Part 2: How to Catch Cutthroat Trout

How To Catch Cutthroat Trout

020305L_Cutthroat Trou tProfile

This handsome boy is always hungry! ***

Depending on where you fish, it’s possible to get a crack at the sea trout that have moved back into fresh water.  Generally, it takes a few years for the fish to mature before they  return to spawn. The adult cutthroats feed and spawn from fall through  spring. They prefer water between 55 and 62 degrees.

These fish, even after years in salt water, have no problem finding their home waters.  They spawn in the months of April through June.

What Cutthroat Trout Eat

By July, the first of the young cutthroats are leaving the gravel nests of their birth.  Always hungry, cutthroats seem to bite everything: lures, flies and live bait!

This branch of the trout family eats lots of insects; fly fishing is a great way to enjoy successful angling.  In Alaska, these fish are the most common trout species in the state.

Younger cutthroats, spend their days in lakes, hiding in and around submerged logs and vegetation.  They rush from their hiding places to snag insects and small fish (they’ve been known to eat other fish, up to  1/4 th their size)!

By the time they reach 14″ in length, they give up this slow process to a meal and turn into predators of smaller fish.

Where Cutthroats Hide

Here are some of the most common ways to catch cutthroats:

  • Looking for trophy size?  In land-locked lakes, troll off of steep shorelines.*
  • Spinners & spoons are great for lakes with deep pools. Fish deeply here & along steep shorelines (with plenty of vegetation).
  • In small inlet streams, use wet or dry flies.
  • The combination of a muddler minnow** and underwater vegetation is a winner for the cutthroat angler.  Make sure your line sinks quickly.


Remember that cutthroats prefer the deeper pools of water; they don’t like extreme water temperature changes (deeper waters remain a more constant temperature).

When fishing deeply, remember that light only penetrates so far down. Use larger lures or bait — so the fish have an easy time finding them.

Please fish responsibly! These beautiful creatures are endangered in some areas.  Check their status in the waters where you plan to fish!

* According to the Alaska Dept of Fish & Game

** Muddler minnows are artificial flies that are very popular.

*** Used by permission of Vantage Point Concepts.  This image is part of the Wild Wings Artwork Collection.


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