki bouvieri, Courtesy USDA Forest Service, http://www.fs.fed.us/
Yellowstone Cutthroat
Oncorhynchus clarki bouvieri
Courtesy USDA Forest Service
 
Bonneville Cutthroat, Oncorhynchus clarki utah, Courtesy Wildlife.utah.gov(http://Wildlife.utah.gov) species listBonneville Cutthroat
Oncorhynchus clarki utah
Courtesy Wildlife.utah.gov species list
 
Colorado River Cutthroat, Oncorhynchus clarki pleuriticus, Courtesy US BLM Rawlins, WY Office, http://www.blm.gov/wy/st/en/field_offices/Rawlins/fisheries.htmlColorado River Cutthroat
Oncorhynchus clarki pleuriticus
Courtesy US BLM Rawlins, WY Office
 

Utah streams offer excellent year-round fishing opportunities for every level of angler. According to the Department of Natural Resources, Utah’s waters are home to approximately 80 different species of fish, but it is the trout fishing that is the biggest attraction for fishermen. Of the trout species swimming in our rivers and lakes, the cutthroat trout is a local favorite and the only trout native to the state.

The cutthroat trout represents the most diverse trout species in North America. They are a freshwater fish of the Salmonidae family that live in cold, clear streams and lakes across the west. Cutthroat trout are distinguished from other trout species by two red slashes prominently striping the lower jaw after which they are named. All cutthroat trout share a single common ancestor, but historic population isolation gave rise to 14 subspecies, each endemic to their own geographic region and river drainage.

There are four subspecies that exist in Utah. Only three of these are considered native to the state: the Colorado River cutthroat, the Yellowstone cutthroat, and Utah’s state fish, the Bonneville cutthroat. In Utah, the Colorado River cutthroat trout can be found in some of the smaller streams and tributaries of the Green River, the San Juan River, and the Colorado River drainages. Their bright coloration and posterior black spotting distinguish these cutthroats from others.

Pure, native Yellowstone cutthroat trout are present in small numbers in the streams of the North Slope of the Raft River Mountains in northwestern Utah. However, this subspecies is more widely distributed across the state due to extensive stocking. Yellowstone cutthroat trout can be differentiated by larger-sized black spots concentrated near the tail and their gold, gray, and copper tones.

The Bonneville cutthroat trout evolved in the Bonneville Basin of Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, and Nevada. Its primary ancestors were a population of lake dwelling cutthroat trout living in the late-Pleistocene aged Lake Bonneville. The Bonneville cutthroat trout is less vividly colored and has spots that are more sparsely and evenly distributed across the body than other cutthroats. Thought to be extinct in the 1970s, populations of the Bonneville cutthroat trout are now estimated to exist in around 35% of their historic range, including the nearby Weber and Provo Rivers.

Like so many species, the native cutthroat trout of Utah are under significant pressure due to drought, habitat loss, disease, and competition with non-native species. Though only the Colorado River cutthroat is included on the Utah State Sensitive species list, conservation of all of Utah’s native cutthroat populations is a focal point for state wildlife resource managers.

For Wild About Utah, I’m Anna Bengtson of Park City.

Credits:
Images: Courtesy USDA Forest Service, US Bureau of Land Management & Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.
Text: Anna Bengston

Sources & Additional Reading:

“2014 Utah Fishing Guidebook.” Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, 1 Jan. 2014. Web. 7 July 2014: http://wildlife.utah.gov/guidebooks/2014_pdfs/2014_fishing_low.pdf.

“Bonneville Cutthroat Trout.” Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. n.d. Web. 7 July 2014: http://dwrcdc.nr.utah.gov/rsgis2/search/Display.asp?FlNm=oncoclut.

“Bonneville Cutthroat Trout.” Native Trout Species. The Western Native Trout Campaign, n.d. Web. 7 July 2014: http://www.westerntrout.org/trout/profiles/bonneville.htm.

“Colorado River Cutthroat Trout.” Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. n.d. Web 7 July 2014: http://dwrcdc.nr.utah.gov/rsgis2/search/Display.asp?FlNm=oncoclpl.

“Cutthroat Trout.” Colorado Parks and Wildlife, n.d. Web. 7 July 2014: http://cpw.state.co.us/learn/Pages/ResearchCutthroatTrout.aspx.

“Cutthroat Trout.” Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. n.d. Web. 7 July 2014: http://dwrcdc.nr.utah.gov/rsgis2/search/Display.asp?FlNm=oncoclar.

“Cutthroat Trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii).” Natural Resources Conservation Service, 1 Jan. 2007. Web. 7 July 2014: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/nrcs143_010039.pdf.

“Cutthroat Trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii) – FactSheet.” Cutthroat Trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii) – FactSheet. U.S Geological Survey, 14 June 2013. Web. 7 July 2014: http://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.aspx?speciesID=890.

“Endangered Species of the Mountain-Prairie Region.” U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, n.d. Web. 7 July 2014: http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/species/fish/bct/.

“Fishes.” Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, n.d. Web. 7 July 2014: http://dwrcdc.nr.utah.gov/rsgis2/search/SearchSelection.asp?Group=OSTEICHTHYES&Species=VERT.

“Native Cutthroat of Utah.” Trout Unlimited Blog, 18 Dec. 2012. Web. 7 July 2014: http://www.tu.org/blog/native-cutthroat-of-utah.

“Utah’s Native Trout.” Utah Fly Fishing Club, 24 Dec. 2011. Web. 7 July 2014: http://utahflyfishingclub.com/2011/12/24/utahs-native-trout/.

“Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout.” Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. n.d. Web. 7 July 2014: http://dwrcdc.nr.utah.gov/rsgis2/search/Display.asp?FlNm=oncoclbo.
Brown, Dylan. “Shocking habitat projects help increase native Cutthroat populations.” Standard Examiner, 14 May 2014. Web. 7 July 2014: http://go.standard.net/Recreation/2014/05/13/Shocking-habitat-projects-help-increase-native-Cutthroat-populations.html.

Chorney, Chad. “For the Love of Cutthroat.” Trout Unlimited Blog, 29 Jan. 2013. Web. 7 July 2014: http://www.tu.org/blog-posts/love-cutthroat-trout.

The Cutthroat Trout

Yellowstone Cutthroat TroutYellowstone Cutthroat
Oncorhynchus clarki bouvieri
Courtesy USDA Forest Service
 
Utah Cutthroat TroutBonneville Cutthroat
Oncorhynchus clarki utah
Courtesy Wildlife.utah.gov species list
 
Colorado Cutthroat TroutColorado River Cutthroat
Oncorhynchus clarki pleuriticus
Courtesy US BLM Rawlins, WY Office
 
[/caption]
Utah streams offer excellent year-round fishing opportunities for every level of angler. According to the Department of Natural Resources, Utah’s waters are home to approximately 80 different species of fish, but it is the trout fishing that is the biggest attraction for fishermen. Of the trout species swimming in our rivers and lakes, the cutthroat trout is a local favorite and the only trout native to the state.

The cutthroat trout represents the most diverse trout species in North America. They are a freshwater fish of the Salmonidae family that live in cold, clear streams and lakes across the west. Cutthroat trout are distinguished from other trout species by two red slashes prominently striping the lower jaw after which they are named. All cutthroat trout share a single common ancestor, but historic population isolation gave rise to 14 subspecies, each endemic to their own geographic region and river drainage.

There are four subspecies that exist in Utah. Only three of these are considered native to the state: the Colorado River cutthroat, the Yellowstone cutthroat, and Utah’s state fish, the Bonneville cutthroat. In Utah, the Colorado River cutthroat trout can be found in some of the smaller streams and tributaries of the Green River, the San Juan River, and the Colorado River drainages. Their bright coloration and posterior black spotting distinguish these cutthroats from others.

Pure, native Yellowstone cutthroat trout are present in small numbers in the streams of the North Slope of the Raft River Mountains in northwestern Utah. However, this subspecies is more widely distributed across the state due to extensive stocking. Yellowstone cutthroat trout can be differentiated by larger-sized black spots concentrated near the tail and their gold, gray, and copper tones.

The Bonneville cutthroat trout evolved in the Bonneville Basin of Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, and Nevada. Its primary ancestors were a population of lake dwelling cutthroat trout living in the late-Pleistocene aged Lake Bonneville. The Bonneville cutthroat trout is less vividly colored and has spots that are more sparsely and evenly distributed across the body than other cutthroats. Thought to be extinct in the 1970s, populations of the Bonneville cutthroat trout are now estimated to exist in around 35% of their historic range, including the nearby Weber and Provo Rivers.

Like so many species, the native cutthroat trout of Utah are under significant pressure due to drought, habitat loss, disease, and competition with non-native species. Though only the Colorado River cutthroat is included on the Utah State Sensitive species list, conservation of all of Utah’s native cutthroat populations is a focal point for state wildlife resource managers.

For Wild About Utah, I’m Anna Bengtson of Park City.

Credits:
Images: Courtesy USDA Forest Service, US Bureau of Land Management & Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.
Text: Anna Bengston

Sources & Additional Reading:

“2014 Utah Fishing Guidebook.” Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, 1 Jan. 2014. Web. 7 July 2014: http://wildlife.utah.gov/guidebooks/2014_pdfs/2014_fishing_low.pdf.

“Bonneville Cutthroat Trout.” Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. n.d. Web. 7 July 2014: http://dwrcdc.nr.utah.gov/rsgis2/search/Display.asp?FlNm=oncoclut.

“Bonneville Cutthroat Trout.” Native Trout Species. The Western Native Trout Campaign, n.d. Web. 7 July 2014: http://www.westerntrout.org/trout/profiles/bonneville.htm.

“Colorado River Cutthroat Trout.” Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. n.d. Web 7 July 2014: http://dwrcdc.nr.utah.gov/rsgis2/search/Display.asp?FlNm=oncoclpl.

“Cutthroat Trout.” Colorado Parks and Wildlife, n.d. Web. 7 July 2014: http://cpw.state.co.us/learn/Pages/ResearchCutthroatTrout.aspx.

“Cutthroat Trout.” Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. n.d. Web. 7 July 2014: http://dwrcdc.nr.utah.gov/rsgis2/search/Display.asp?FlNm=oncoclar.

“Cutthroat Trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii).” Natural Resources Conservation Service, 1 Jan. 2007. Web. 7 July 2014: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/nrcs143_010039.pdf.

“Cutthroat Trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii) – FactSheet.” Cutthroat Trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii) – FactSheet. U.S Geological Survey, 14 June 2013. Web. 7 July 2014: http://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.aspx?speciesID=890.

“Endangered Species of the Mountain-Prairie Region.” U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, n.d. Web. 7 July 2014: http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/species/fish/bct/.

“Fishes.” Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, n.d. Web. 7 July 2014: http://dwrcdc.nr.utah.gov/rsgis2/search/SearchSelection.asp?Group=OSTEICHTHYES&Species=VERT.

“Native Cutthroat of Utah.” Trout Unlimited Blog, 18 Dec. 2012. Web. 7 July 2014: http://www.tu.org/blog/native-cutthroat-of-utah.

“Utah’s Native Trout.” Utah Fly Fishing Club, 24 Dec. 2011. Web. 7 July 2014: http://utahflyfishingclub.com/2011/12/24/utahs-native-trout/.

“Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout.” Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. n.d. Web. 7 July 2014: http://dwrcdc.nr.utah.gov/rsgis2/search/Display.asp?FlNm=oncoclbo.
Brown, Dylan. “Shocking habitat projects help increase native Cutthroat populations.” Standard Examiner, 14 May 2014. Web. 7 July 2014: http://go.standard.net/Recreation/2014/05/13/Shocking-habitat-projects-help-increase-native-Cutthroat-populations.html.

Chorney, Chad. “For the Love of Cutthroat.” Trout Unlimited Blog, 29 Jan. 2013. Web. 7 July 2014: http://www.tu.org/blog-posts/love-cutthroat-trout.