The Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) recently sent out a press release saying that it would be planting the area’s only native trout, the Lahontan cutthroat trout (LCT), into Lake Tahoe. A plan to release 22,000 catchable LCT over several months was announced, after which the plants began at Cave Rock.
The LCT were raised by the NDOW at the Mason Valley Fish Hatchery in Yerington. This planting is experimental and the fish will be evaluated on their performance, as will angler satisfaction.
According to Kim Tisdale of the NDOW, it will give anglers the chance to catch the native LCT that has not existed in many years. Traditionally, rainbow trout are stocked during the summer months. These LCT stockings will take the place of the rainbow stocks.
The catchable fish are about 9 inches long, according to the most recent press release. Lake Tahoe used to be one of the historic locations for these magnificent trout that would grow to huge proportions. The California state record was caught in Lake Tahoe in 1911 by William Pomin, weighing in at an impressive 31 pounds, 8 ounces.
There are many accounts of people going out of their cabins before breakfast and catching trout along the lake’s shore. LCT is pretty easy to catch in comparison to the non-native brown trout, rainbow trout and mackinaw that were introduced in the early 1900s.
This introduction of non-native fish was the beginning of the end for the LCT. They do not compete well with other species of trout, and planting them is credited for the decline and eventual elimination of the LCT. By 1939, the LCT was extinct in Lake Tahoe.
While these stocks will do little to reintroduce a viable population of LCT back into Lake Tahoe, anglers should be provided with some sport fishing for native fish. This should be a good program for NDOW and the anglers who take advantage of it.
— Bruce Ajari is a Truckee resident and regular fishing columnist for the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza and other area newspapers.