The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) will start releasing Pilot Peak Lahontan cutthroat trout into Truckee area waters to give Sierra Nevada anglers the opportunity to catch some trophy sized trout in a year or two.
Last week CDFW received a shipment of cutthroat trout eggs from the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) Lahontan National Fish Hatchery Complex in Gardnerville, Nevada. This is the second shipment of eggs in the last two years and is part of a joint effort between the USFWS and CDFW to bring a native, trophy sport fish to the Truckee River Basin.
“Anglers have been pulling some amazing, trophy-class Pilot Peak Lahontan cutthroat trout out of Pyramid Lake in Nevada for the last several years, and we really wanted to get this strain of fish for our anglers here in California,” said Jay Rowan, senior environmental scientist for CDFW’s North Central Region Hatchery Program. “Hopefully we will start seeing some really big ones showing up in a few years.”
The Pilot Peak Lahontan cutthroat trout is a lake form of cutthroat trout. This particular strain is native to the Truckee River Basin and is known for their aggressive feeding behavior and large size.
“They are an interesting fish to raise … being wild, they are a little wary, but they seem to take to feed fairly well,” said Steven Schnider, a CDFW fish and wildlife technician. “They are aggressive, so if you don’t separate them when they are young, you will see the bigger fish with tails sticking out of their mouths.”
This piscivorous (fish eating) behavior is what allows the Pilot Peak Lahontan cutthroat trout to grow quickly and to such large sizes. In choosing which waters to plant, CDFW fisheries biologists have targeted waters that have robust bait fish populations.
“We did a survey of anglers in some of the Truckee basin reservoirs back in 2010, and 85 percent of the anglers we interviewed were in favor of CDFW stocking Lahontan cutthroat trout in these waters,” said Rowan. “I think those results were largely driven by the success of Pilot Peak Lahontan cutthroat trout at Pyramid Lake.”
Stocking of the sub-catchable size fish from last year’s eggs will begin as early as next week and will continue as the snow melts and planting trucks can gain access. Lakes to be stocked include Echo, Fallen Leaf, Donner, Boca, Prosser, Stampede and Webber lakes.
The Lahontan National Fish Hatchery Complex is an integrated fishery program that includes the Lahontan National Fish Hatchery, Marble Bluff Fish Passage Facility and Fishery Assistance. The program emphasizes the connection of fishery management with the health of the lake and river habitats upon which species depend.