Status of California Golden Trout
California Department of Fish and Game lists California golden trout as a Species of Special Concern. Today, golden trout are confronted with assaults from both non-native species (e.g., brown trout) and habitat degradation. California golden trout in the South Fork Kern River are threatened by brown trout through predation and competition for food and habitat. They face similar threats from invading rainbow trout, along with the threat of hybridization. These invading non-native trout are moving upstream from the Kennedy Meadows area. Brown trout had reached the very headwaters of the South Fork Kern River in 1969.
Fish barriers have been constructed, and the uppermost barrier at Templeton Meadows is working to keep brown trout from moving upstream. However, the lower barrier at Monache Meadows has not worked as well. In 1993, the Department of Fish and Game discovered a growing population of brown trout above this barrier.
New Measures Needed
Golden trout inhabitat fragile meadow systems in the upper Kern River basin. The Kern basin is a truly unique and special place and should be treated as such. In the long run, it makes sense to stop activities which degrade the quality of the habitat such as logging, grazing, and any supporting road development. As anglers, we owe it to this place and the golden trout to practice catch-and-release of all native trout and to be sure to keep non-native trout out of water inhabited by their fellow native trout.