The Truckee River was once home to enormous 40-pound Pilot Peak Cutthroat Trout. Over-fishing devastated the population.
But the species was kept alive in fish hatcheries. In 2006 they were reintroduced into Pyramid Lake, which is the terminus of the Truckee.
This year those fish matured reproductively and in April, they dug spawning nests and the females laid eggs.
“They can take advantage of habitat and in stream flow and make it happen," says Lisa Heki with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "They are a wild strain and they still know how to do it.”
Heki says the trout are making a comeback even in a drought.
“The Pyramid Tribe has done a phenomenal job of maintaining and protecting that ecosystem," said Heki. "I mean without their dedication to security, their resource, this opportunity wouldn’t be here.”
The trout can grow to be 40 pounds. Heki says, now it is up to federal and state fisheries managers to expand breeding grounds all the way to Lake Tahoe.
Another challenge is preventing the interbreeding with non-native species.