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Cutthroat Trout

Idaho State Fish

Cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii); illustration by Robert W. Hines / USFWS Digital Library: Cutthroat Trout.

Official State Fish of Idaho

The cutthroat trout was designated the official state fish of Idaho in 1990. Many states recognize species of trout as state symbols because they can only live in water that is cool, clean, and pure. All State Fish

There are two species of cutthroat trout native to Idaho; the Westslope cutthroat (found in north and central Idaho) and the Yellowstone cutthroat (found in southeastern Idaho). Cutthroat trout are named for the distinctive red to orange slash under the lower jaw. The scientific name (Oncorhynchus clarki) references William Clark (of the Lewis and Clark expedition), who first described the cutthroats of the Columbia River.

Idaho Code, Section 67-4508

"It is the sense of the legislature that the Cutthroat trout is the fish best representing all Idaho waters and anglers. The Cutthroat trout's historic significance as the first of the salmon or trout in Idaho and as a key resource for early Idahoans makes this fish an important part of Idaho's natural heritage. This fish's sensitivity to changing and degraded environments and its value as a sport fish for Idaho anglers makes it an ideal barometer for the quality of life. Dramatic declines in recent history highlight problems in natural environments and resource management. Recognition as the state fish can help build the public awareness and support necessary for thoughtful use of our aquatic habitats and all associated resources. Cutthroat trout can be a symbol of Idaho's natural heritage and high quality environment."