Catching the California Golden Trout
With its striking colors and relative rarity, the California golden trout is greatly sought after by Western anglers. Native to the California Sierra Nevada (and the state fish of California), the species was transplanted to several other states, including Montana, Utah, Colorado and Wyoming. Notably, the fish were transported and proliferated within a number of lakes in Wyoming’s Wind River Range, though the species has since been largely hybridized with other trout species outside its native territory. To catch a native California golden trout, check out these locations in the Sierra Nevada.
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The aptly named Golden Trout Creek, a 9-mile tributary of the South Fork Kern River that starts in the High Sierra Nevada flows through the Golden Trout Creek Volcanic Fields, is a key location for California golden trout. In many other areas of California and the rest of the United States, golden trout have crossbred with cutthroats, rainbows and other trout species, but the dramatic and beautiful Volcano Falls prevents other species from mixing with the fish in this creek. It’s unclear whether pure golden trout can be found in the larger river—though you’ll find plenty of rainbows and browns in and around the rugged canyons if flows through.
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As you might expect, the Golden Trout Wilderness is a grand place to find small creeks and waterways that are home to golden trout. Mulkey Creek is a nice place to catch small golden trout, and you might find these especially vibrant, marked by a particularly bright red lateral stripe.
The entire Kern Plateau in the South Sierra Wilderness, located south of the Golden Trout Wilderness, is marked by a network of springs and creeks that weaves a tapestry through this area. Monache Creek and Monache Meadows are considered two of the most beautiful areas in the Sierra Nevada for fly fishing. Although the fish are likely to be on the small side here, you’re likely to catch a variety of hybrid golden trout, rainbows and browns. This is one of a few locations where a weir was constructed in the 1960s, part of a larger effort to prevent the rainbows and browns from replacing the golden trout, but a rainbow hatchery added earlier had already resulted in hybrids that gradually predominated. Of course, that’s not to say you won’t catch some gorgeous fish here.