Lake Trout Are Bad News for Yellowstone Lake

It’s a case of trout versus trout, and in the face-off between native Yellowstone cutthroats (Oncorhynchus clarkii bouvieri) and the intruders on the scene, lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush), the judgment handed down is a no-brainer. The lake trout must go.

The problem, explained Pat Bigelow, a fisheries biologist at Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, emerged in 1994 when lake trout were discovered in Yellowstone Lake. Why lake trout were introduced into the lake is a mystery. Perhaps, biologists speculate, some anonymous angler wanted to diversify the fish population in the lake but didn’t think through the consequences. “It’s an example of bucket biology,” said Todd Koel, supervisory fisheries biologist for the park. (Related pictures: Trout vs. Trout in Yellowstone Lake.)

A Yellowstone cutthroat—coppery in color, back peppered with spots, a blush of pink by the gills—is a thing of beauty. But it is outmatched in size and outlived by the lake trout, which weighs in at over 50 pounds (23 kilograms) and can reach the ripe old age of 20-plus years, about twice the span of cutthroats. More to the point, lake trout eat cutthroats.

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  • fliteking

    Not sure why the Gov’t would not put this job out to volunteers with a set of guidelines.

    Blaming fisherman for “bucket biology” is just BS, I know that if someone dug deep they’d find the State or Fed Gov’t stocked these fish years ago . . .

    • celticwaryor

      If you had read the rest of the story, you would know that they HAVE hired commercial fishermen that employ deep water netting techniques.

      • fliteking

        Yes, some of us only have a few minutes a day to read on line . . . having lives / jobs / responsibilities . . . thanks for the insight though.

    • Strangerinmyownland

      Amen, brother.

  • Doc

    I’m gonna need a bigger frying pan.

  • CrustyOldGeezer

    I know that while fishing on Yellowstone Lake in 1954 my Dad caught a 25lb Rainbow and it was a common event for Rainbow that large to be caught.

    Rainbow were common at the fishing Bridge when you could still fish from it.

    • fliteking

      Isn’t it amazing someone from the Gov’t would feel the need to ban fishing from a bridge?

      • CrustyOldGeezer

        If you were ever there in the summer you would know why.

        There were more kids 12 and under on both sides that there wasn’t enough room to drive across it.

        I told them 30 years ago to bypass the Fishing Bridge and they explained there were 10-15 times the numbers of kids than when I was a regular…..

  • That’s how we ended up with spiney rays out west.

  • parlayer

    are the fish being shot prior to being eaten by the other species?? if not, is a “good Kill”

  • Kill the Lake Trout end of story ,,,,,,,,,,,

  • Strangerinmyownland

    The usual suspect in these cases in the fisheries management folks who sometimes have these great ideas and when, as usual, these ideas turn out badly, no one knows anything.

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