Lahontan cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus)
Lahontan cutthroat are elongated fish, normally having a length of five times the width of the their body. This body style makes for easier maneuverability within currents. The mature trout range from 8 to 22 inches in length and weigh an average from 4 ounces and 6 pounds; this large range of averages is due to the wide variability of the species within its range.
The Lahontan cutthroat trout coloration is variable, but the trout is distinguished by the large, rounded black spots, evenly distributed over the dark jade colored topsides, head and abdomen. The underbody is more lightly colored. The back and sides of the trout are sparsely spotted, while the fins are heavily covered.
Lahontan cutthroat, like other cutthroat trout, also have a red or red-orange patch on the underside of the jaw line. This patch is where the name, cutthroat, was derived from.
Opportunistic feeders, the Lahontan cutthroat trout seek insects and other small fish, such as a large dry fly and minnow variety specific to the Lahontan Basin, the Lahontan Tui (pronounced chewy) Chub.
The opportunistic feeding of the cutthroat is required because the chub has the same food chain as the trout and thus competes for food. As a result, the cutthroat began to feed on the chub and have been so competitive that they have been known to die as a result of choking on too large of a tui chub. Lahontan cutthroat are also able to seine for the larger zooplankton, when needed.
The Lahontan cutthroats name was derived from the lake it once resided in, the ancient Lahontan Lake of northern Nevada, eastern California and southern Oregon that receded nearly 12,000 years ago and now makes up what is now as the Lahontan Basin.
When this large ancient lake deminished, the Lahontan cutthroat trout were left with the Pyramid, Walker and Summit lakes, as well as the tributaries and main waters of the Truckee, Walker, Quinn and Humboldt rivers of the area. This cutthroat now exists in about 10 percent of its historic stream habitat and only one percent of its past lake habitat from the early 1900s.
The Lahontan cutthroat is both a river- and lake-residing fish. The Lahontan cutthroat also reside in the tributaries of these bodies of water, where they must endure greater temperatures than in lakes and a larger span of temperature change, as much as fluctations of 28 F. The Lahontan cutthroat is the only species of trout that can survive in Walker Lake due to lake's extreme alkaline content.
- The Lahontan cutthroat trout survives in 14 of Nevada’s 17 counties.