Golden trout in net.JPG

Photo courtesy of Colorado Parks and Wildlife

A golden trout.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife recently announced a “unique backcountry fishing opportunity.”

That was the description in a news release from Joe Brand, manager of State Forest State Park in northwestern Colorado. Two alpine lakes here are newly home to golden trout, the California state fish whose population diminished at State Forest in the 1990s.

The shiny trout swim elsewhere in Colorado, but the state wildlife agency maintains the record catch of 22 1/2 inches took place at State Forest’s Kelly Lake in 1979. The species was first stocked there earlier that decade.

“Despite their short tenure in Kelly Lake,” the news release noted, “the reputation of golden trout being a fun-to-catch and brightly colored fish lives on in the memory of area anglers.”

Now, the agency reports about 600 of them have been introduced in Jewel and Clear lakes, deep into the wilds of the park, which is often called the “mini Rocky Mountain National Park.”

But anglers will have to wait before embarking.

Biologists expect it will take three years for the population to grow to catchable size. Experts have expressed confidence in the new habitats, which were reportedly identified after years of assessments.

Jewel Lake requires about a 3-mile hike, while the venture to Clear Lake is closer to 8 miles. With each perched near 11,000 feet, the waters demand thousands of feet of elevation gain.

Contact the writer: seth.boster@gazette.com

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