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Discussion Starter · #21 ·
I think the greenback comeback is an awesome story, and I'm sure that it will be around for a long time! But, I'm curious.... Most high-country lakes were not inhabited with fish before people dumped them in there, so can those cutthroats even reproduce successfully up in those high country lakes? Even though they are stocked in their native range, they are just as non-native as 'bows and browns in a lot of the places they've been re-introduced. Not a bad thing, just something to think about.
 

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Hi Lynmack, My experience has been that Snake River Cutts have much smaller spots. The Cutt in your picture looks alot like the ones I catch in the Colorado River drainage. The Greenbacks I have caught seem to be more green and less yellow. No matter what brand of Cutts you catch; they are beautiful fish and live in great places to fish or just take in what God made.
 

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those are some beautiful fish. I just think people should make it a personal rule to release all cuthroat. They aren't that common and anglers should do everything we can to try to pretect them be it, rios, greens colorados or even cutbows.
 

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Just figured I'd share a few cutty pics from this summer:








 

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Damn it Slayer,now everybodys going to the high country and catch all those cutts like they did after your Wyoming post.Those cutts are frikin killer,next year im gonna try some new lakes in the Yampa area.

lyn
 

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I apologize in advance for the length of this post. I have a lot of time on my hands.

Lynmack - Yup hard to define.  If they are indeed native fish and they are east of the Continental divide in the Arkansas or South platte drainages, they should be greenbacks.  Problem is that yellowstones were also stocked all over in this area many years ago, so in some places the fish may be yellowstone, or some mixture of greenback, yellowstone, and potentially rainbow.  If they are West of the divide, they should be Colorado River cutts, except where they have yellowstone or snake river influence from stocking.  Again, the best way to know for sure if what you are catching in specific location is a native cutthroat (and not some hybrid or different subspecies altogether), is probably to contact the area fish biologist, or if on forest land, contact the Forest Service fish biologist for the ranger district.

Greenbacks were taken off the "Endangered" list, and placed on the "Threatened" list, both different categories under the endangered species act.  If a species (or subspecies) is listed as endangered, it is nearly impossible to get approval to harm any individuals, even if you can produce them in a hatchery, and need to kill some for studies to determine how to best help them survive.  The upgrade to "Threatened" allowed a management plan to be put in place whereby research could be conducted and some recreational Catch and Release fisheries could be allowed in order to foster public awareness and appreciation for the threatened fish and thereby also foster public support for conservation efforts (which have been very successful for greenback cutthroats).  Indeed, greenback successes and failures have taught fish biologists a lot about how to go about restoring native stream salmonids.

Most of the remote lakes where fish are stocked do not have spawning poulations, but some do.  The fish you catch in many of the remote lakes, at high elevation, do not have suitable inlet or outlet streams for spawning (don't get warm enough for sufficient development of eggs laid by cutthroats in the spring).  I didn't mean to imply that remoteness was a problem for managers.  It's what they prefer, because it makes a population less susceptible to tamping by non-managers who may not share the same goals as the agencies.  Agency goals are to produce populations that naturally reproduce and sustain themselves without stocking.  Numerous populations maintained only by stocking are not considered successful populations, because raising fish in hatcheries breeds out some of their wild qualities.

I am interested mostly in stream populations, because most of the populations in Colorado were originally in streams before we created a bunch of reservoirs and ponds through the watersheds to store and divert water to Denver and other municipalities and for farming.  For this reason, most of the conservation populations are above barriers in streams that do not have lakes or impoundments other than those created by beavers, which are highly beneficial to trout because beaver ponds help warm stream segments that might otherwise be too cold for fish to successfully reproduce and recruit.

Basshunter - it's true that the "native" cutthroats may not have previously been native to a lot of stream segments and lakes where they are now being placed, but if we are going to have these native fish and require a given number of populations to remove them from endangered and threatened consideration, these waters are often the only remaining places where new populations can be created.  Nowadays, fisheries managers try to stock only fish that can be verified as genetically pure fish (not influenced by rainbows or yellowstone cutts), that are native to the drainage where the new population is being created.  For example, native cutthroats would perhaps be technically non-native to a stream segment above a waterfall barrier where they are introduced, but formerly native to the system downstream of the waterfall (where nonnative fish now dominate).  So, on your point that they are just as non-native as rainbow and brown trout in some of the streams,  I would have to disagree.  Brown trout aren't even native to the Americas, afterall, and Rainbow trout are only native to West Coast waters.  It's not the same thing as taking rainbow trout from the Columbia River, and putting them into the Poudre.

 
The greenback puts fish within their native drainage.  Same for Colorado River and Rio Grande cutthroat management plans.  Sometimes these efforts require removal of a population of nonnative trout, and this can lead to conflict with angler groups that fish in certain streams, but using fairly remote streams is how management agencies attempt to minimize these conflicts, and preserve existing angling opportunities while restoring the native trout.  This kind of management is not possible for all endangered fish and becomes particularly difficult when the fish needing conservation is not one that anglers care to fish for.  Fortunately for native cutthroats, they are fun to catch.  You have the added bonus of knowing this is a fish that is in many cases supposed to be there.  You are experiencing something similar to what the first settlers experienced when they fished the same streams.

C&R is generally a good policy for cutthroats, I think.  Of course, if you know for sure what you're catching is a snake river or yellowstone cutt, I wouldn't have a big problem if you wanted to taste it's delicious flesh - afterall, they were stocked from elsewhere.

Slayerfish:  Beautiful cutts.  Colorado River subspecies?  If more people knew they were that beautiful, I think more people would support native cutthroat conservation. 
 
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