Category Archives: Stream Fishing

Snake River Cutthroats & The Jackson National Fish Hatchery

Fish hatcheries draw me in like a moth to flame.

If I see one anywhere and there’s an opportunity, I stop by for a visit.

Having done much work with Sea Center Texas, a Texas Parks & Wildlife Department hatchery, I have a deep knowledge of what goes into producing fish that anglers get to enjoy down the line (literally).

Last week when I flew into Jackson Hole from the “Bighorn Bash” ceremony of the National Bighorn Sheep Center in Dubois, I planned to check out the city of Jackson before I flew out.

I saw the Jackson National Fish Hatchery on the way into town.

I was greeted by Paul Rousseau, Head of Fish Hatchery Tours and learned about their amazing work with the native Snake River Cutthroats.

Since getting deeply into flyfishing in 2019, I have done several media projects with the Western Native Trout Initiative and took an interest in cutthroats so this was a fun look at a variety I have not yet caught.

The author usually bring his $49 unbreakable Martin flyfishing combo on all trips. This is him with his first-ever Yellowstone Cutthroat Aug. 2023.

I have caught Yellowstone, and West Slope and a Greenback Cutthroat/Rainbow hybrid called a “Cutbo” but have a long way to go before catching them all.

Check out these baby Snake River Cutthroats.

Trout management is complex with so many different stockings with brown trout from Germany, rainbows’s range extended massively by stocking and ditto for brook trout.

I love the stocking of all of those species but it is important to give native trout equal love.

Any project centered on native cutthroats has my support so this was great to see.

Paul is a great educator and gave me during the limited time I had a great overview of the hatchery.

Paul Rousseau talking about issues facing trout in the region.

Plus, I found out they have a pond filled with cutthroats for public fishing opportunities and of course this was the one trip due to time constraints I did not bring a fly rod.

I won’t make that mistake again!

They are also doing some cutting-edge work on the tiny and endangered Kendall Warms Springs Dace that took a big hit with weather conditions in recent years.

They live in thermal pools and in temperatures that would kill trout.

I got to see some four-day-old Dace in a beaker.

If your’e in the Jackson area, stop by. It’s open year-round and don’t forget there’s a fishing pond.

Anglers can keep one fish per day but of course catch-and-release is the best option.

Education and fishing is a wonderful combo in my world so this place gets a big thumbs up.

I will definitely do a deeper article on their cutthroat work in the spring and maybe a podcast as well.

They are doing great work.

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The True Trout Of Texas

“I wish we had a native trout in Texas.”

As I spoke those words to Therese Thompson of the Western Native Trout Initiative, her reply took me by surprise.

“Well, Texas used to have the Rio Grande cutthroat,” she said.


The only trout I was aware of living on the Gulf Coast-speckled, sand, and Gulf trout, and they are not true trout anyway.

It has spot and sorts of looks like a trout but a speckled trout (spotted seatrout) is not a true trout. That didn’t stop the author from being all smiles when catching this big one on Louisiana’s Lake Calcasieu. (Photo by Chester Moore, Jr.)

They are members of Sciaenidae, not the Salmonidae family.

Then it hit me. In the early years of my career as a wildlife journalist, I remembered coming across a study on this issue, but in the first half of a career spent more in saltwater than streams, it was not a priority.

Now it was.

The Rio Grande cutthroat trout. (Public Domain Photo)

A 1991 study by Gary C. Barrett and Gary C. Matlock called “Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout In Texas” provides conclusive evidence this species of trout once dwelled in certain areas in western Texas.

Historic records provide evidence that Rio Grande cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarki virginalis) were indigenous to some Texas streams. This information includes railroad survey reports and several accounts in a major sporting publication of the late 1800s, including a drawing with color description. Published accounts continued through the mid-1900s, after which man’s activities made these streams unsuitable for trout survival.

The study notes that because of the locations of the populations, the trout would have to have lived and reproduced in Texas, which would make them true natives.

These locations, including the Devil’s River, Lampia Creek, and San Felipe Creek, were spring-fed streams of relatively high flow before human settlement.

Rio Grande cutthroat are stunningly beautiful fish that currently live in New Mexico and southern Colorado.

While they no longer live in Texas, is it possible they could come back with concerted conservation efforts?

The species was part of a discussion on native stream species restoration at a Texas Parks & Wildlife Department hearing in 2014, and there is support for recovery among fly fishers who are aware of the species Texas past.

This story came about through a conversation about the Western Native Trout Initiative, which is a public-private Fish Habitat Partnership that works collaboratively across 12 western states to conserve (protect, restore, and recover) 21 native trout and char species.

Youth in our Higher Calling Wild Wishes Expeditions will be taking part in July to pursue the Yellowstone cutthroat and help raise awareness of this very worthy initiative.

Yellowstone cutthroat trout. (Public Domain Photo)

Sometimes it merely takes talking with someone to change perspective on an issue and open one’s eyes to the amazing wonders of nature.

I’ve caught thousands of speckled, sand, and Gulf trout in Texas waters, rainbows in Arkansas and browns in New York but to catch a Rio Grande cutthroat in their native waters…that would be a whole new experience.

Look for more on native trout, including the Rio Grande cutthroat in the coming weeks and months.

Chester Moore

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