High-mountain lakes provide important fisheries in the Rocky Mountains; therefore we sought to gain an understanding of the relationships among environmental factors, accessibility to anglers, stocking rates, and features of stocks of cutthroat trout Oncorhynchus clarki in high-mountain lakes of the Bighorn Mountains, Wyoming. We sampled fish with experimental gill nets, measured lake habitat features, and calculated factors affecting angler access among 19 lakes that lacked sufficient natural reproduction to support salmonid fisheries and that were stocked at 1-, 2-, or 4-year intervals with fingerling cutthroat trout. We found that angler accessibility was probably the primary factor affecting stock structure, whereas stocking rates affected the densities of cutthroat trout among lakes. The maximum number of years survived after stocking appeared to have the greatest affect on biomass and population structure. Our findings suggest that control of harvest and manipulation of stocking densities can affect the density, biomass, and structure of cutthroat trout stocks in high-elevation lakes.
Additional publication details
Factors associated with stocked cutthroat trout populations in high-mountain lakes