As I prepare to launch a new cutthroat trout fishing hoodie featuring a Yellowstone cutty image by AD Maddox, I have been reflecting on my local fish. OK, I'll admit it...I'm incredibly spoiled. Living in Northern Idaho, my "home waters" are full of feisty Westslope Cutthroat Trout. As such, they have quickly become my favorite. Now, I know a lot of people (read: fishing snobs) look down on the cutthroat as being a lesser species because they come eagerly to a dry fly, but that's is one of the things I've come to really enjoy. There is just nothing quite like a cutty "take".
While there are a lot of aggressive takes over the course of a summer, the truly memorable ones are the slow rises. They just about kill you with anticipation as you can often see them coming. Waiting for the line to go tight is akin to a 5 year old waiting for Christmas. Without the patience of Job, you risk an early set and a huge miss. Likewise, the rejections are equally sublime. Open mouths that turn away at the last second are enough to make a grown man cry.
This summer I have been able to float and fish in some of Northern Idaho's finest cutthroat streams. Sorry if the lists promotes drooling by the reader but I've experienced Westslopes in the Coeur D'Alene, St. Joe, Lochsa, Selway, and Clark Fork. Best of all, I've been able to have booth early and late season success. In February and March we can throw nymphs and even get some dry fly takes on BWO's and Skwalas. In spring it's stoneflies, mayflies and a wonderful green drake hatch as we move into summer. Hoppers and terrestrials give way to caddis and then to October caddis later in the fall. Now it's streamers and nymphs again.
Even the name, Oncorhyncus clarki lewisi, harkens back to when the nation (and especially the West) was new. While these spring-spawner's habitat was all over the western US, The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reports that their traditional habitat has been compromised. They say:
Westslope cutthroat trout have suffered a reduction in their historical range because of habitat loss and fragmentation, isolation of existing populations and their ability to hybridize with rainbow trout/steelhead and other sub-species of cutthroat trout.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) was petitioned to list the Westslope cutthroat trout under the protection of the Endangered Species Act. In 2000, the FWS determined that listing the Westslope cutthroat trout was not warranted because of its wide distribution and the available habitat on public lands. Conservation efforts by state and federal agencies are currently underway to restore Westslope cutthroat trout.
Management of this species involves protecting the population strongholds and making tough decisions on restoration priorities for the depressed populations of Westslope cutthroat trout. Recovering depressed populations will involve habitat restoration and removing non-native species.
We wish them luck in these endeavors and hope that these excellent fish will continue to be available in the size and numbers that I've seen this year. In honor of the Cutthroat Trout we are launching a new SunPro Hoodie featuring artwork from AD Maddox. These are currently available for pre-ordering on our website with delivery expected over the next week or so.
Get Yours Today: Click Here
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