The Sublette County Journal
Volume 4, Number 16 - 12/16/99
brought to you online by Pinedale Online
Soda Lake Produces Brook and Brown Trout for Wyoming and Beyond
PINEDALE - Squeezing eggs from Soda Lake's brook and brown trout this fall will also inject walleye into several Wyoming reservoirs next spring.
The annual spawning operation near Pinedale not only produces brook and brown trout to be stocked in Wyoming, but also some other states. This year the surplus Soda Lake eggs are headed to Wisconsin and South Dakota in exchange for walleye and to Montana for future considerations.
"Because we (Wyoming Game and Fish Department) only have trout hatcheries, we get our warm-water fish like walleye, bass and catfish from other states," said Ben Farmer, G&F spawning coordinator. "The surplus eggs from Soda Lake have been one of the most sought after trade offerings from other states."
From Oct. 11-22, Farmer and his crew spawned 480 pairs of brown trout, collecting and fertilizing 1,066,000 eggs. The biologists garnered 716,000 brook trout eggs from 428 pairs. All eggs were transported to the G&F's Dubois Hatchery.
Additional milt, or sperm, from 100 brook trout males was collected and shipped to the Story Hatchery to fertilize lake trout eggs and produce splake. The hybrid is stocked in several Wyoming reservoirs with the extra eggs being traded to Colorado this year.
The Soda Lake fish, which averaged 16.2 inches for brown trout and 13.1 inches for brook trout, swam into nets as they cruised Soda Lake's shoreline looking for natural spawning sites. After handling, the fish were returned to the lake unharmed. Due to the high alkalinity of a lake without an inlet and outlet, natural reproduction is largely unsuccessful at Soda Lake. Every year, several thousand brown and brook trout are stocked back into the 312-acre lake.
"As in previous years, we had more than enough fish to spawn," Farmer said. "Plus it was the nicest weather we've had in years for the operation. Usually we're handling the fish in sleet and snow."
Over the years, Illinois, Arizona, and Nebraska have also received Wyoming brown and brook trout. The Soda Lake brown trout are very sought after because the population is one of the few disease-free stocks in the country.
Wyoming also trades cutthroat and rainbow trout to other states for warm-water fish.
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