Freshwater Fishing
cutthroat trout caught on a fly

Where to Catch Cutthroat Trout in Oregon

cutthroat trout caught on a fly
Rex Trulove's image for:
"Where to Catch Cutthroat Trout in Oregon"
Caption: cutthroat trout caught on a fly
Image by: Steve motzkus

Cutthroat trout (Salmo clarki) look similar to rainbow trout, save for the bright red under the gill covers. There are physical differences between the two species, but this is the most observable visual one. They are numerous in Oregon, fun to catch, and are quite tasty. To find the best places to catch them in Oregon, or elsewhere, it is first a good idea to know what kind of habitat they thrive in.

This is a somewhat aggressive species that especially likes cold, clear water of streams and rivers that flow into the ocean, though they have been successfully planted in many lakes. They can grow quite large, however, even small streams can contain smaller specimens. They are voracious feeders, so they require a ready supply of insects, crustaceans, and similar food, if they are to flourish.

Thankfully, there are quite a number of streams and rivers where these fish are plentiful in Oregon. One such river is the Coquille River, flowing down through the mountains, to the ocean. This river is scenic, yet it contains some great cutthroats and fantastic fishing. Most of the year, the larger fish are confined to the deeper waters of the river; however, they usually move upstream into shallower tributaries in order to spawn.

It is common to catch these trout when they are the size to easily fit into a frying pan. Individuals up to several pounds are often caught out of this river system, however. Even larger fish have been caught.

Other rivers, such as the Chetco River, Umpqua River, and Willamette River contain cutthroats. The Oregon coast does as well, though for the smaller fish, a person should look for the tributaries. Many of these smaller streams have a great population of this trout. Of course, greater numbers isn't an indication that they will be caught. It simply increases the chances.

It was previously mentioned that these trout had been introduced to lakes in the state. This is true. However, they are also found in lakes that form tributaries. One example is Coyote Lake, in Harney County. In deeper lakes, even those that are landlocked, cutthroat often survive in surprising numbers.

These fish aren't as hardy as rainbow trout. However, they are a great fish to go after. Some subspecies have declining numbers, but there are various factors that figure in to this. Conservation efforts have been underway for some years to make this trout a continuing source of fishing and food.

Cutthroats are beautiful and good tasting trout. They are found primarily in streams and rivers that eventually wind their way to the Pacific Ocean in Oregon. According to Oregon Fish and Wildlife, they are among the most popular fish for area fishermen. They also exist in both fresh and brackish waters here. Go upstream from any river flowing into the sea, and backtrack, and a person is likely to find this species of trout.

Finding them isn't the hard part. Catching them is much harder. However, one on the hook makes it all worthwhile.


Oregon Fish and Wildlife
Oregon State University
Tim Hayden, fish biologist, deceased

More about this author: Rex Trulove

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