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Cutthroat Trout

Have you ever heard of Lewis and Clark? They were some of the first European explorers to visit what is now Montana, and they entered the state by boat, struggling up the Missouri River. On their journey, they saw and named many new plants, animals and fish that had never before been seen by white men.One of the first fish they identified was the cutthroat trout. Lewis and Clark saw their first cutthroat trout at the great falls on the Missouri. This is now where the city of Great Falls now stands. Lewis & Clark describe catching many cutthroat here and also in other rivers along their way.

Why was the cutthroat given it's name? To find the answer, all you have to do is turn the fish upside down. If you look closely under the jaw, you will find two red slash marks-- kind of like cuts on the fishes throat. That's were the name cutthroat came from!

Montana still has places where you can find lots of cutthroats. In many of the places where they used to live though, the cutthroat has disappeared. Cutthroats can not compete very well with other kinds of trout like brown and rainbow that were brought into Montana by white men. Many people are worried about the cutthroat trout, and are trying to find ways for them to increase their numbers.

Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout image. Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout

Cutthroats are very fun fish to catch. They live in some of the prettiest parts of Montana, often high in the mountains or in secluded streams. You can catch cutthroats on bait like worms or grasshoppers, on lures like spinners and spoons, and on flies. It's very important to read the fishing regulations before you go fishing, because in many places in Montana you must carefully let cutthroats go if you catch them. The state record cutthroat trout in Montana weighed 16 pounds and was caught in Red Eagle Lake in 1955.

Want to know a secret about the cutthroat trout? It is Montana's STATE FISH! Ask your parents and friends if they know that. Lewis and Clark might be surprised at just how well known that fish has become that they first found and named almost 200 years ago!