On a recent trip to Lucky Peak, I noticed that the Kokanee salmon were running. I expected this. The Kokanee begin running every year in this area sometime in August, but what I didn’t expect were the large schools of Golden Rainbow Trout. It was a pretty picture, the red fish and the gold, gliding through the deep dark waters of Luck Peak.
I’ve seen Golden Rainbows in the Hagerman fish farms but never in an Idaho waterway. I didn’t know anything about the animals, and I was immediately concerned about cross breeding. I was also curious about why Idaho Dept. of Fish and Game would plant them there, in the first place. Did they serve a biological function of some kind?
A quick Internet search told me all I needed to know about the fish. Golden Rainbow Trout are simply an odd color variant of a normal rainbow trout. The story goes that about sixty years ago an oddly colored rainbow was bred for its unique colors - they are as golden as a goldfish. Today, they are bred all over the country. Consequently, if they were to breed with the trout in Lucky Peak they would mostly likely produce a normal rainbow, so much for that concern.
As far as why IDFG decided to plant them, I was stumped. I placed a couple of calls and sent and few emails, and received an answer in a few days. According to Jeff Dillon, Regional Fishery Manager - IDFG Southwest Region, “The commercial hatcheries often have surplus fish, and we sometimes use them in our stocking programs where they are compatible with fish management and/or conservation objectives. In this case Lucky Peak is an area with very few native trout, and a trout and kokanee fishery supported almost entirely with hatchery fish. The "golden" trout provide a little diversity and excitement for anglers, but we would not use these fish in other waters where they might compete or potentially breed with native trout.”
Jeff Dillion is absolutely correct. While I expected to see the brilliant red of the Kokanees, I was completely shocked by the golds. I spent an entire afternoon trying to land one of those beautiful fish. It was exciting.
The “goldens” I saw were clustered around the base of the dam, but they had only been released a few days prior. I am sure they’ve overcome their shock and moved on, but I am just as sure that they are still in the reservoir and would make a great fish story.
Welcome to my Idaho adventure blog!
Hi, my name is Chelle. I am a recent B.S.U. graduate and a lifelong Idaho resident. I have three loves in my life - my family, my writing, and my Idaho. The purpose of this blog is to share my extensive and intimate knowledge of Idaho with you, through my writing. As a woman with a family and a tight budget, I am often forced to make memories for pennies, and I want to take you along for the ride. The adventures I post will, almost always, focus on places or activities that are inexpensive and appropriate for children, without being a snore for adults. Some of the activities I write about are camping, fishing, rock hunting, history, environmental news, hot springs, hunting...Basically, anything Idaho.