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Fishes of Yosemite National Park (1941, 1948) by Willis A. Evans and Orthello L. Wallis


GOLDEN TROUT—Courtesy California Fish and Game
[click to enlarge]
GOLDEN TROUT—Courtesy California Fish and Game.

GOLDEN TROUT

Salmo auqua-bonita Jordan

It is the opinion of most fishermen that the prize for striking beauty belongs to the golden trout. The catching of one’s first “goldie” is always a memorable event. The brilliant coloration of bright golden-yellow sides with reddish belly and fins is usually not apparent until the trophy is removed from the water. Dark olive bars or parr marks parallel each other vertically on both sides. The dark spots, when present, rarely extend below the midline on the sides.

Its specific scientific name, “aqua-bonita,” means “pretty waters” and is quite appropriate in describing its aquatic home. Once this beauty was found only in a few of the high mountain streams of the Kern River drainage; especially Volcano Creek (now called Golden Trout Creek) in Sequoia National Park. Many of the rocky slopes of Volcano Creek are volcanic in origin, containing bright reds and yellow-browns. This may have influenced the coloration of the golden trout in its original home.

Although native only to this limited area, it has since been widely planted throughout the High Sierra. Here in a land of long winters and a short summer growing season they are found inhabiting a number of alpine lakes and streams today. Though limited in distribution in Yosemite, headwaters of both the Tuolumne and Merced Rivers contain such waters. Golden trout were planted at Upper Fletcher Lake and Adair Lake in Yosemite National Park in 1919-1920 and in Townsley Lake in 1922 at elevations of over 10,000 feet.

The golden trout seldom reaches a size larger than seven or eight inches in the streams but lake specimens often exceed one foot in length, some having been taken up to 18 inches in Yosemite. Though a spring spawner, similar to the rainbow, it is often found spawning in July and August, which is in reality when spring occurs in this high mountain country.



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