How many spots are on that Cutthroat Trout?

Montana cutthroat, specifically the Westslope Cutthroat, is officially designated as Montana’s state fish. Identified by its bright orange/red slash found directly behind the gills, the cuttie is one of the most revered fish by fly fisherman and is typically heavily spotted on the dorsal side, with the density of spots increasing moving from head to tail. 

Did you ever wonder how many spots were on your average cuttie?  Probably not, but we asked over 100 people at the Backcountry Hunters and Anglers Rendezvous 2021 event last weekend to take a shot at guessing how many were on this beauty:

We counted every last spot.  It took us nearly a half hour to get it right.
For the contest, the person who came closest to the actual number won some free GrizzlyFish merch.  The Price is Right Rules--closest without going over--did not apply (It was remarkable how many people asked!).

Answers were all over the map, ranging from 100 to over 7,000, with the vast majority in the way-too-low three digit range.  There’s over 150 spots on the lower half of the tail alone!

And the answer (for just one side on of this plump 2 pounder), was 1,096 spots.

The winner was Isaac Guess (pictured below on far left), a 7th grader from Missoula, who guessed 1,100, coming to within 4 of the actual number.

Isaac and his squad were uncannily dialed-in to the analysis, all coming within 50 of the actual number. 

From left to right:  Jude Kelly, Odin Berryman and Fin Kelly

Not sure if these boys were quants or just savvy fisherman, or both, but they represented the next generation of Missoula anglers impressively.  Nice job guys!

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