Golden Trout, Oncorhynchus mykiss aguabonita

The Golden Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss aguabonita) is a subspecies of the Rainbow Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss). It is also known by the name California Golden Trout and is native to Golden Trout Creek, Volcano Creek and the South Fork Kern River in California. It is most likely found at elevations 10,000 feet above sea level. This subspecies is also commonly placed with other subspecies of rainbow trout known as redband trout.

The Golden Trout has flanks with a red, horizontal band along the lateral line and ten dark oval “parr” marks on each side. The dorsal, lateral and anal fins all have white leading edges. Adults range from 6 to 12 inches long and those over 10 inches are considered large. Golden Trout that have been introduced into lakes have been recorded to grow to 11 pounds. The largest Golden Trout on record was caught in 1948 form Cook Lake in the Wind River Range. It was 28 inches long and weighed 11.25 pounds.

The Golden Trout is close to being designated as a threatened species due to overexploitation, mismanagement and competition with exotic species that have been introduced into its native habitat. Introduced Brook Trout out-compete them for food. Introduced Brown Trout prey on them and introduced Rainbow Trout hybridize with them, damaging their native gene pool. The Golden Trout has been declining in population for several decades. As a result, the California Dept of Fish and Game signed an agreement with federal agencies in 2004 to work on restoring the habitat. Golden Trout have also been introduced into other waters in Nevada and Arizona to help restore populations.

Golden Trout were introduced into the mountain streams of New Mexico in the early 1960s by then-Colonel Chuck Yeager and Bud Anderson, where they can still be fished to this day. In his second autobiography, Press On, Yeager details his annual fishing trips to catch golden trout which he extols as one of the best game fish and best eating fish to be found.

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