California Golden Trout

California Golden Trout

California Golden Trout

The State Fish of California, California Golden Trout once occupied about 450 miles of stream habitat in the upper South Fork Kern River and the adjacent Golden Trout Creek. Currently, the trout is native only to two high-altitude watersheds in California's rugged Sierra Nevada Mountains. The California Golden Trout, formerly called the Volcano Creek golden trout, is one of the most colorful trout in the world.



Since 2008, the Western Native Trout Initiative has contributed $48,000 to 2 projects benefiting California Golden Trout and Little Kern Golden Trout. Project goals were to estimate populations, analyze genetics, and trends in age, growth and size composition of the fishery as well as evaluate how changes in climate and the 2011 Lion Fire have affected trout populations.

Additional Resources

READ MORE more about California Department of Fish and Wildlife's efforts to conserve California Golden Trout.

CLICK HERE to download a 2008 publication Restoration of the California Golden Trout in the South Fork Kern River, Kern Plateau, Tulare County, California 1966-2004 by E. P. (Phil) Pister.   


On Sept. 19, 2016, California Dept of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) scientific staff rescued 52 California Golden Trout from Volcanic Creek and nearby wetland meadows in Tulare County. For the last three years, biologists have monitored the area and noticed a significant decrease in water due to the drought. CDFW believed the fish might not survive another dry winter, and a rescue effort was warranted. The fish in Volcanic Creek are a pure DNA strain of Golden Trout and are identified as a species of special concern, making the mission crucial.  Federal laws forbid motorized vehicles on wilderness land, so the rescue had to be done the old-fashioned way, by horseback. It took staff four days in an altitude above 10,000 ft., hiking more than 32 miles round trip to conduct the rescue. The fish, averaging four inches in length, were captured and placed into fish transport cans containing cold oxygenated water and covered with wet burlap. They were loaded onto mules and carried out to the trailhead where they were transferred onto trucks and hauled more than 300 miles to the American River Fish Hatchery just east of Sacramento. The trout will be reared and returned to the wild next year, if drought conditions improve.   Watch a video about the rescue.  

California Golden Trout photo gallery 

Photos courtesy of Native Trout Addict (@nativetroutaddict)

California Golden Trout courtesy of Native Trout Addict   California Golden Trout photo courtesy of Native Trout Addict

Both of the photos below were taken by California Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists during the 2008 population monitoring project (more information on the project can be found under on our Projects tab above).   

Photo courtesy of California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife    California Golden Trout.  Photo courtesy of California Dept of Fish and Wildlife