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Lake Cuyamaca

Recreation and Park District

Types of Fish in Lake Cuyamaca

Below are the most common types of fish to be found in Lake Cuyamaca. Please click on a type of fish for more information. 



Trout that live in different environments can have dramatically different colorations and patterns. For the most part, these colors and patterns form as camouflage based on their surroundings and will change as the fish moves to different habitats. Trout in or newly returned from the sea can look silvery, while the same genetic fish living in a small stream or in an alpine lake could have pronounced markings and more vivid coloration; it is also possible that in some species this signifies that they are ready to mate. It is virtually impossible to define a particular color pattern as belonging to a specific breed, however, in general, wild fish are claimed to have more vivid colors and patterns.

Trout have fins entirely without spines, and all of them have a small adipose fin along the back, near the tail. The pelvic fins sit well back on the body, on each side of the anus. The swim bladder is connected to the esophagus, allowing for gulping or rapid expulsion of air, a condition known as physostome. Unlike many other physostome fish, trout do not use their bladder as an auxiliary device for oxygen uptake, relying solely on their gills.


Largemouth Bass

The largemouth bass is an olive-green to greenish gray fish, marked by a series of dark, sometimes black, blotches forming a jagged horizontal stripe along each flank. The upper jaw (maxilla) of a largemouth bass extends beyond the rear margin of the orbit. The largemouth is the largest of the black basses, reaching a maximum recorded overall length of 29.5 inches and a maximum unofficial weight of 25 pounds 1 ounce. The female is generally larger than the male. Average lifespan in the wild is 10 to 16 years.

The juvenile largemouth bass consumes mostly small bait fishcrawfish, and insects. Adults consume smaller fish such as bluegillwormssnailscrawfishfrogssnakes, and salamanders. Largemouth bass usually hang around big patches of weeds and other shallow water cover. These fish are very capable of surviving in a wide variety of climates and waters. They are perhaps one of the world's most tolerant freshwater fish.



The bluegill is notable for the dark spot that it has on the posterior part of its dorsal fin. The sides of its head and chin are a dark shade of blue. It usually contains five to nine vertical bars on the sides of its body, but these stripes are not always distinct. It has a yellowish breast and abdomen.


The breast of the breeding male is a bright orange. The bluegill has three anal spines, ten to twelve anal fin rays, six to thirteen dorsal fin spines, eleven to twelve dorsal rays, and twelve to thirteen pectoral rays.They are characterized by their deep, flattened, laterally compressed bodies. They have a terminal mouth, ctenoid scales, and a lateral line that is arched upward anteriorly. The bluegill typically ranges in size from four to twelve inches, and reaches a maximum size of just over sixteen inches. The largest recorded bluegill ever caught (in 1950) was four pounds, twelve ounces.


There are two different species of crappie, black and white, but they are difficult for even the most experienced crappie angler to tell apart. The species are very similar and can be found throughout the United States. The most reliable method of discerning between the two is counting the dorsal fin spines. Black crappie normally have seven or eight, white crappie usually have six. 


Both species of crappie feed predominantly on smaller fish species, as well as zooplankton and insects. By day, crappie tend to be less active and congregate around weed beds or submerged objects, such as logs and boulder. They feed during dawn and dusk. Crappie are highly regarded pan fish and are considered to be among the best-tasting freshwater fish.


Most catfish are bottom feeders. In general, they are negatively buoyant, which means that they will usually sink rather than float due to a reduced gas bladder and a heavy, bony head. Catfish have a variety of body shapes, though most have a cylindrical body with a flattened ventrum to allow for benthic feeding.  


In addition, channel catfish have taste buds distributed over the surface of their entire body. These buds are especially concentrated on the channel catfish's four pair of barbels (whiskers) surrounding the mouth — about 25 buds per square millimeter. This combination of exceptional senses of taste and smell allows the channel catfish to find food in dark or muddy water with relative ease.


Sturgeon are recognizable for their elongated bodies, flattened rostra, distinctive scutes and barbels, and elongated upper tail lobes. They are unique among bony fishes because their skeletons are almost entirely cartilaginous. They also lack vertebral centra, and are partially covered with five lateral rows of scutes rather than scales. They have four barbels that precede their wide, toothless mouths.


They navigate their habitats by traveling just off the bottom with their barbels dragging along the bottom, or murky substrate. Their projecting wedge-shaped snout stirs up the soft bottom, and they use the barbels to detect shells, crustaceans and small fish on which they feed. Having no teeth, they are unable to seize prey, though larger specimens can swallow very large prey including whole salmon.

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