The first lake trout was caught in Yellowstone Lake in 1994. However, no one’s quite sure how long the lake trout had been prowling the lake before one was hooked. But one thing is sure, the voracious invasive has devastated native cutthroat populations. How serious is the problem? According to the National Park Service, more than 90 percent of the lake’s spawning-age trout were gone by 2010. All hope is not lost, however. Chris Hunt reports on the massive efforts to save this vital link in Yellowstone Park’s ecosystem.

Words: Chris Hunt

It was June 2002, a fisheries biologist for the National Park Service was rooting around a massive deep freezer within an old storage shed outside of Lake Village in Yellowstone National Park.
The shed’s walls were lined with boat gear, buoys, nets and the like, but one of the back walls of the building was lined with freezers. The biologist’s upper half disappeared into the big, white box, his feet almost leaving the ground as he moved the contents around, muttering a few choice words now and then. Moments later, he emerged holding a massive fish.
“This,” he said, holding a frozen 30-pound behemoth lake trout in his arms, “is what we’re up against. All these freezers are full of fish like this.”

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The Flyfish Journal Volume 6 Issue 1 Feature Exit Strategy

above Native American tribes populated the area surrounding Yellowstone Lake for more than 9,000 years. Archeological sites have been found on six of the lake’s seven islands and along the lake’s north and south shorelines. John Colter, formerly of the Lewis and Clark expedition, was the first Euro-American to document the lake in 1807-1808. Colter’s reports about the area’s geologic features were widely ridiculed, and the area became known as “Colter’s Hell”.

Photo: Mark Lance


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