Valley hatchery helps restore native fish |

Valley hatchery helps restore native fish

An angler holds a freshly-caught Pilot Peak Lahontan cutthroat trout at Pyramid Lake.
Greg Ritland/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The Lahontan cutthroat trout being planted at Lake Tahoe this weekend aren’t just natives, they’re Gardnerville natives.

Some 5,000 cutthroats will be released at Taylor Creek at noon today and Sunday at the Fall Fish Festival and on Monday at Sand Harbor.

Those fish won’t have far to travel as they were all raised at the Lahontan National Fish Hatchery Complex located south of Gardnerville in Carson Valley, according to Project Leader Lisa Heki.

The fish stocked will be identified with a adipose fin clipped. The fish released from Sand Harbor will also receive a floy tag to help the Nevada Department of Wildlife to track their movements.

The Gardnerville-raised fish will be 12-14 inches long and are expected to grow to much larger sizes if history is any indicator.

The hatchery is operated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and has been developing this brood of cutthroats for the past 15 years from stock found at Pilot Peak near the Nevada-Utah border.

DNA for the cutthroats located near Pilot Peak was compared to that from mounted fish at museums caught from 1872-1911 in the Truckee River Basin and found to be descendants of the originals.

The fish grows at about a half inch a month with 6-year-olds reaching up to 24 pounds.

According to the hatchery web site around a third of a million cutthroats are released each year at Pyramid Lake, Walker Lake, the Truckee River, Fallen Leaf Lake and Marlette Reservoir.

This is the first time the fish have been stocked at Tahoe, where they once swam before being overfished to extinction. The last spawning run up the Truckee River from Pyramid Lake occurred in the 1930s.

The hatchery first opened in 1966, according to The Record-Courier and was the first of its kind in Nevada.

Stocking Tahoe is the second milestone year for native cutthroat trout.

Paiute cutthroat trout were restored to their former range on Silver King Creek in Alpine County in early September.

Unlike the Lahontan cutthroats, the Silver King fish were preserved in the upper headwaters thanks to Basque sheepherders in 1912. They are native to the headwaters of the East Fork of the Carson River.

The Paiute cutthroat trout was one of the first species to be declared endangered in the 1967.