Illustration by Steven Schalla, FlyFishingtheSierra.com, used with permission
As with all cutthroats, check first for the distinct orange-red cutthroat slash below the jaw. The Paiute Cutthroat can be distinguished from other cutthroats by the near absence of any body spots. This is especially helpful in differentiating between Lahonton and Paiute cutthroats whose ranges overlap.
The Lahonton has 50-100 body spots whereas the Paiute rarely has more than 5. The body color of the Paiute is yellowish to light green whereas the Lahonton is coppery to purplish-pink. Hybridized Paiute can have considerable spotting, however. If you find a fish with Paiute coloration and spots, it is likely a hybrid. Pure (and some hybrid) Paiutes exhibit “parr marks” − dark blotches along the sides − which become more distinct in maturity. Golden Trout exhibit parr marks as well, though they are much more pronounced. The average size of these trout is only about 6 inches due to the poor nutrients found within their existing habitat.