Goose Lake Redband

Oncorhynchus mykiss newberrii

Native Trout Fly Fishing

A Goose Lake redband from a stream in northern California.


The Goose Lake redband trout are native to streams flowing into Goose Lake as well as the upper part of the Pit River watershed. These redbands are closely related to the trout of the Chewaucan basin and Warner Valley and are currently classified as part of the subspecies Oncorhynchus mykiss newberrii (Behnke 2002).

Life History Information

The Goose Lake basin is an enclosed interior basin that is filled with the remnants of the Pleistocene Goose Lake. While Goose Lake can provide a productive environment for trout to grow when conditions are right, it is subject to extreme fluctuations in water level. As recently as 1881, Goose Lake overflowed to the Pit River and in 1992 after several dry years it completely dried up (ODFW 2005). Today most of the suitable trout habitat in the basin is restricted to the tributaries of Goose Lake, as well as the headwaters of the Pit River. As such the dominant life history type is the stream resident form, which has a diet composed of aquatic and terrestrial insects. These stream resident fish generally have a maximum lifespan of five years and grow to about fourteen inches (Behnke 2002). According to Dambacher et al. (2001) Goose Lake redbands occur at a higher abundance, but weight significantly less than the other varieties of redbands found in the northern Great Basin. During wet years, these redbands may exhibit a migratory life history and take advantage of the foraging opportunities in Goose Lake. This use of the lake allows these trout to reach lengths up to 36" and these larger fish have a higher fecundity than those that spend their entire lives in streams, making them an important component to the continued viability of these redbands (ODFW 2005).


The redbands native to the Goose Lake drainage face a number of issues that have become common threats to salmonids in the arid regions of the American west. It was because of declines associated with these issues that in 1997 the redbands of the northern Great Basin including those native to Goose Lake were petitioned to be listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (USFWS 1997). Although this listing was denied, actions are being taken to ensure the continued viability of these fish. Of the thirteen populations in the state of Oregon, only four are considered healthy and the state considers these redbands to be at risk of extinction (ODFW 2005). Hybridization is not currently considered to be a threat to these fish, but genetic studies have shown hatchery rainbow trout influences in several populations (Behnke 1992 & ODFW 2005). Perhaps one of the greatest threats to these fish is the agricultural practices in the watershed. Today the water resources in the basin have been over appropriated and diversions for irrigation block migration routes. Due to this five of the populations found in Oregon no longer have access to Goose Lake (ODFW 2005). Habitat destruction by livestock has also been a problem and has led to erosion, loss of stream meanders and incised channels throughout much of the watershed. Recently restoration projects have been implemented to attempt to address these problems on Lassen Creek in California and it is hoped that the redbands will respond positively to the improvements (Streamwise 2005).


The coloration of these fish is olive or greenish-blue on the back and transitions to a yellowish or pale green color across the body. These redbands have a pink or red stripe along their lateral line, and their gill plates are a rosy color. The spotting pattern consists of small round or irregular shaped spots that are profusely distributed both above and below the lateral line. Spots are also found on the caudal and dorsal fins and tend to get larger near the caudal fin. Purplish colored elliptical shaped parr marks are often retained into maturity in stream resident fish, but fade away in lake dwelling individuals. These lake form redbands generally will have a much more silvery coloration and sparse spotting pattern then stream resident forms. The caudal fin is forked, dorsal fin may be tipped with either white or orange, while anal and pelvic fins are both tipped with white.

Stream Resident Form

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Native Range

Native Trout Fly Fishing

A map of the native range of the Goose Lake redband trout. Data Sources: Behnke (2002) and ODFW (2005).