Species of Fish in Wyoming
An introduction to cold-water sport fish in Wyoming
by Karen Christopherson
|Cutthroat Trout||the official state fish|
|Rainbow Trout||the main fish stocked in Wyoming|
|Golden Trout||a beautiful fish|
|Brown Trout||abundant throughout Wyoming|
|Brook Trout||a very prolific fish|
|Lake Trout||the largest trout|
|Kokanee Salmon||the land-locked Sockeye|
|Mountain Whitefish||another native|
All drawings on this page are by Michelle LaGory and provided courtesy of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, with permission.
Named official state fish of Wyoming in 1987The Cutthroat (Oncorhynchus clarki) deserves to be state fish, as it is the only trout that is native (indigenous) to Wyoming. It has a crimson slash on either side of the throat, below the lower jaw. Most cutthroat are not found in their original range due to competition from the non-natives, over-fishing, and habitat loss. The subspecies found in Wyoming include the Colorado River, Bonneville (Bear River), the Snake River and Yellowstone. They spawn in the spring.
Wyoming has a program to promote education about cutthroats called the "Cutt-Slam". To learn more about this program, click here.
Colorado River Cutthroat
Snake River Cutthroat
Where to find them: Drainages west of the Continental Divide, plus Madison, Yellowstone, Snake, and Big Horn Rivers.
The Rainbow (Oncorhynchus mykiss) is identified by a reddish stripe running down the side of the fish, dark green fins, and by black spots. They are native to the Western U.S. and were introduced to Wyoming in the late 1800's.They spawn in the Spring.
Record: The Wyoming record for catching a Rainbow was in 1969 in Burnt Lake, Sublette County. The fish weighed 23 lbs and was 35 1/2 inches long.
Some fishing spots for Rainbow: almost anywhere - they prefer cooler waters, both high-mountain lakes and fast-running rivers.
Golden Trout - a beauty of a fish
The Golden Trout (Oncorhynchus aguabonita) was introduced to Wyoming from California. This fish is known for its great coloring - a red lateral band divides the upper greenish section from the lower gold portion. The top and tail are covered with black spots. They spawn in the late Spring or early Summer.
Record: The Wyoming record for catching a Golden was in 1948 in Cook Lake, Sublette County. The fish weighed 11 lbs, 4 oz. and was 28 inches long. This is also recognized as a world record.
Some fishing spots for Goldens: high lakes in the Wind River Mountains
Brown Trout - abundant in the rivers
The Brown (Salmo trutta) was introduced to Wyoming, and is native to Europe and Western Asia. It's identifying marks are black spots, and reddish orange spots inside of light blue circles. They spawn in the fall.
Record: The record Brown caught in Wyoming was 25 lbs., 13 oz., 34 1/4 inches long, caught at Anvil Draw, Flaming Gorge Reservoir in 1982.
Where to go: Most of the cold-water lakes and streams in Wyoming
Brook Trout- a very prolific fish
The "brookie" (Salvelinus fontinalis) can basically outbreed the other species of fish, helped by its fall spawning. They are native to Canada and the Eastern U.S. Their body is dark, with red and white spots within bluish circles. The pectoral, pelvic and anal fins can be orange, with black and white edges.
Record: The record Brook caught in Wyoming was in 1976, weighing 9 lbs., 11 oz., 24 1/2 inches long, at Green River Lake, Sublette County
Where to find them: In small lakes and streams above 10,000 feet and in some lower elevation locations.
Lake Trout - the largest trout
The Lake trout, or Mackinaw, (Salvelinus namaycush) were introduced in 1890. They can live up to 20 years. They are native to Canada, Alaska and the Great Lakes . They spawn in the fall. They have irregular white spots on their dark bodies. They prefer deeper water, but will feed in shallower waters during spring and fall. Their tail fin is deeply indented.
Record: The Wyoming record is 50 lbs, 46 inches long, caught in 1983 at Jackson Lake, Teton County.
Where to find them: Deeper, cold-water lakes such as Flaming Gorge and Buffalo Bill Reservoirs; Beartooth, Fremont, and Jackson Lakes
Kokanee Salmon - the land-locked Sockeye
Kokanee (Oncorhynchus nerka) are native to west coast lakes of North America. They are most abundant in some of the larger reservoirs and lakes in the southern part of the state. Most of the year, they are bluish-green with silver sides; males have no spots. In the fall, the females turn to a red, grey, and white color. The males change color to deep red. His mouth becomes hooked, and back arched. Kokanee are often eaten by larger fish and feed on plankton.
Record: The record Kokanee caught in Wyoming was in 2002 at Flaming Gorge Reservoir, weighing 6.04 lbs, 24.0 inches long.
Where to find them: Flaming Gorge Reservoir; Fremont, Granite and Boulder Lakes
The Mountain Whitefish (Prosopium williamsoni) is indigenous to some Wyoming rivers. It spawns in the fall. It's mouth is smaller than a trout's, making angling more difficult.
Record: The Wyoming record for a whitefish was in 1977, weighing 4 lbs., 4 oz., 21 inches long, and caught on the Snake River, Teton County
Where to find them: Green, Snake, and Clark's Fork Rivers