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Cutthroat Trout at Hicks Lake

Q: I have a few questions about cutthroat trout at Hicks Lake. I understand that they stock the lake a lot later than other local lakes with cutthroat trout (like July, September, and October). I was curious as to why? It never used to be this late, for instance in 2003-06 it was stocked in March or April. Why changed it? Is it just because other Lakes are higher up the priority list? Also, does anyone know when Hicks is slated to be stocked this year? Another question i have is regarding stocked cutthroat trout in general. I was curious how long they typically live for? Is it the same as native cuttthroat (I have heard 6-10 years)?

A: The stocking regime for Hicks lake is determined by a number of factors. In our local lakes (Lower Mainland), the lake productivity is quite low compared to interior lakes, so the larger the fish are when stocked, the higher their survivability as they are bigger and stronger. Coastal cutthroat trout are spring spawners so to get these fish bigger in the hatchery is to release them as 1 ½ year old fish rather than 1 year old. Fish released in March to May are essentially yearlings (approx 3-5 inches) whereas fish released in July are 1 ¼ years old and fish released in September and October are 1 ½ years old.

If you look at the size of the fish in the release in July 2010, you will see that they are 38.4 grams, approximately 5-7 inches long. The fish released in September/October averaged 95.2 grams, approximately 8-10 inches long. By releasing later in the year the fish are larger and can enter the fishery much more quickly, will have higher survivability, and produce a larger stronger fish for next spring's fishery.

As far as the age of coastal cutthroat in our area, most adults will live to 4 or 5 years old if they are 2N or normal fish. 3N (triploid) cutthroat trout can grow up to 6 or 7 years under good lake conditions. I believe that some triploid cutthroat from Jones (Wahleach) lake have been aged at 7 years and 6lbs in weight. This is to say that there can be exceptions in both 2N or 3N cutthroat trout where fish can grow older and bigger but these would be exceptions. I hope this helps.

Nick Basok
Staff at Chilliwack Dart & Tackle and Public Advisor of Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC

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