Spawning Cutthroat Trout

Restocking Yellowstone’s Goose Lake with Cutthroat Trout

It’s a high-profile location for restoration. Goose Lake is located in the Lower Geyser Basin, along the Fairy Falls Trail south of Fountain Flat Drive.

Keeping the lakes and rivers of Yellowstone safe for native fish is a huge task. Issues today can be traced back to decisions made decades ago, when Goose Lake and two other nearby lakes were stocked with non-native Rainbow trout — with the intent to “improve” the fishing in Yellowstone National Park with the larger, flashier trout breeds. But the end result was disastrous: The larger Rainbow trout directly contributed to a decline in native trout in Park lakes, rivers and streams. In addition, Rainbow trout can breed with cutthroat
trout, producing hybrid trout — which are also considered a non-native species.

This week Yellowstone biologists introduced a fish toxin, Rotenone, into the three lakes to kill off the Rainbow trout. This is the prescribed action per Yellowstone’s Native Fish Conservation Plan and Environmental Assessment, approved last May. The project will not impact the nearby Firehole River.

Visitors are advised not to swim in or drink from the three lakes now through October 15.  Warning signs will be posted at all areas treated with the chemical.

After the Rainbow trout are killed off, Park officials will reintroduce genetically pure native Westslope cutthroat trout to the three lakes next spring. The long-term plan, in addition to
restoring this native species to a portion of its native habitat, is for these lakes to provide a brood stock population of the native fish for future restoration efforts.

Image of spawning cutthroat trout courtesy of the National Park Service.


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