Stocking famed ‘monster trout’

More than 50,000 native Lahontan cutthroat trout are expected to be stocked in the mainstem Truckee River and in Crystal Peak Park in Verdi, Nevada, this year. Pictured here is a  full-grown Lahontan cutthroat trout caught by an angler in Pyramid Lake. Cedit: Dan Hottle/USFWS

More than 50,000 native Lahontan cutthroat trout planned for the main stem of the Truckee River and Crystal Peak Park in Verdi, Nevada this year

By Dan Hottle
June 21, 2018

Biologists from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in cooperation with the Nevada Department of Wildlife, are on track to stock more than 50,000 native Lahontan cutthroat trout into the mainstem Truckee River and in Crystal Peak Park in Verdi, Nevada, this year.

A Lahontan National Fish Hatchery stocking truck pulls into Verdi Pond in Verdi, Nevada, in preparation to stock thousands of native Lahontan cutthroat trout. The stocking is done each year in the Truckee River system. Credit: Dan Hottle/USFWS

The stocking is part of an ongoing effort to increase recreational fishing opportunities and to provide public awareness of decades worth of conservation efforts for the famed “monster trout.”

The Lahontan cutthroat is the state fish of Nevada. The prehistoric-era lacustrine, or lake-dwelling, form of the species resides in Nevada’s Pyramid Lake, the Truckee River and Tahoe Basin. It was conserved and raised from a broodstock at the Lahontan National Fish Hatchery in Gardnerville.

Over the past 20 years, the Lahontan National Fish Hatchery Complex, where the fish are raised, has expanded partnerships with the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe and the state of California to help raise this unique population of Lahontan cutthroat trout.

Every year, tens of thousands of fish are stocked in the Truckee River Basin, so anglers from all over the world can experience the thrill of catching a unique native species.

Reno, Nevada resident Benjamin Harris and his son watch as hundreds of yearling Lahontan cutthroat trout are released into Rock Park in Reno in May. Credit: USFWS

Benjamin Harris, a Reno resident, and his son were lucky enough to witness a recent stocking on the city’s north side Rock Park in late May.

“My son and I had a great time watching these incredible fish being moved from the big hatchery truck into the river,” said Harris. “We appreciate the opportunity the biologists gave us that day to learn more about the Lahontan cutthroat and all the hard work that’s gone into conserving it. My son and I made a lot of great new fishing memories.”

Stocked fish are 8-10-inch catchable yearlings that are transported by truck from the hatchery to ponds and stream locations and released at different points along the 120-mile length of the river system between Pyramid Lake and California’s Lake Tahoe.

A total of 14 locations are being stocked with roughly 40,000 destined for the Truckee River and nearly 12,000 headed for local angling ponds in Verdi and Reno.

A juvenile Lahontan cutthroat trout at Lahontan National Fish Hatchery. Credit: USFWS

“The Lahontan National Fish Hatchery Complex is excited about the ongoing opportunity to collaborate with the Nevada Department of Wildlife to provide native Lahontan cutthroat trout to recreational anglers in the area,” said Lisa Heki, the complex’s project leader. “The re-establishment of this beautiful, unique trout back in its Truckee River home is the result of decades worth of work from our dedicated tribal, state and federal fish biologists who are proud to continue to make the Truckee Basin a world-class native fishing destination.”

Stocking will continue into mid-July, and the hatchery crew hopes to release up to 50,000 new cutthroat before the season winds down.

Fisheries biologists encourage members of the public to visit the Truckee River for a chance to catch a world-class, native trout.

Biologist Erik Horgen releases Lahontan cutthroat trout into Nevada’s Pyramid Lake. Credit: USFWS

For more information about conservation of Lahontan cutthroat trout, visit https://www.fws.gov/lahontannfhc.

Dan Hottle is a public affairs officer for the Reno Fish and Wildlife Office and writes frequently about conservation issues in the Nevada's Great Basin.