Monday, July 20, 2009

Trout in the Owyhees

I recently wrote on this blog about the extensive river and wetland restoration projects underway at the 45 Ranch deep in the Owyhees. Owners Charles Conn and Dennis Fitzpatrick have the goal of providing the best habitat for a variety of desert wildlife.

Charles Conn now sends this photo of an unexpected species from the South Fork of the Owyhee River as it flows through the 45 Ranch: a redband trout.

Desert redband trout can actually be found in many parts of the Owyhees. They are adapted to survive at temperatures that would kill most trout.

However, many of the larger rivers no longer contain redband trout, due to a variety of factors including dams and loss of riparian habitat. But it's also due in part to introductions of smallmouth bass to the dammed rivers. The bass have traveled out of reservoirs into rivers like the South Fork of the Owyhee. An agressive, fish-eating species, the bass quickly consume and out-compete the trout.

Redband trout remain in many smaller Owyhee rivers, like the Jarbidge, Big Jacks Creek and Little Jacks Creek.

It's great to find one in the South Fork as well. With the 45 Ranch's river conservation efforts, hopefully trout like this one have a bright future in the bigger Owyhee rivers as well.--Matt Miller

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