How we're working to save them:
- Expand projects that increase reliable quantities and quality of cold water habitat.
- Implement management and restoration projects that focus on reconnecting populations of Rainbow trout that are currently separated by barriers and promoting access to diverse habitats to restore genetic diversity.
- Support healthy populations of wild trout for catch-and-release recreational fisheries.
Click here to learn about CalTrout’s overall “Return to Resilience” plan to save California’s salmonids from extinction.
Where to find Goose Lake Redband Trout:
Goose Lake Redband Trout Distribution
Goose Lake Redband trout inhabit Goose Lake, its many tributaries in Oregon and California, and a few select tributaries to the upper Pit River near Alturas (Modoc County). They are present today in six Goose Lake tributaries in California and four Pit River tributaries in far northeastern California.
How the Goose Lake Redband Trout Scored:
Goose Lake Redband trout were once so abundant they were harvested commercially and sold to nearby logging camps in California and Oregon. They look similar to other Redband trout, with yellowish bodies, brick-red lateral stripes, heavy spots on the body, and white- tipped fins. Fish in streams keep their parr marks, or dark ovals along their sides, for their entire lives, while adults in the lake take on a silvery coloration. In Goose Lake, fish historically attained lengths up to 70 cm (28 in.), while stream-dwelling fish rarely grow larger than 25 cm (10 in.).
Historically, Goose Lake and its tributaries likely supported thousands of spawning adult fish annually. More recently, abundance estimates in California tributaries were about half of estimates from a decade or two earlier, or on the order of several hundred year-old trout per mile.
Habitat & Behavior
Goose Lake Redband trout are adapted to live in the highly alkaline, cool, and shallow waters of the vast Goose Lake, which sits 1,430 m (about 4,700 ft.) above sea level. Goose Lake is approximately 76 km (47 mi.) long and 19 km (12 mi.) wide when full, yet is only about 3 m (10 ft.) at its deepest point. High prevailing winds in this desolate region regularly churn the waters, making the waters extremely turbid but rich with invertebrates for trout to feed on. Redbands can take on two different life histories to exploit this harsh environment. Some fish are born in tributary streams and migrate to the lake to grow larger before returning to spawn in their home streams. Other fish reside in cold, clear headwater tributary streams for their entire lives without undertaking lake migrations. Spawning migrations follow snowmelt and rain in the spring, usually during late March or in April, with most spawning occurring in May. Spawning fish are mostly made up of three-year-old adults, which appear pale in color, perhaps resulting from time spent in the lake’s turbid waters. In the lake, the trout feed on Goose Lake Tui chub, Tadpole shrimp, and other abundant invertebrates, while in streams, the Redbands mostly eat insects and fly larvae.
Goose Lake Redband trout are most similar to trout of two adjacent basins: the Warner Basin in California, Oregon and Nevada, and the Chewaucan Basin in Oregon. Recent genetic studies indicate a close relationship between Goose Lake Redbands and neighboring Warner Lakes Redbands and their distinctiveness requires further study.