1. Native Waters
California golden trout are native to only two stream systems east of the Kern River: the South Fork Kern River and Golden Trout Creek. Due to continued stocking efforts and other forms of transplant over the last century, they can also be found in watersheds around the Sierra Nevada. Outside of California, these trout may be found in alpine lakes throughout Montana, Wyoming, and Utah.
2. From Coffee Can to Creek
In 1876, a baker’s dozen of golden trout were stashed in a coffee can and transported to Cottonwood Creek. Colonel Sherman Stevens traveled four miles with the fish over the Hockett Trail because he wanted the fish to be at his sawmill. Even though no fish were to be found in the creek prior to their introduction, the trout species managed to flourish.
3. Recent Record
Five-year-old Caroline May Evans recently caught a 2-pound golden trout making her the current holder of the IGFA (International Game Fish Association) Female Smallfry Record for the species. She was fishing an alpine lake in the Wind River Range of Wyoming with her parents. Photo courtesy of Evans family.
4. What’s In the Name?
Need a bit of an explanation on why this trout’s scientific name is such a mouthful? We’ve got you covered. The name Oncorhynchus mykiss aguabonita can be broken down accordingly:
- Oncorhynchus – ‘Onkos’ is Greek for hooked and ‘rynchos’ translates to nose. When the fish are spawning, the jaws are known to hook and overlap. Pacific salmon and true West trout share this genus.
- Mykiss – ‘Mikizha’ is the Russian word for the Kamchatka rainbow trout, a closely related species.
- Aguabonia – The species was first identified near Agua Bonita Falls, where Volcano Creek meshes with Golden Trout Creek before feeding into the primary fork of the Kern River.
5. State Fish
The California Golden Trout is the state freshwater fish of, you guessed it, California.
Featured photos courtesy of Dan Towsley @dtowsley