We sampled 19 isolated headwater populations of westslope cutthroat trout Oncorhynchus clarki lewisi in Montana to provide estimates of fecundity, longevity, sex ratio, and age at sexual maturity. Fecundity was estimated for 31 fish collected from two streams in the upper Missouri River drainage. Females smaller than 149 mm fork length (FL) were generally immature and their fecundities could not be estimated. Mean fecundities (SD) were 227 eggs (41.1) for 150-174-mm fish, 346 eggs (85.6) for 175-199-mm fish, and 459 eggs (150.8) for 200-mm and larger fish. A linear regression model (two stream samples combined) to predict fecundity (E) from fork length was developed (E = -494.9 + 4.4.FL: r2 = 0.51, P < 0.001) for westslope cutthroat trout in the upper Missouri River drainage. Regression slopes of fecundity against fish length differed significantly (P < 0.01) between these and some of the previously studied populations. Steeper slopes were associated with lacustrine-adfluvial populations. The average sex ratio was 1.3 males per female across all sampled streams. Males began to mature sexually at age 2 and all were mature by age 4. Some females (27%) were sexually mature at age 3 and most of them (93%) were mature by age 5. Length was a better predictor of sexual maturity than age. Males matured at 110-160 mm and females at 150-180 mm FL. The maximum estimated age was 8 years based on otoliths from 475 fish collected from our 19 study streams and 14 additional streams.
Additional publication details
Age at sexual maturity, sex ratio, fecundity, and longevity of isolated headwater populations of Westslope cutthroat trout