Added Complexity to the Puzzle ( Why Aren’t Rainbows Here? )


The Mystery of the Guano Creek 1929 and 1934 Trout Introduction 


A new lake was created around the turn of the century, at the homestead at the base of ***** Creek, where it (historically) flowed into the open basin, and eventually settled as a lake, in the southern region of what is known as ***** Basin today.

This new impoundment created a lake at the northern end of the basin; tending to capture the flow of the creek before it had time to meander through the flat hot basin in summer.

This yielded a year-round water source, ample for cattle, horses and other utilitarian uses.


In the 20’s and 30’s of the last century, it was common for the new fisheries divisions in the western states to introduce hatchery trout — most often Rainbows of hatchery origins — into streams or lakes that were estimated to have the potential to sustain trout.   And, (I thought,) there was no exception made for this remote new lake created in ***** Basin.

Recent review of regulation change proposals resulted in ODFW’s decision to not alter the two trout per day retention allowance on ***** Creek.  Their response noted that Rainbow trout had been introduced into ***** creek in ’25 and ’31…  So, we inquired as to what was the source for that information  —  and we received a copy of this embedded spreadsheet:

Redacted Stocking Summary

The ODFW Biologist that had put together this spreadsheet was contacted to inquire of the source for the 1925 / 1931 information, and when he’d thought about it, he indicated that he was pretty sure that there was a record (such as it is) of the original stocking, in a file – somewhere in the Hines office.   Credit goes to Shannon Hurn for locating that file for us.

In a file cabinet, in the Hines ODFW office, was a small, faded, manually typewritten, card listing the stocking of 2,000 Rainbow trout in 1925 and again in 1931.  As plain, faded and simple as this card is; it has one feature that stands out, and I thought resolved part of the mystery:

Redacted Stocking 1925 1931

Based on the word (Lake), I thought that it was the lake that was stocked in 1925 and 1931, and that (as most who are familiar with the system are aware) the rocky, barren, waterfall ridden canyon the stream flows from for miles from above this impoundment; plus the middle reach of Guano Creek Marsh (trout cannot normally pass through this clogged marsh) would explain why there are essentially no Rainbows in the system.

Our observation is that it would be extremely difficult for trout to pass through the marsh, though in the event of extreme flooding, as in the mid-80’s, it would be probable that trout could and would be washed down from above, through the marsh, and on down to the lake at the northern edge of the basin.   Indeed—there was a brief period in the 80’s—when this lake became one of the best kept fishing secrets in the region — yielding many sizable trout for just a few brief fruitful years.   It would’ve been interesting to have seen what the trout from this event looked like . . .

However, it has now been pointed out to me that the “(Lake)” refers to the County where the stream resides, and has no reference to the stocking site.

OK, so there is no easy explanation as to why there has been no discernible survival of Rainbow trout in the system . . .  Other than what Dr. Behnke first concluded during their analysis of the system in 2006:  That there must have already been a well established population of cutthroat trout that were already well established in the system, before the introduction of Rainbow trout.  

And now, with the introduction of so many Rainbows in the 20’s and 30’s — this would, ironically, add impetus to the concepts either that A) Trout were introduced at an early date from Trout Creek, and were already well established in Guano Creek, or B) That a strain of resident (Cutthroat—not Rainbow) trout were already established in the creek.

It is hard to find other logical explanations.   True, there was a major drought in the mid-30’s, and this may have “taken out” many of the Rainbows from the system.   Perhaps a blessing in disguise.  But, at this point, it still remains a mystery why/how, so many trout that were introduced into this system show essentially no sign of survival or perpetuation.

Where is a time machine, when it is so needed?   In the meantime, perhaps the best course of action is to simply be thankful that there are trout in the system expressing the outward appearance (phenotype) of the Alvord cutthroat trout.

Perhaps a time for solving of mysteries will ensue when phenotypical Alvord cutthroat trout are, in time, successfully secured, preserved (propagated) and ultimately restored!  

So many questions, in need of answers . . .


In the process of “working through” the winter doldrums — it seems possible to initiate a project that time has eluded for us, for quite a while . . .  Using the Hubbs’ descriptions of the trout that he and his family located in Virgin Creek, NV – we put together a brief view of a few unique characteristics of Alvord cutthroat trout found in ***** Creek phenotypes:

Characteristics of a 5 Cent Trout Specimen

© KOD January 2013

About kortumofdiscovery

Kortum of Discovery (a slight play on Lewis & Clark's Corps of Discovery) is a family team that is Affirming the Exceptional Beauty of Nature, one Adventure at a Time. With a focus toward rare and endangered species in the Great Basin and American west: discoveries, unique methodologies, and many “tall tales to tell” are continually being shared around the campfire!
This entry was posted in ***** Creek Sampling, Fisheries Biology and Genetics, Observations, Of Fauna and Flora, Progress - Reply - Response - Status. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Added Complexity to the Puzzle ( Why Aren’t Rainbows Here? )

  1. Rex Eads says:

    That’s a nice little piece of data that answers a big question. Hope for a pure strain lives on!

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