(PHOTOS) Wyoming game and fish stocks 1,000 mown from Snake River in remote Mystery Lake, final stage of restoration

Cutthroat trout were crowded in distant Mystery Lake. (Wyoming Game and Fish)

CASPER, Wyo.– The Wyoming Game and Fish Department recently stocked 1,000 Snake River cutthroat trout in Mystery Lake in the Teton Wilderness.

The stocking of cutthroat trout is the latest step in efforts to restore the lake, a project that began in 2016, Game and Fish said Thursday. The project began by removing non-native fish, which primarily included rainbow trout, as these fish pose a threat to the native cutthroat. Rainbow trout not only compete with cutthroat, but can also hybridize, Game and Fish noted.

Mystery Lake is in the upper Cub Creek watershed, about five miles north of Brooks Lake near Togwotee Pass, the department said. Therefore, the 5-inch cutthroat trout was horse-packed into Mystery Lake.

Snake River cutthroats were also stocked in Mystery Lake in 2021, and Game and Fish said fish managers were able to document their survival. Fish stocked last year should now be of harvestable size and Game and Fish has encouraged anglers to consider a backcountry fishing experience at Mystery Lake.

Game and Fish added that stocking in Wyoming likely began in the 1930s.

“Fish were often transported in milk cans on the backs of horses in large ropes,” the statement said. Notably, Finis Mitchell is credited with stocking over 300 alpine lakes in the Wind River Range with fish raised at the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s Daniel Fish Hatchery. Today, the Department of Game and Fisheries stocks over 5 million fish a year, usually transporting them by truck to most places, but also by boats, helicopters, ATVs and sometimes horses.

“Anglers can visit the Game and Fish Department’s stocking page to find out when certain waters in Wyoming were stocked or where a particular species was stocked, etc.,” the statement added. “This handy tool contains storage records for all of Wyoming dating back to 1985. Searchable by year, county, species, or water name.”

Game and Fish shared videos and photos related to the Mystery Lake restoration effort as follows:

In 2016, Game and Fish treated Mystery Lake with rotenone to eliminate non-native fish. (Wyoming Game and Fish)
Ed Berry, Superintendent of Auburn Hatchery, weighing a load of fingerlings to be loaded into horse saddlebags. (Wyoming Game and Fish)
Auburn Hatchery Superintendent Ed Berry (L) releases oxygen into one of the fish bags as Jackson Fish biologist Diana Miller seals the bag around the pipe. (Wyoming Game and Fish)
Jackson’s game warden Jon Stephens secures a shipment of fish to be transported to Mystery Lake. (Wyoming Game and Fish)
Jackson game warden Jon Stephens, left, and Jackson fish biologist Diana Miller release a load of Snake River cutthroat fry into Mystery Lake as Diana’s dog Freckie looks on. (Wyoming Game and Fish)
Jackson Fish biologist Diana Miller releases native Snake River cutthroats into Mystery Lake below Coffin Butte. (Wyoming Game and Fish)
The fish is packed in milk cans carried by horses through the Wind River Range. (Wyoming Game and Fish)

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