Yellowstone National Park is a place that calls to anglers, wildlife photographers, hikers, climbers and lovers of countless other pursuits from around the globe. It is a place of majestic wilderness whose wild landscapes and inhabitants leave an indelible mark in the memories of those that visit it.
The park is home to three different species of native cutthroat trout, all of which face issues resulting from the introduction of non-native fish species -- such as brook trout, brown trout, rainbow trout and lake trout -- into the park's waters.
The Snake River fine-spotted cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarki sp.) is predictably found in the Snake River drainages that flow through the park.
The Westslope cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarki lewisi), once found in abundance throughout the Gallatin and Madison Rivers, is now almost entirely gone -- existing only in two small creeks that drain into the Gallatin and Yellowstone Rivers.
The Yellowstone cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarik bouvieri), perhaps the best known of the park's cutthroat trout, face constant competition from Lake Trout introduced into Yellowstone Lake. According to the National Park Service, "have the potential to decimate the Yellowstone Lake cutthroat trout population in our lifetime without heightened and maintained management efforts". Anglers that catch Lake Trout within the park are actually required by the park's fishing regulations to kill the fish instead of returning it to the lake unharmed.
Pat Clayton is a wildlife, landscape and outdoor sports photographer living in Bozeman, Montana. He specializes in capturing dramatic underwater images of native trout species. To learn more about Pat and see more of his work, visit his website, FishEyeGuyPhotography.com.