Fish are characterized as scaly-skinned vertebrates that swim in water and breathe using gills. They are cold-blooded, meaning that their body temperature is regulated by their environment. Fish also lay eggs.

The Jordan River is home to many different species of native and non-native of fish.

  • Native Species

    The Jordan River was originally a cold-water fishery. However, due to human impact the river no long functions naturally. Introduced species have had both positive and negative effects on the river’s ecosystem. The following are a few Utah native species that continue to call the Jordan River home.

    Catostomus species swimming

    Utah Sucker (Caatostomus ardens)

    Utah suckers are the second most abundant fish species by weight in the Jordan River and are found throughout all parts of the river. It thrives in a variety of habitats in warm or cold water, and over substrates of silt, sand, gravel, or rocks. Though they prefer to be near vegetation.

    They are benthic grazers, which means that they spend the majority of their time at the bottom of the river. They primarily consume algae but will also feed on aquatic insects and crustaceans along the river bed.

    June sucker fish

    June Sucker (Chasmistes liorus)

    Unlike the Utah sucker, the June sucker has a very low population. Until 2021, this species was listed as endangered. You may not see this fish in the Jordan River, but their survival depends heavily on the health of the river ecosystem.

    This fish is endemic to Utah Lake, meaning it is not found anywhere else in the world! It is threatened by predation and competition from non-native fish, particularly carp.

    Bonneville Cutthroat Trout

    Bonneville Cutthroat Trout (Onchorhynchus clarki)

    The state fish of Utah is a survivor. This fish was an important source of food for early Utah inhabitants. They were abundant in the 19th century, but overtime the population dwindled due to overfishing. As numbers went down, other non-native species were introduced. However, this continued the downward trend for the Bonneville cutthroat trout due to competition for resources. After aggressive conservation efforts, the fish has now made a dramatic comeback. While the overall numbers of this fish has increased, it is still rare to spot along the Jordan River.

  • Non-native Species

    After overfishing caused the depletion of native species, non-native fish were introduced to the Jordan River and Utah Lake. The most common species of fish encountered today is the common carp. Historically, the Utah Division of Wildlife resources would regularly stock the river with catfish and rainbow trout.

    Common Carp

    Common Carp (Cyprinus carpio)

    Common carp are so common that they account for the vast majority of the fish by weight throughout the Jordan River. These are large omnivorous fish that eat nearly everything and reproduce rapidly.

    These fish were introduced to the river to support fishing. Due to the high numbers of carp in the river, catching these fish is still encouraged today. However, eating fish from the Jordan River is not recommended.

    Rainbow Trout

    Rainbow Trout (Onchorhynchus mykiss)

    Rainbow trout are perhaps the most popular fish to catch. These fish do well in hatcheries and are adaptable to most environments, making them easy to artificially stock. These fish are also said to be good for human consumption, but eating fish caught from the Jordan River is inadvisable.

    Despite the popularity of the rainbow trout, this species still competes for resources of native fish, and will even hybridize with the Bonneville cutthroat trout.

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