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The scientific name of the cutthroat trout is Oncorhynchus clarkii. Cutthroat trout were the first New World trout encountered by Europeans when in 1541, Spanish explorer Francisco de Coronado recorded seeing trout in the Pecos River near Santa Fe, New Mexico. The species was first described in the journals of explorer William Clark from specimens obtained during the Lewis and Clark Expedition. These were most the westslope cutthroat trout (O. c. lewisi). As one of Lewis and Clark's many missions was to describe the flora and fauna encountered during their expedition, cutthroat trout were given the name Salmo clarkii in honor of William Clark.

The most diverse trout species in North America, the historical distribution of cutthroat trout covers the broadest range of any stream dwelling trout in the Western Hemisphere. The rugged topography of their range has lead to isolation, which in turn has given rise to fourteen recognized subspecies.

The cutthroat trout is the state fish of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, while particular subspecies of cutthroat are the state fish of Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah.

At maturity, different populations and subspecies of cutthroat trout can range from 6 to 40 inches (15 to 102 cm) in length. Sea-run forms of coastal cutthroat trout average 2 to 5 pounds (0.9 to 2.3 kg).



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