What happens after you catch a fish? Well keeping the little guy or catch-and-release is another blog post, but it might be helpful to know what kind of fish you’ve caught first. I am HORRIBLE at identifying fish. My boyfriend quizzes me at random all the time. In fact, just last night as we were waiting for our table at a restaurant for a romantic Valentine’s date, he pulled out his phone and started asking me, “what kind of fish is this?” Though, I am improving most of the time it’s a lucky guess.
I’m hoping this post will serve as a sort of study guide for myself as well as for my readers.
These are all of the parts of a fish that you should look at when trying to identify what species it is:
Now, I am from Wyoming and I mainly fish in Wyoming, so this post is geared towards Wyoming fish identification, but these fish are in other states as well.
(All information is taken from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department)
- Rainbow Trout
Uniform black spots White tips on fins Distinguished from cutthroat by the presence of white tips on fins Distinguished from kokanee by 11 anal fin rays versus 13 to 15 for kokanee May have faint red or orange slash on lower jaw
- Bonneville Cutthroat Trout
Body is greenish yellow to silvery gray Red to orange slash under jaw Spots are large, round and sparsely scattered, uniformly distributed Distinguished from rainbows by the lack of white tips on fins Distinguished from other cutthroat by its duller colors and uniform distribution of spots
- Snake River Cutthroat Trout
Body is brownish yellow with dull silvery, green or bronze tints Spotting profuse and of very fine spots covering the body except the belly, which is white Red or orange slash under lower jaw Distinguished from other subspecies by its profuse fine spotting Distinguished from rainbow trout by its lack of white tips on its paired fins
- Colorado River Cutthroat Trout
Body is bright, golden yellow with a brassy green back, the most colorful Wyoming cutthroat Large spots distributed uniformly on body and caudal fin, which can be rectangular in shape on the caudal peduncle Adipose fin usually has a black border Orange tint along belly Red or orange slash mark under jaw Distinguished from other cutthroat subspecies by is bright colors and large spots Distinguished from rainbow trout by the lack of white tips on fins
- Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout
Yellowish brown, silvery or brassy bronze, becoming paler toward the belly Spots medium in size, conspicuous, rounded and often concentrated towards caudal fin Red or orange slash under lower jaw Crimson blush on gill plate Distinguished from rainbow trout by the lack of white borders on its paired fins Distinguished from other cutthroats by its large black spots concentrated toward the caudal fin and its drab colors
- Brook Trout
Light spots on a dark background Some red or pink spots with blue halos concentrated on lower half of body Lower fins and tail have striking white border offset by black
- Golden Trout
Green or olive in color about a bright red lateral band with bright yellow to brilliant read on the lower sides and belly Large, round black spots, concentrated on the caudal peduncle and fin and its dorsal fin Distinguished from cutthroat trout by its borders of white on its paired fins Distinguished from rainbows by its smaller scales and spotting only on the posterior part of its body
- Lake Trout
Light-colored spots on a dark background Deeply forked tail Distinguished from brook trout by a deeply forked tail and absence of red or pink spots
- Brown Trout
General lack of spots on the tail Light colored “halos” around the dark spots May have some red or orange spots Orange tint along belly Small scales Distinguished from brook trout by dark spots on a light background versus light spots on a dark background for brook trout
Large dorsal fin Distinguished from trout by the coarse scales and large dorsal fin
Take the WGFD Fish Identification Quiz HERE!