California Department of Fish and Wildlife
cutthroat trout

Coastal Cutthroat Trout

Oncorhynchus clarki clarki

The coastal cutthroat is one of the three native cutthroat subspecies in California. The coastal cutthroat is characterized by profuse spotting on the body and the typical red-orange slashes under the jaw. These marks may fade or disappear completely when the fish resides in salt water. Anglers often mistake coastal cutthroats for rainbow trout. In California, the native range of the coastal cutthroat begins near the Eel River drainage and includes drainages north to Oregon and beyond into Alaska. Many of the populations are anadromous, "sea-run" cutthroat. Others are freshwater residents and some travel between the brackish estuaries and the freshwater tributaries. Although much of the native range is still occupied their numbers have suffered declines. In most areas where cutthroat exist, fishing oppotunities have been limited by restrictions to protect anadromous salmonids. There are some waters that feature special regulations for cutthroat, however, so be sure to check the regulations before fishing.