What affects mountain fish flesh color?

Public High Lakes Forum High lakes discussion What affects mountain fish flesh color?

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    • #81233
      DJH
      Participant

      ” Can someone help me understand what affects the color of trout meat? Is it genetic, environmental or diet influenced?^^ If I bring two cutthroat in for dinner, and one has white meat and the other pink, what can I deduce from this? This ^^is often the case at one of my favorite lakes and I’m curious as to why. Also, how does one identify a montana ^^blackspot CT? Any help would be appreciated.^^ Thanks -Dave”

    • #84587
      Cliff Church
      Participant

      “Good questions Dave, as I’ve wondered about this myself. I was of the mind that it would be almost 100% diet. I work in fisheries and posed this question to one of our bios. Here’s what he said:^^The pigment comes from the diet. All of the pigments are produced by^^plants (phytoplankton) and are then eaten by animals (zooplankton) like^^shrimp which are then eaten by fish. If a fish is fast growing and is^^not eating a lot of shrimp or insects then it will dilute the color. The^^pigments are call carotenoids and are what make carrots red and^^flamingos pink (they eat shrimp).^^^^”

    • #84588
      Brian Curtis
      Keymaster

      “As Salish noted, it is diet that determines the color of trout flesh in high lakes. In our high lakes the primary sources for red flesh are fresh water shrimp and red copepods. You will often see the tiny red copepods floating in high lakes in great numbers and if you don’t filter you’ve probably seen them swimming around in your water bottle on occasion. Rainbow are better able to utilize this tiny food source then are cutthroat. If the fish are only eating insects they will have white flesh. ^^^^Montana Black Spot CT are better known as Yellowstone CT. They are spotted with fairly large spots concentrated on and near the tail and they will often have a yellow or gold overall hue. I have some pictures of several varieties of CT posted here where they can be compared.^^^^http://homepage.mac.com/trailblazer/FishPics/PhotoAlbum2.html”

    • #84589
      Ken McLeod
      Participant

      “I would agree with Brian and Salish, to include however that in some types of environment such as real brackish water a fish will sometimes have an inkish/dark outside color. I will contend that the red flesh is usaually better eating than white in cutthroat (white meated feeding mainly on insects as inspected by me). This however doesn’t seem to hold true in rainbow or for that matter white meated king salmon. And in king salmon I believe it to be genetic such as the Frazer River B.C. white king prize as they call it, or the spring chinook of the Solduc River on the washington Coast (which occasionally have white meat). ^^^^MBS: also have spots on their gill plates and their head area, the spots are usaully larger than other cutthraot have as well. At least the ones I was privileged to catch in high lakes of Washington years ago.”

    • #84590
      Brian Curtis
      Keymaster

      “Trout’s skin color will change to match their environment. The most extreme case that I’ve seen was in a silty river where the fish had almost no color. ^^^^I’m interested in your comments that red flesh is better in CT but not in RB. It has been many years, but I’ve done a couple red vs white fish from the same lake cooked in the same pan blind taste tests. Each time the white flesh fish won. I don’t remember the species. I’m going to have to repeat the tests now and pay attention to species! ^^^^White kings have always been highly sought after (in Alaska, at least. Only more recently down here). I’ve never done a side by side comparison, but I have always wondered if it was novelty or if they really do taste better. Like trout, salmon flesh is white and is colored by diet. In salmon farms they have to use coloring agents in the food to produce red fleshed fish. Like trout, salmon flesh is white and is colored by diet. In salmon farms they have to use coloring agents in the food to produce red fleshed fish. However, McPilchuck is correct that the flesh color in white kings is not due to a difference in diet. They have an extra enzyme that breaks down the carotene in their diet and their flesh remains white.^^^^”

    • #84591
      jackchinook
      Participant
    • #84592
      jackchinook
      Participant

      “Yep, the new guy has already done something wrong!^^^^How’s it going? I’ve surfed through this forum several times without joining in. I’ve found it very interesting and, fortunately, devoid of alot of mindless banter found elsewhere! I’ve been meaning to get involved in the Highlakers and Trailblazers for a long time but I was in college (busy) and in grad school (abroad and even busier) for the last 8 years etc. So now I’m back and intend on getting involved.^^^^Anyways, hello everyone and I’ll make haste to my comment:^^^^Very interesting about the flesh color. I had always known about the shrimp in say salmon in the sw. However, on many an alpine lake trip I’ve seen those red copepods and wondered if they gave red pigment as well. Cool.^^^^To Brian, I had always been under the impression that Montana Black Spots were actually Westslope Cutthroats (Oncorhynchus clarki lewisi) as opposed to Yellowstone cutts (O. c. bouvieri). Which of course are quite closely related but considered genetically and phenotypically different.^^^^Insite is appreciate!^^Michael^^”

    • #84593
      Brian Curtis
      Keymaster

      “Some people do refer to westslope cuts as Montana black spots, most notably Robert Smith in Native Trout of North America.”” ^^^^Locally, though, the term refers to Yellowstone CT. They used to get them directly from the Yellowstone Lake hatchery. The first record we have of “”MBS”” being introduced in a high lake here in WA is 1914 and their consistent use continued through the mid-fifties when the hatchery on Yellowstone Lake shut down.^^^^Welcome back to the northwest!”””

    • #84594
      Ken McLeod
      Participant

      “Brian writes: I’m interested in your comments that red flesh is better in CT but not in RB. It has been many years, but I’ve done a couple red vs white fish from the same lake cooked in the same pan blind taste tests. Each time the white flesh fish won. I don’t remember the species. I’m going to have to repeat the tests now and pay attention to species!””^^^^My conclusion on white meated cutthraot vrs. red meated cutthroat has primarily been based on the white meated TLCT I caught out of Summit Lake (snoh.co.) as the meat was real gritty and didn’t taste very good as compared with other red meated cutts caught elsewhere. I have also run into the same TLCT in other lakes however that weren’t too good either, but those red meated ones were great. On meat in rainbow, both flesh colors seem as good, why I don’t know? Maybe it’s the fat/oil content contained in the meat of that species.”””

    • #84595
      DJH
      Participant

      ” Thanks for the cool information everyone! Those identification pics are great Brian. I have to say that so far, I have liked red meated CT more than white. But apparently there are some lakes where red is not so good. This will require extensive field study 🙂 I have not eaten alot of brookies, I remember them being all white, does this apply to them too? ^^ I just returned from three days at Lenice. Arm is sore. Still have not caught a damn tiger trout yet! The rainbow have alot of fight in em right now. ^^ Once again thanks for the illumination.^^ -Dave”

    • #84596
      Brian Curtis
      Keymaster

      “Yes, this applies to brookies, too. I’ve caught EBs in lakes with shrimp and they have pink flesh. Most of the time when you do find EBs here in WA they have overpopulated the lake. When that happens they depress the available food supply and I’m guessing their diet will have a greater percentage of terrestrial insects that produce white flesh. This last bit is speculation.”

    • #84597
      Dave Weyrick
      Participant

      “DJH^^^^Any surface action at Lenice, or was it a wet line show?”

    • #84598
      DJH
      Participant

      Not alot of surface activity. Almost a full moon. Only consistant bite was real early and real late. No whitecaps and no skeeters! Wet line show.

    • #84599
      BobPfeifer
      Participant

      “Hey Brian, just wanted to note that the rainbows in Blanca were completely washed out too – almost white. very, very pale. Really cool – these fish come to the surface like ghosts.”

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