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'Oncorhynchus clarki seleniris' aka Paiute Cutthroat Trout, in Cottonwood Creek, White Mountains

Oncorhynchus clarki seleniris aka Paiute Cutthroat is on the threatened list (formerly endangered). The images that follow were shot at Cottonwood Creek in the White Mountains of California.

Just approaching a trout feeding like this is really hard. I butt-slide closer to the pool gradually to get these images, which were exceedingly difficult to capture: mottled light, very high shutter speeds yet f/4 or so needed for depth of field, semi-random changes in direction of the trout, timing just the right moment for the trout taking its exceedingly tiny prey, etc. Accurate focus tracking was essential: the D810 performed like a champ, the Sony RX10 III was a useless toy unable to make a single usable image the day prior, so it stayed in the car, these shots all with D810.

I needed a 300mm or 400mm f/2.8, but I had the Nikon 105mm f/1.4E ED, so I made do. These images took 80 minutes of shooting to obtain—and a sore butt and back—I had to remain motionless lest the trout go hide itself. All are severely cropped from the full frame.

I watched this beautiful trout feed for 80 minutes, circulating within its very roomy pool (for Cottonwood Creek). When a fish half its size had the temerity to try to enter the same prime feeding area, this fellow zoomed over to shoo the interloper away—no 2nd attempt was made. It makes sense—the prey is stuff so small I never did see more than the tiny white specks that are its prey. This is a large fish for Cottonwood Creek, about 9 inches.

'Oncorhynchus clarki seleniris' aka Paiute Cutthroat Trout taking tiny bug
f4.5 @ 1/1000 sec, ISO 800; 2016-10-02 14:09:12
NIKON D810 + Nikon AF-S 105mm f/1.4E ED

[low-res image for bot]
'Oncorhynchus clarki seleniris' aka Paiute Cutthroat Trout just after taking bug
f4.5 @ 1/1000 sec, ISO 800; 2016-10-02 14:09:12
NIKON D810 + Nikon AF-S 105mm f/1.4E ED

[low-res image for bot]
'Oncorhynchus clarki seleniris' aka Paiute Cutthroat Trout taking tiny bug
f4 @ 1/800 sec, ISO 400; 2016-10-02 13:20:39
NIKON D810 + Nikon AF-S 105mm f/1.4E ED

[low-res image for bot]
A bugs' worst nightmare
'Oncorhynchus clarki seleniris' aka Paiute Cutthroat Trout
f4.5 @ 1/1000 sec, ISO 800; 2016-10-02 13:45:29
NIKON D810 + Nikon AF-S 105mm f/1.4E ED

[low-res image for bot]
Cruising
'Oncorhynchus clarki seleniris' aka Paiute Cutthroat Trout
f4.5 @ 1/1000 sec, ISO 800; 2016-10-02 13:45:29
NIKON D810 + Nikon AF-S 105mm f/1.4E ED

[low-res image for bot]
Cruising
'Oncorhynchus clarki seleniris' aka Paiute Cutthroat Trout
f4.5 @ 1/1000 sec, ISO 800; 2016-10-02 13:45:29
NIKON D810 + Nikon AF-S 105mm f/1.4E ED

[low-res image for bot]
Swirl after Rise
'Oncorhynchus clarki seleniris' aka Paiute Cutthroat Trout
f5.6 @ 1/640 sec, ISO 800; 2016-10-02 13:50:24
NIKON D810 + Nikon AF-S 105mm f/1.4E ED

[low-res image for bot]
Swirl after Rise
'Oncorhynchus clarki seleniris' aka Paiute Cutthroat Trout
f5.6 @ 1/640 sec, ISO 800; 2016-10-02 13:50:51
NIKON D810 + Nikon AF-S 105mm f/1.4E ED

[low-res image for bot]

I’d bet that this vortex is no accident—it likely helps push prey under water should the trout miss.

Vortex
'Oncorhynchus clarki seleniris' aka Paiute Cutthroat Trout
f5 @ 1/800 sec, ISO 800; 2016-10-02 13:57:42
NIKON D810 + Nikon AF-S 105mm f/1.4E ED

[low-res image for bot]
Snack Ahead?
'Oncorhynchus clarki seleniris' aka Paiute Cutthroat Trout
f4 @ 1/1000 sec, ISO 800; 2016-10-02 13:42:30
NIKON D810 + Nikon AF-S 105mm f/1.4E ED

[low-res image for bot]

The camouflage of a trout is superb for its environment. Spot the trout, and remember it normally is under water much closer to the bottom.

Spot the Trout
'Oncorhynchus clarki seleniris' aka Paiute Cutthroat Trout
f4 @ 1/1000 sec, ISO 800; 2016-10-02 13:38:00
NIKON D810 + Nikon AF-S 105mm f/1.4E ED

[low-res image for bot]
In for the Kill
'Oncorhynchus clarki seleniris' aka Paiute Cutthroat Trout
f4.5 @ 1/1000 sec, ISO 800; 2016-10-02 13:48:25
NIKON D810 + Nikon AF-S 105mm f/1.4E ED

[low-res image for bot]
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