Rainbow trout revival underway in Colorado?
Vail, CO Colorado
ASPEN, Colorado ” For the first time since whirling disease decimated most naturally reproducing rainbow trout populations in Colorado more than a decade ago, a new strain of the sport fish has reproduced naturally.
The breakthrough took place in ponds along the Fryingpan River above Basalt.
A second population of the new cross-breed of trout has spawned successfully in the Gunnison River, according to state wildlife officials, giving rise to the hope that wild, self-sustaining rainbow trout populations will thrive once more in Colorado rivers.
Since the mid-1990s, whirling disease has prevented naturally reproducing rainbows from thriving by wiping out generations of fingerlings.
The new strain, a cross between the Hofer rainbow trout and other trout used for stocking lakes and rivers, appears to be resistant to whirling disease, according to the Colorado Division of Wildlife. Even more encouraging, so are its offspring.
“We’ve pretty much known that the Hofer crosses are resistant, but we finally got actual proof through genetic testing that their fingerlings are, as well,” wildlife spokesman Joe Lewandowski said.
The trout will be checked again the fall to make sure they’ve survived and are continuing to reproduce. The Division of Wildlife plans to breed more of the fish at its hatcheries to stock in Colorado lakes and rivers,, Lewandowski said.
Anglers, though they won’t be able to spot the crossbreeds when they land one in the net, might appreciate the new strain, as well, Lewandowski said.
They seem to get bigger faster, and a wild fish generally is a more wily adversary than their hatchery-reared counterparts.
“Hatchery fish are hatchery fish,” Lewandowski said. “We’re very hopeful we’re going to have real, sustainable trout populations reproducing in the wild.”