primary coldwater fish in our region

Source:  Joe Tomelleri ©

Source: Joe Tomelleri©

Brown Trout

  • The original range of the brown trout reaches from northern Norway and the White Sea tributaries of Russia south to the Atlas Mountains of North Africa.

  • The Brown trout has been stocked in 45 states in the US. There is a self sustaining population in 34 of the 50 states.

  • Brown trout are not considered to be endangered. However, individual populations can suffer from habitat degradation and poor land management and water management practices.

  • Their preferred water temperature range is 56-66 degrees F. They can tolerate warmer water than many other trout, but still need cold oxygen-rich water to thrive.

  • Spawning season generally begins in October and runs into December.

  • Brown trout are generally less active during the day and are often concealed in cover.

  • Brown trout are carnivorous, and in many systems, they prey predominately on invertebrates. Fish become an increasingly important component when fish are around 14 inches.


    Sources: USDA Forest Service

Local Rivers and Streams
Animas River
Florida River
Pine River
San Juan River
Piedra River
Hermosa Creek


rainbow Trout

Source:  Joe Tomelleri ©

Source: Joe Tomelleri©

  • The native range of the rainbow trout is a fairly narrow band along the western coast of North America, from the southern tributaries of Alaska’s Kuskokwim River in the north to the mountains of northern Mexico in the south. On the other side of the Pacific, the range includes the Kamchatka Peninsula and surrounding waters

  • The rainbow trout has been introduced to every continent except Antarctica.

  • Spawning season for rainbow trout occurs in the spring.

  • The temperature tolerance of rainbow trout is from 32 to 70 degrees F. Their ideal range is between 55 and 60.

  • Rainbow trout prefer streams with gravel bottoms and natural cover. They will hold in faster currents than brown trout, including riffles and heavy pocket water.

  • Rainbows do not spawn in lakes, so self-sustaining populations require tributaries with gravelly bottoms for natural reproduction. They always try to return to spawn in the same part of the river that they were hatched.

  • Rainbow trout are less pisciverous than brown trout, so they are more likely to rise to a dry fly or take a nymph. Even as they grow larger, they continue to feed heavily on bugs.

    https://forum.americanexpedition.us; Orvis

    Local Rivers and Streams
    Animas River
    Florida River
    Pine River
    San Juan River
    Piedra River
    Hermosa Creek
    Cascade Creek


Colorado Cutthroat

Source:  Joe Tomelleri ©

Source: Joe Tomelleri©

  • The Colorado River cutthroat is considered by most experts to have evolved from the Yellowstone cutthroat based on geographical isolation.

  • CRCT are spring spawners, although low water temperatures at altitude can push spawning back as late a July.

  • They are opportunistic feeders, focusing mostly on aquatic and terrestrial insects. The relative scarcity of food at high altitudes means they often eat in the middle of the day and are not choosy, as well.

  • Colorado River Cutthroat trout now inhabit somewhere between 11% and 16% of their original range. To compound the problem, the dwindling numbers of CRCT were replaced with non-native species, such as brook, brown, and rainbow trout, which outcompeted the natives, driving the CRCT from much of its range.

  • The upper reaches of Hermosa Creek serve as a good case study of a CRCT recovery program. In the early 1990s, Colorado Parks and Wildlife used rotenone to remove all nonnative species and restocked stocked genetically pure CRCT in native habitat without the threat of competition.

  • Because they live mostly at high altitudes, where the growing season is short, CRCT often don’t grow very large.

  • When fishing, stock your fly box with terrestrials as well traditional mayfly and caddis patterns. Standard nymphs—such as Hare’s Ears, Pheasant Tails, and Copper Johns—in appropriate sizes will work as well.

Source: Orvis


Local Rivers and Streams
Hermosa Creek
Cascade Creek


Rio Grande Cutthroat

Source:  Joe Tomelleri ©

Source: Joe Tomelleri©

  • The Rio Grande cutthroat trout is native to streams in the Rio Grande Basin inhabiting only about 10-15% of it’s original range in a few areas of southern Colorado and Northern New Mexico.

  • The Rio Grande Cutthroat trout is the Southernmost member of the cutthroat species.

  • The historic range of Rio Grande cutthroat trout has been reduced over the last 150 years due to drought, water infrastructure and habitat changes, hybridization with rainbow trout and other species of cutthroat trout, and competition from brown trout and brook trout. 

  • Since cutthroat trout are more sensitive to water quality conditions than most other species of fish, they serve as bellwethers for assessing the harmful effects of logging, road-building, mining and energy development on water quality

  • As a result of ongoing management activities, the range-wide abundance and distribution of Rio Grande cutthroat trout appear to be stable, and the security of the subspecies has greatly improved over the past four decades.

  • Because of the habitat they live in - high mountain environments - they tend to be opportunistic feeders like other cutthroat species.

Source: USDA Forest Service;