Rainbow Trout,Oncorhynchus mykiss gairdneri(Richardson). (Fig. 8.1) Other than the Paiute Trout, the Rainbow Trout is the only trout species in the White Mountains that is native to California. It may be distinguished from the other species by its generally silvery appearance and profusion of spots, including a spotted tail. It also commonly has a reddish lateral band extending from head to tail. However, look for the spotted tail as the definitive characteristic. None of the other trout species in the White Mountains has a heavily spotted tail.
Eastern Brook Trout,Salvelinus fontinalis(Mitchill). (Fig. 8.2) Although called a trout, the Eastern Brook Trout is actually a char. It is native to the eastern United States and was brought to California many years ago. It has been introduced widely throughout the Sierra Nevada and occurs in several streams in the White Mountains.
Eastern Brook Trout are generally olive green with light spots on the sides. They may be distinguished from the trout species by vermiculations, or wavy lines, along
the back from head to tail. They also have distinct white borders along the anterior margins of the ventral and anal fins.
Paiute Cutthroat Trout,Oncorhynchus clarki seleniris(Snyder). (Fig. 8.3) The Paiute Cutthroat Trout, which is native to the Great Basin, was introduced into the North Fork Cottonwood Creek in 1946 in one of the first recorded efforts toward species preservation in California. It has survived in Cottonwood Creek in limited numbers, but the North Fork is closed to angling to ensure its protection. The Paiute Cutthroat Trout evolved through geographic isolation from the Lahontan Cutthroat Trout, Oncorhynchus clarki henshawi (Gill and Jordan), in upper Silver King Creek, Alpine County.
This trout normally has an overall purplish hue, which distinguishes it from the other trout species in the White Mountains. It also has very few (if any) spots and possesses the distinctive reddish cutthroat marks under the jaw.
Brown Trout,Salmo truttaLinnaeus. (Fig. 8.4) The Brown Trout, a native of Europe, was brought into California many years ago and eventually found its way into the White Mountains. It is common there, especially in the lower stream areas. It is an excellent game fish and is sought after by anglers, especially fly fishermen.
The Brown Trout is usually dark or olive brown on the back and golden brown on the sides. It generally has red spots surrounded by a halo on its sides. It may have spots on the tail, but they are sparse in contrast to the profusion of tail spotting present in Rainbow Trout.