California Golden Trout

Type:
Fresh Water
The golden trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss aguabonita) is a California species that was introduced in Montana in 1907. There are currently about 20 golden trout populations in the high mountain lakes of western and southcentral Montana. They provide a unique opportunity to catch a beautiful fish in a pristine environment. Golden trout up to 4 pounds have been caught in Montana but typical size is usually 6-12 inches. Golden trout are spring spawners and can usually be found in inlet or outlet streams to high mountain lakes around the Fourth of July. Like other mountain lake trout species, they are opportunistic feeders, surviving off a variety of aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates.
 
Fishing Waters
Born of the spring snowmelt from Mount Dana and Mount Lyell, the Tuolumne starts in Yosemite National Park and runs for over fifty miles before entering the Stanislaus National Forest ... moreand public land managed by the Federal Bureau of Land Management. Flowing through some of America’s most glorious scenery, its whitewater rapids require respect as well as permits before entering its turbulent rifts. If you choose to float the river, the optimal time is between May and September. Water levels vary according to releases made by the Hetch Hetchy Water and Power agency as they manage the dam. Permits can be obtained from the Stanislaus National Forest’s Groveland Ranger District Office or by visiting the US Forest Service website.

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Averill Harriman, then Chairman of the Union Pacific (UP) Railroad, returned from Europe in 1935 impressed by the spread of luxurious ski resorts throughout the Austrian, Swiss and ... moreFrench Alps. Anxious to expand markets for his own trains, he set out to build American’s first high-end ski area near an existing UP railhead and hired Count Schaffgotsch, a famed Austrian skier, to scout the ideal location. The Count recommended Sun Valley as the perfect site, but there was a problem – the season was short, running only from December through April. In an effort to create an all year playground, Harriman invited Ernest Hemingway to hunt and fish from his lodge. Hemmingway loved it, wrote about it and encouraged his friends to join him and his son Jack as they hunted and fished along Silver Creek. Harriman’s Introduction of Hemingway to the environs succeeded, firmly establishing the valley’s reputation as a sportsman’s paradise.

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In the early 1960’s the property was sold to a developer, and fortunately for fishing enthusiasts, the surrounding area including Silver Creek, was part of the transaction. When the property was again for sale in the mid 1970’s, Jack Hemingway stepped in and helped facilitate the purchase of the land by the Nature Conservancy, permanently insuring its preservation. Silver Creek is an ecological anomaly as it is part of a high-desert, cold spring system formed from underground aquifers and unlike typical freestone rivers, tends to maintain consistent temperature and water levels. These consistent conditions yield rich nutrients and provide model waters for trout to live in and thrive. Browns typically range from 14-16 inches although 17-20 inchers are not uncommon. Rainbows found in backwater sloughs can range from 22-24 inches. The creek is approximately 70% rainbow, 30% brown.

Several smaller feeder creeks with clean, gravel stream bottoms provide the breeding grounds for Silver Creek. Despite the fact that the browns and rainbows found today in Silver Creek are not indigenous, they have flourished and the Creek has not been re-stocked since the 1975. Ironically, native cutthroat trout are no longer present in the Creek, although the river continues to support a variety of other wildlife including songbirds, shorebirds, cranes, bald and golden eagles, mule deer, elk, coyotes and a rare mountain lion.

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