First Successful Trout Reproduction Documented in the Lower Mountain Fork River (5/11/06)


For the first time ever documented in Oklahoma, fisheries biologists have documented natural reproduction of rainbow trout. The discovery was made in the lower Mountain Fork River trout fishery below Broken Bow Lake.

“Clearly, this new information sets the lower Mountain Fork River apart as one of the premier tail water fisheries in the nation,” said Barry Bolton, Chief of fisheries for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

Anglers reported observing trout spawning activity in December and January. A few months later, scattered reports began coming in of very small rainbow trout being caught by anglers. In ODWC sampling efforts in four different locations, biologists caught a total of 17 young rainbow trout.

The Wildlife Department first stocked the Lower Mountain Fork River with trout more than 17 years ago. Since that time the 12-mile designated trout stream has seen many habitat improvements. Additionally, thanks to the efforts of Oklahoma’s congressional delegation, the U.S. Congress passed the Water Resources Development Act in 1996 to ensure that cool water from Broken Bow Lake is released throughout the year to sustain the trout fishery.

These young trout are, in part, a reflection of all the hard work done through a number of cooperative habitat initiatives which could have never completed without generous donations, both in financial support and sweat equity, from several dedicated trout clubs in Oklahoma and Texas.

Rainbow trout have very specific habitat requirements in order to spawn successfully and biologists have completed several projects to make the river more suitable for trout. For example, the Spillway Creek area of the river was once mostly a swift and straight area, not the most suitable for trout or trout anglers. Today, the area is one of the most dynamic areas of the river. Wildlife Department personnel and their cooperators used large boulders and logs to improve the river channel creating a series of riffles, runs and pools - all prime trout habitat. The habitat efforts also trapped clean gravel in shallow areas of the river providing the type of habitat needed by spawning rainbow trout.

Wildlife Department fisheries biologists will monitor possible future trout reproduction and track the survival of these young trout. In the meantime, fisheries biologists will continue improving habitat in the area through projects like the Evening Hole Restoration Project – the most ambitious stream restoration project undertaken by the Department. Following two years of research and development, biologists have completed the huge task of renovating the area known as the Evening Hole located on the Lower Mountain Fork River. This project included the creation of a Lost Creek, a “new” trout stream almost a half-mile long that will connect to the main river channel and provide new angling opportunities. Additionally, a restoration project has been completed on Spillway Creek to further enhance trout habitat and fishing opportunities in the Lower Mountain Fork river.