In September 2012, Colorado Parks and Wildlife biologists stocked more than 250 native cutthroat trout in Woods Lake southwest of Telluride. The lake was selected because it will provide excellent quality cutthroat habitat: the area is isolated, the water is pristine and barriers protect the lake from non-native fish that live downstream.
Once the population is established, the lake will provide the broodstock which will eventually assist in cutthroat conservation efforts throughout the Dolores and Gunnison river basins.
The reintroduced trout were captured from a small stream on the Uncompahgre Plateau earlier in the day and transported by horseback and then by truck to the lake. Wild fish from the small stream will also be spawned in the spring of 2013 so that larger numbers of fish can be introduced to Woods Lake and tributaries, Muddy Creek and Fall Creek, next summer.
Anglers can expect to start catching some cutthroat trout in the summer of 2013 but it will be a couple of years before there are large numbers of older-age fish to catch. Anglers are encouraged to release all fish they catch for the next couple of years to allow the population to grow. Fishing in the lake and streams above is restricted to artificial flies and lures only.
Cutthroat trout have been eliminated from many rivers and streams in western Colorado due to habitat loss, water quality impacts and the introduction of non-native. The native fish, which has been petitioned for listing as an endangered species, can now be found in only about 14 percent of its historic range in the Rocky Mountain West.
The Woods Lake reintroduction project is an effort to restore the native trout to its former habitat, expand the fish’s range and prevent the need for an endangered species listing.
Elsewhere in southwest Colorado — and only about 20 miles as the crow flies southeast of Woods Lake — another cutthroat restoration project is ongoing in the upper Hermosa Creek drainage near the Purgatory ski resort in San Juan County. When that project is completed in about five years, more than 20 miles of Hermosa Creek and feeder streams will be home to native cutthroats.
To learn more about efforts by Colorado Parks and Wildlife to restore native trout,see:
source: Colorado Parks and Wildlife