The Lahontan Cutthroat Trout is the largest cutthroat trout species and is the state fish of Nevada. The present distribution is restricted to a few lakes and streams within and outside the historic range. Dark olive backs and reddish to yellowish sides frequently characterize the Lahontans found in streams, while the sides of lake-dwelling Lahontans are often silvery. The largest recorded Lahontan trout weighed in at 41 pounds.
The Lahontan Cutthroat Trout (Oncorhynchus clarki henshawi) is native to the Lahontan basin of northern Nevada, northeastern California, and southeastern Oregon. Like other trout species, Lahontan Cutthroat Trout are found in a wide variety of cold-water habitats including large terminal alkaline lakes, alpine lakes, slow meandering rivers, montane rivers, and small headwater tributary streams. The severe decline in range and numbers of Lahontan Cutthroat Trout is primarily attributable to dam and diversion structures, habitat fragmentation and degradation throughout the species range, and the introduction of non-native trout species.
The Lahontan Cutthroat Trout was originally listed as endangered on October 13, 1970 under the Endangered Species Protection Act of 1969. On July 16, 1975, the Lahontan cutthroat was reclassified as threatened under the Endangered Species Act of 1973. There is no designated critical habitat for Lahontan cutthroat trout. The Recovery Plan for Lahontan cutthroat trout was approved on January 30, 1995. A status review in 2009 found that Lahontan Cutthroat Trout still meets the definition of threatened and no change in listing status was recommended.
Although listed as threatened, Lahontan Cutthroat Trout can be harvested under a special 4(d) rule under the Endangered Species Act that allows the states to permit angling. Consequently, Lahontan cutthroats have played an important part of recreational fishing in Nevada, California and Oregon for the past 30 years. They are raised at State, Tribal and Federal Hatcheries both for recovery and recreational fishing purposes. In Nevada, numerous LCT waters are open to fishing and are very popular, including the Truckee River, Pyramid Lake, and Walker Lake populations. There are other numerous lakes and streams in the historic drainages that are stocked with Lahontan Cutthroat Trout. In order to protect the integrity of fishable populations, special fishing restrictions are in place in some waters. The sports fish status of Lahontan Cutthroat Trout has improved angler support for reintroduction and conservation.
Since 2008, the Western Native Trout Initiative has contributed over $215,000 to 3 projects benefitting Lahontan Cutthroat trout in Nevada. Project goals have been focused on fish migration barriers to protect Lahontan cutthroat trout populations on Maggie Creek, McDermitt Creek and Lower McDermitt Creek.
Click here to read the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Lahontan Cutthroat Trout Keystone Initiative Business Plan.
Learn more about Nevada Department of Wildlife’s efforts to conserve Lahontan Cutthroat Trout.
Click here to read more about the Lahontan National Fish Hatchery Complex efforts to conserve Lahontan Cutthroat Trout.
Learn more about California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s work conserving Lahontan Cutthroat Trout.
Learn more about Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Lahontan Cutthroat Trout Conservation and Recovery Plans.
Read more about Pyramid Lake Fisheries of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe.
Read this feature article about Lahontan Cutthroat Trout Conservation from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Read more about the Lahontan Cutthroat Trout’s status from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Watch this video that showcases research on Lahontan Cutthroat Trout at Summit Lake being conducted by the Summit Lake Paiute Tribe and the University of Nevada Reno.
Watch this video about collaborative conservation efforts to benefit Lahontan Cutthroat Trout between the Lahontan National Fish Hatchery Complex and the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe.
Click here to watch a video of Pilot Peak Lahontan Cutthroat Trout spawning in the lower Truckee River, courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Lahontan National Fish Hatchery Complex.
Lahontan Cutthroat Trout Photo Gallery
The photos below are the native lake form of Lahontan Cutthroat Trout in Pyramid Lake. Both photos were taken by Gregg Ritland. The Pilot Peak Lahontan Cutthroat Trout in these photos were reestablished in Pyramid Lake in 2006 in collaboration with the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe. The size of fish in the photo are 20 to 24 pounds. They grow about one inch per month once stocked. A naturally reproducing population was confirmed in 2014 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Lahontan National Fish Hatchery Complex.
Below – an angler holds a freshly-caught Pilot Peak Lahontan Cutthroat Trout at Pyramid Lake. Photo Credit: Gregg Ritland for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The photos below are the stream form of Lahontan Cutthroat Trout. Photos in this section are courtesy of the Nevada Department of Wildlife.
Lahontan Cutthroat Trout photos below are courtesy of Native Trout Addict (@nativetroutaddict)