Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Lahontan Cutthroat Trout

Lahontan Cutthroat Trout get their name from the lake they once resided in. Listed as Nevada's state fish, these cutthroat trout are native to tributaries in the eastern Sierra. But competition from rainbow, brook, and brown trout have replaced the Lahontan cutthroat in most of its native range. Lake trout have prevented Lahontan trout from thriving in Lake Tahoe.

Lahontan trout have a similar history to Eagle Lake trout. Both got their name from the lakes they resided in. Both lakes have a high alkaline concentration. Due to changing conditions which led to reduced populations, both trout were thought to be extinct for a while. The California Department of Fish and Game has taken steps to preserve both Lahontan and Eagle Lake trout.

The primary difference is that Eagle Lake trout are rainbows and Lahontan trout are cutthroats.

The Upper Truckee River was sterilized to remove brook trout which were competing with cutthroat trout for food and other resources. After the removal of brook trout, cutthroat trout were replanted in the river in an effort to restore them to their natural habitat and increase population. Today, the Upper Truckee River is one of 6 Heritage Trout waters offering folks a chance to catch Lahontan trout.

Other waters where you can catch Lahontan trout include:
  • Heenan Lake
  • East Walker River Wildlife Area
  • Martis Lake
  • Humboldt River
  • Walker River
  • Quinn River
  • Pyramid Lake (which holds the record for largest Lahontan trout at 41 lbs!)
  • Walker Lake
  • Summit Lake
  • East Fork Carson River
  • McLeod Lake
  • Crowley Lake
  • Slinkard/Little Antelope Wildlife Area
  • Pickel Meadow Wildlife Area
  • Fremont Weir Wildlife Area
Lahontan Cutthroat Trout have also been introduced into Lake Lenore in Washington state.

Although Lahontan trout appear to be making a comeback, they're still listed as "threatened" under the Federal Endangered Species Act. As such, angling is still limited to 'catch and release' in most of these waters.

For more information, visit the Lahontan National Fish Hatchery web.

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