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Salmon and trout

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Salmon and trout in King County, Washington and the northwest

Cutthroat trout
Oncorhynchus clarki

Cutthroat TroutCutthroat trout, like rainbow trout, also have an anadromous (or ocean migrating) form. Steelhead and rainbow trout can both spawn more than once, unlike the Pacific Salmon that die after spawning. Cutthroat trout are a favorite catch of fishers in King County. Also, cutthroat are often present in the same streams that Pacific Salmon use for spawning. Many people confuse cutthroat with other salmon species. If you see a salmon, here's some tips to use to determine whether or not it's a cutthroat...

Photos from Inland Fishes of Washington by Whitney and Wydoski, © 1979 University of Washington Press. Reprinted by permission of the University of Washington Press.

Cutthroat Male
Adult Male Cutthroat.

Cutthroat Female
Adult Female Cutthroat.

Identification characteristics:

  • Head blunt, jaw long - extends past eye
  • Small black spots on head & body extending well below lateral line, and on all fins
  • Red to yellow streaks on underside of jaw
  • Faint to no red on sides of spawning fish
  • Length up to 30 inches

Spawn timing:

  • Spawns February through May

Now that you know all about identifying salmon in streams, test yourself! Click on the mystery fish page to find out more!