Creature Feature: California Golden Trout

CaGoldenTrt CA FW

Last week we talked about California State Marine Fish, the Garibaldi. Today we are going to move out of the salty ocean and into the fresh water rivers to check out the California State Fresh Water Fish, the California Golden Trout.

The Golden Trout, or Oncorhynchus mykiss aguabonita, was established as the state fish in 1947. You will find these native fish in Golden Trout Creek which is a tributary (a fancy name for a waterway that connects to other waterways) to Kern and South Fork Kern River and empties into Lake Isabella in the Southern Sierra Nevadas.

These fish have inhabited many different local freshwater habitats throughout their history. At first, things seemed to be going swimmingly for these trout (pun absolutely intended). The fish were breeding and multiplying and generously tipping their baristas (maybe not that last one.  Ok, we’ll stop making jokes). That is until studies showed that they were hybridizing with the Rainbow trout cohabitants. “So what?” you may inquire. This means that California Golden Trout are not reproducing with others of their own kind and if it continues, could lead to the extinction of this species. Interspecies breeding certainly thins the population but the Golden Trout are also in danger of the predation and competition of the Brown Trout.

One possible solution would be to fix flood structures and other barriers to prevent the Rainbow and Brown Trout from breaking through and mingling with the Goldens. Recently the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Inyo National Forest and the Endangered Species Office signed a Conservation and Strategy Agreement for the California Golden Trout, containing such a solution, among others. This will hopefully help this species to grow and bounce back from the decrease of population.  The Golden State needs its Golden Trout!


Edited by KC O’Shea

Photography: California Fish and Wildlife


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