Yellowfin Cutthroat - Colorado Fishing Forum

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Old 10-04-2006, 11:46 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Yellowfin Cutthroat

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The yellowfin cutthroat trout ( Oncorhynchus clarki macdonaldi ), a subspecies of Cutthroat trout, was officially identified in 1891 and named after the US Fish Commissioner, MacDonald.

At the end of the last ice-age boulders and clay morraine blocked off a tributary of the headwaters of the Arkansas River in what is now the state of Colorado. The two lakes which formed were named the "Twin Lakes" by the area's settlers. Both lakes held small greenback cutthroat trout from the early days of the Wild West, but in the mid-1880s reports circulated of much larger trout, up to 10lb in weight, with bright yellow fins.

In July 1889, Professor D. S. Jordan and G. R. Fisher visited Twin Lakes and published their discoveries in the 1891 Bulletin of the US Fish Commission. They found both the greenback and what they proclaimed to be a new species the "yellowfin cutthroat". In his report Jordan took credit for the name and described the fish as follows: 'Color, silvery olive; a broad lemon yellow shade along the sides, lower fins bright golden yellow in life, no red anywhere except the deep red dash on each side of the throat'.

Jordan's specimens have recently been re-examined by American biologist Robert Behnke, who commented, 'I have no doubt that Jordan was correct; the yellowfin trout and the greenback trout from Twin Lakes were two distinct groups of cutthroat trout'.

Until about 1903, greenback and yellowfin cutthroats survived together in Twin Lakes, the populations remaining isolated as both breeders and feeders. The end for the yellowfin cutthroat came soon after the introduction of the rainbow trout to Twin Lakes. The greenback population interbred with the rainbows but the yellowfin disappeared completely.

Reference - Wikipedia
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Old 10-05-2006, 10:46 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Yellowfin Cutthroat

Yes, very interesting. Too bad they are not still around. I wonder if twin lakes is the only location they were ever found.
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Old 10-05-2006, 11:44 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Yellowfin Cutthroat

Damn them bo-bos

I wonder why the yellow fins weren't able to hybridize like the greenies?
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Old 10-05-2006, 11:59 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Yellowfin Cutthroat

Originally Posted by coloradokid
Damn them bo-bos
I was thinkin' the same!

Bows are everywhere!

I wish there was a picture of the Yellowfin Cutt. I did find one, but it was a sketch.
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Old 10-06-2006, 07:51 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Yellowfin Cutthroat

Thanks for placing this very interesting info on this site. Hope it get thoughts stirring!

The source you utilized, Wikipedia, is one of my favorite sites for beginning research into subjects. However it is not a ‘legitimate’ source for scientific fact… due to the methods of getting the info on line. Anyone can go in and “edit” info with their thoughts, subject to public review, and if not challenged… it is then part of Wikipedia (yeah, it is more complicated… but the outcome is the same). Much of the info IS valid, but is not always complete or entirely accurate. I am not arguing with you here, just trying to get to basics. Really quite pleased the subject came up!

As I understand it from previous searching/literature research on this (done over 5 years ago), the original Yellowfin Cutthroat specimens consisted of two smaller fish, which have since been misplaced/lost (in Missouri?). Also, I understand there were NO specimens of Greenback Cutthroat collected at the same location/time to compare them with today. Thus, making a statement that they were two distinct species is perhaps irrational/unsupportable, other than opinion, as there was no way of comparing them. The second objection I would bring forward is that it would be questionable that two distinct species, capable of interbreeding, could exist in the same isolated body(s) of water since the last ice age, without interbreeding. I would present a perhaps more plausible conclusion, that there may have been two color variations within the isolated gene pool. One of these could have been ‘dominant’, and the other ‘recessive’, with the one bearing the yellow gene also having a size advantage. Also, that one variety could interbreed, and the other variety could not interbreed, with Rainbows could be well argued either way. I could go much further here as to how this would take place/vary genetically, but just wish to make the point for now.

IF the original specimens have been found, and they were preserved in alcohol (likely) then DNA could be taken to establish the species and subs… and differentials. If in formaldehyde, then DNA could not be recovered as DNA is destroyed by it (at my last info).

As far as the question of whether they existed elsewhere, I found no mention in literature of the possibility… BUT, that does not mean there absolutely was not or is not. The most logical place to start looking for them would be in the waters upstream from Twin Lakes. IF, an historical population of Greenbacks were to be found there now, there would be a possibility that the Yellowfin factor would still exist within them, if my previous supposition is correct. That would take a bit of work I cannot pursue.

There are a very few populations of other endangered (extinct?) trout existing in Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, (Utah? - Nevada?), and Mexico which are at very high risk of becoming extinct (and indeed may now be lost as I type). TU is making an effort, as are a few other organizations, to find a way to save them. CDOW seems to be involved also, but I have seen little news about it over the years.

As I recall, the Greenback was “extinct”, until an isolated population was discovered, above Boulder?, many years ago (60’s?). (Hope this is still accurate info)

Posting this from memory, so it is somewhat suspect… but perhaps it is of interest to someone.
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Old 10-07-2006, 09:38 AM   #6 (permalink)
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if i remember correctly the yellowfin cutts were a lake adapted strain and were only found in the lake they developed in i think there is or was another on that was similar i think it was a lahotin cutt or something like that the strain developed when the lake was formed and traped the original cuts and some started to capitolize on the lake more than others
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Old 10-07-2006, 12:44 PM   #7 (permalink)
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the lahontin cutthroat is found only pyramid lake, about 35 miles NE of reno nevada. they grow huge in that lake, 5 to 10 lb fish are the norm. i fished that lake over 45 years ago. we only fished one day from shore, and caught 2 fish about 10lbs ea. the lake is on an indian reservation, so you have to git your permit from them. i understand it is very costly now. as i recall at that time it was $3.oo per day,and the limit was 2 fish. the people who fished from a boat were gitting fish that topped 20 lb quite often. i haven't talked to anyone who has fished it in the last 20 years, but the last i heard the indians found that the white eyes will pay great amounts to git a fish that big.
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Old 10-09-2006, 09:17 AM   #8 (permalink)
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The Yellowfin specimins have not been lost, and Bob Behnke has re-examined them in the last decade as part of his reserach related to the his publishing of Trout and Salmon of North America. He re-affirmed his belief that Greenbacks and Yellowfins are district subspecies.

Lahontan Cutthroats are not limited to Pyramid Lake. They exist in other lakes and streams in the Great Basin, though thier distribution is very limited. The Deep Creek Range in Eastern Nevada/Utah holds some remnant populations that were deemed genetically pure and their genes will be gradually mixed with Pyramid Lake fish, and then stocked in their historic range
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Old 10-09-2006, 05:07 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Where might I find more info on Mr. Behnke's work? I am interested in the subject.
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Old 10-09-2006, 09:19 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Yellowfin Cutthroat

This is a really excellent thread, one of the best quality the fishing forum can bring out, and I'm delighted to see it.
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