Spawning Season for Lahontan Cutthroat Trout - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe News Weather, Video -

Spawning Season for Lahontan Cutthroat Trout

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The Lahontan Cutthroat Trout is Nevada's state fish but at one time, it was on the verge of extinction.

Now after almost seven decades, the fish has made quite a comeback.

For about six weeks between April and May, Nevada Fish and Wildlife and the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe team up to help the fish spawn.

As many as 20,000 of them make their way through the fishery channels.

"Every year, it just amazes me to see the amount of fish that are actually coming up the spawn channels and they just do it naturally," Desmond Mitchell, Lake Operations Supervisor said. "They're actually just here and we just get to help these guys."

Males and females longer than 18 inches are separated until there are 40 of each.

"Usually, our males are a little bit larger and they have more red down the sides, while our females are a little bit more silver and actually carry eggs and their bellies are a little bit more rounded," Mitchell said.

Each female carries about 2,000 eggs, which are removed and placed into a bowl.

"After all the females eggs are out, we're going to grab a male and help fertilize the eggs," Mitchell said.

From there, the eggs are stirred and cleaned.

They are hardened in water that's the same temperature as the lake for about an hour.

"Then after that hour, they're going to be transported from here to the fish hatchery at which they'll stay here until they're reared about three inches," Mitchell said.

While this work goes a long way in growing the fish population, it's also great for fishermen.

The largest fish caught on record here was 41 pounds back in 1925.

Fishermen go to the lake, hoping to catch their trophy fish, adding a huge economic benefit to the Pyramid Lake Tribe.

"With the lake and the fishing and the boating, it provides between a half-million to a million dollars each year," Albert John, Pyramid Lake Fishery Executive Director said. "And it goes into our tribal government."

While the fishery helps fish populations, tribal members say higher water levels at the lake would help the ecosystem even more.

"Basically, what we want to do is get enough water to where the fish can go back into the Truckee River and up to the Lake Tahoe area and be able to spawn up there," John said. 

More than a million fish will be spawned from this process but only half of them are expected to survive. Once it's all said and done, about 600,000 Lahontan Cutthroat Trout will be released back into Pyramid Lake, in December.

Written by Paul Nelson
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