Cutthroat trout

General information about cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarki), a cold-water fish species in Alberta.



  • Westslope Cutthroat Trout are named for the bright red-orange streak in the fold under the mouth.
  • Other identifying features for cutthroat trout include small scales and black spots without haloes on the sides.


  • Westslope Cutthroat Trout are native to the mountain and foothill streams of southern Alberta within the Oldman and Bow Watersheds and are one of 14 sub-species of cutthroat Trout.
  • Cutthroat Trout have been introduced into the Ram River west of Red Deer, and a few small, cold streams tributary to the North Saskatchewan, Athabasca and Peace rivers. They are not native to these systems.

Natural History


  • Westslope Cutthroat Trout prefer cold, clean, water, located in our east slopes streams.

Reproduction and Growth

Breeding Behaviour

  • Westslope Cutthroat Trout spawn in the spring, which may be as late as early July in high mountain streams.

Conservation and Management


Native populations of Westslope Cutthroat Trout are classified as At Risk in the current General Status of Alberta Wild Species report. Introduced populations of cutthroat trout are classified as Secure. See:

This species is also classified as Threatened under Alberta's Wildlife Act; protective regulations under this act that apply to fish species are under development. See:

This species is also protected under the Alberta Fisheries Regulations, which regulate fisheries harvest in Alberta.


  • Native stocks of Westslope Cutthroat Trout are in decline in their traditional range due to breeding with introduced populations of rainbow trout and non-native cutthroat trout.

Current management


Cutthroat trout are cold-water game fish subject to current Alberta sportfishing regulations. For details, see the My Wild Alberta website at:

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