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The biggest cutthroat trout lives in Nevada
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OUTDOORS JUST FOR KIDS

The biggest cutthroat trout lives in Nevada

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Outdoors just for kids 8-13-20

There are 14 different types of cutthroat trout found in waters across the West.

The biggest, the Lahontan cutthroat trout, lives in Nevada. The largest Lahontan cutthroat ever weighed tipped the scales at 41 pounds, although there are reports of fish reaching 60 pounds.

They grow that big in places like Summit Lake, where the trout eat other fish. Lahontans that live in streams don’t grow as big.

The trout gets its unusual name from a geologist for the U.S. Army. He was mapping the area in the 1860s as the nation was looking for the best place to build a railroad. The geologist named the area after an even earlier French explorer, Baron Louis de La Hontan. Somehow later, the name was attached to the area and its native fish, as well.

Unfortunately, the name ignores the people who had lived in the region for a long time — the Northern Paiute Indians. The tribe relied on the big fish for hundreds of years as a food source. When European-American settlers arrived, they caught too many of the fish, dammed the rivers important to the fish for spawning and logged the hillsides sending dirt into the streams, which can suffocate the fishes’ eggs.

Fortunately, a few areas still have Lahontan cutthroat trout. Tribal fish and game workers and scientists are trying to preserve the waters important to the fish, which can live up to 14 years in lakes and about five years in streams.

Montana’s native cutthroat trout are the Yellowstone and westslope cutthroat. Their populations have also been greatly reduced by humans, often by the introduction of nonnative fish that compete with them.

The largest cutthroat trout to be recorded caught in Montana was a 16-pounder. It was reeled in by William Sands in 1955 from Red Eagle Lake in Glacier National Park. Montana’s state fishing records do not have separate entries for Yellowstone or westslope cutthroat trout.

— Brett French, french@billingsgazette.com

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