Voices from the river

Voices from the River: Public discussions on Lahontan cutthroat and a new beer

Doug Ouelette, Sagebrush Trout Unlimited Chapter board member, with a 21-pound Lahontan cutthroat trout caught at Pyramid Lake in Nevada. Courtesy photo.

By Brett Prettyman

If you dream of landing big trout chances are you have heard of the mighty Lahontan cutthroat of Pyramid Lake in Nevada.

While the native fish approaching 30 pounds are on the bucket list of anglers across the world, many people living near the lake know little, if anything, about the giant fish of Pyramid.

The owner of a local brewery and the former Nevada supervisor for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and other partners, are hoping to increase knowledge of a special cutthroat.

Great Basin Brewery in Reno, Nevada, will be the location for a series of “Talkin’ Trout” discussions in October.

A teaser for one of the three Talkin’ Trout segments taking place in Reno in October.

Bob Williams got to know the Lahontan cutthroat story well during his time as the Fish and Wildlife Service director in Nevada. He got to know Tom Young, owner of Great Basin Brewery, during visits to the oldest brewery in Nevada. They became friends and during a visit last year got to talking about native cutthroat.

“We got on the subject of native fish of Nevada, Lahontan cutthroat and how they used to run up the Truckee River. We talked about how that history and the “big fish” story was such a big part of Nevada’s history,” Williams said. “We wondered if there was something we could do to help the public and others learn more about the fish and its history”.

A happy angler with a Lahontan cutthroat landed at Pyramid. Brett Prettyman/Trout Unlimited

Also part of the discussion at lunch that day was Jon Sjoberg, chief of fisheries for the Nevada Department of Wildlife. Among the talking points in that initial discussion was an event to celebrate the recovery of Lahontan cutthroat with the release of a special beer.

“There is a strong push to start involving the public with science going on around the region and seeing the conservation and restoration of Lahontan cutthroat trout becoming a part of that is outstanding,” said Tim Caldwell, vice president of the Sagebrush Chapter of Trout Unlimited in Reno. “As a chapter, we hope that this will bring more people to TU and we will see them get more involved in the work we are doing, We can never have enough motivated fishermen, conservationists and naturalists working to move our mission forward.”

The Talkin’ Trout series will wrap up on Oct. 28 with TROUT-tober-FEST and the debut of LCT Redd. This red ale will be released during a celebration from 3-9 p.m.

The series starts Oct. 12 with “The Evolution of a Giant” featuring Mary Peacock from the University of Nevada-Reno and Albert John of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe.

The discussion on Oct. 19 is titled “The Lahontan Today” and includes speakers John Sjoberg with the Nevada Department of Wildlife, Chad Mellison with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Lisa Heki from the Lahontan National Fish Hatchery Complex and Phaedra Budy from Utah State University.

Helen Neville, part of the national Trout Unlimited Science Team, will talk about the future recovery efforts for Lahontan cutthroat on Oct. 26. She will be followed by Robert Al-Chokhacy with the U.S. Geological Survey.

A Lahontan cutthroat trout is relased back into Pyramid Lake. Brett Prettyman/Trout Unlimited

The Talkin’ Trout series will be held at Taps and Tanks, 1155 S. Rock Blvd., in Reno. The talks run from 6 to 8 p.m. Visit the website for more information.

So even if you make the trip to Pyramid Lake and come away empty handed, as anglers are known to do, you can drown your sorrows in beer commemorating the species you failed to land.

“Sagebrush TU is thrilled to see native trout in the area get a namesake beer,” Caldwell said. “We know a lot of people enjoy Great Basin beer, so our hope is that this continues to raise awareness and build support to conserve and restore the few remaining populations we have left of Lahontan cutthroat trout.”

Brett Prettyman is the Intermountain Communications Director for Trout Unlimited. He works in Utah, Nevada, Wyoming and Idaho and can be reached at bprettyman@tu.org

By Brett Prettyman.