Strange Alpine Trout continued

Reading some of the latest posts on hiking/fishing and abnormal trout reminded me of a hike-in trip up to Josephine Lake near Stevens pass a few years ago. I hooked and landed two trout which had distinct humps in front of the dorsal. Their jaws were also hooked or curved. They looked like a miniature spawning salmon.(I also caught several normal looking rainbow.)

Were these simply spawning trout in a mountain lake or a mutated trout.


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I suspect that Josephine has no creeks where trout can spawn and the fish must be periodically stocked. Old trout develop the appearance of spawning salmon; humped backs and hooked jaws, they also appear markedly thin, the head being the deepest part of the profile. I remember seeing a slide show put on by a member of the Trailblazers (a volunteer group that stocks mountain lakes that have no self-sustaining populations of trout); the lake in question had been stocked, by air, eight years earlier with rainbows and, assuming they all died of old age by now, the Trailblazers were packing in cutthroat fry. When the first cutthroat were released, the gaunt, hook-jawed rainbows appeared, seemingly from nowhere, to gobble them down. According to the slideshow presenter, they had quite a time, lashing pocket knives to sticks and spearing the rainbows, before they could safely release their cargo of cutthroat fry. He had slides of the rainbows and they appeared very much like your description.
Josephine does begin the headwater of Icicle creek, but as I recall the outlet descended in elevation rapidly immediately after leaving the lake. I imagine this would make it nearly impossible for the trout to spawn in the outlet.

Thank you for this information, as I've always been curious about those odd looking trout I caught that day.
Josephine has a naturally reproducing population of Twin Lakes (westslope) cutthroat. You'd be amazed at how little spawning area that variety of fish needs. If you were catching RB you were probably there in the eighties or early nineties when there were some planted RB in the lake that wouldn't have been able to reproduce. I agree with the other poster's comments that the odd looking ones were probably old fish.
I have a friend in his late 40's who wandered around with the Trailblazers for many years planting small lakes & ponds. I've also been fortunate in being able to visit some of them but I really don't understand a Trailblazer choosing to break the law by spearing trout! Sure, they realized their "cargo" was in peril from the existing rainbow stock, but electing to spear them??. They couldn't possibly eliminate ALL the old Bows so what was the point? Trailblazers are known for planting "alternate" (secret) locations and if they came upon an unexpected population of fish that conflicted with their plan, they should do one of the things they do best; select a close alternative, plant it & tell no-one but a Trailblazer.
I've been a Trail Blazer for 15 years and I've never heard the story about spearing trout with pocket knives. It would be almost impossible in any circumstances so I'm guessing there has been some leg pulling going on. Planting alternate, secret locations without WDFW approval is not legal. In decades past the WDFW would just give the Trail Blazers fish and send them forth. That is no longer the case. The fish go into the lake for which they were intended, or they go back to the hatchery. The days of being able to divert fish to secret locations are over.
Thanks for clearing that up. My reference to the old practices is clearly out of date. Come to think of it my buddy who participated in some planting trips hasn't been out with the Trailblazers in 20 years either. I do suspect there are individuals out there who may purchase fry with the intent of planting a pothole here & there but it sounds like it is a less frequent occurence than it used to be. I can say I've encountered Goldens 4 years ago in a body of water so small you had to be real careful not to overcast the pond. No takers (spooky fish!)but quite surprising that they were there at all. That was inside the North Cascades Nat'l. Park, not indicated on a map, and probably illegally planted. But by whom???
That could have been a legal plant. Many small potholes are still being planted, sometimes with only 25 or 50 fish, but they are all with WDFW approval. The NCNP is the only national park in the state in which some fish planting is still allowed.
I have been trying to find a lake with golden trout i even contacted wdfw and they e-mailed me something 3 months after i asked em for some info and my computer couldn't open it so i am still in search of a lake in washington with a
catchable amount of goldens.Any locations would be great.
If you don't want everyone to know you can e-mail me at
[email protected].I have a few secret spots my self so i can keep a secret.Any info would be great. :DUNNO


Active Member
Gillete Lake located by Bonneville Dam was stocked with goldens a few years ago. I fished it last year and caught a few in the 6" to 7" range. The lake isn't exactly an alpine experience, but it probably has the easiest access in the state to catch a golden.


Active Member
Gillete Lake is located off the Pacific Crest Trail. You can reach it by starting at the Bonneville Trailhead. This way is probably 3 miles. But there is a route that is only 3/4 of mile hike.
I caught a salmon-ish looking cutthroat trout before, in a small mountain lake with only a few fish. It was shaped like a small, male sockeye salmon. It sure looked like it was spawning or trying to spawn.

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