My interest in the golden trout of Volcano Creek began during a discussion with an old sage of a flyfisher. Having a gift for narrative, Steve started discussing how, every year, anglers from all over the world set out to catch a Volcano Creek Golden Trout. The only problem was they were targeting the wrong creek.
“What do you mean by the wrong creek?” I asked.
Steve explained: “In a 1905 report titled ‘The Golden Trout of the Southern High Sierras’, Evermann described the most beautiful of all trout, the Volcano Creek Golden, as occupying only one creek, Volcano Creek. The problem is early maps referenced this creek under two names, Golden Trout Creek and Volcano Creek.
“For whatever reason, the name Golden Trout Creek stuck, but we still refer to the trout as Volcano Golden Trout.
“And if that wasn’t confusing enough, CDFW put out a drought report a few years ago on Volcanic Creek, which is a small Volcano/Golden Trout Creek tributary. So, people walk past Volcano Creek every year in search of the tiny Volcanic Creek.”
Excerpt from “… the golden trout of the southern high Sierras”. by Juday Chancey 1871-1944 (Author), Barton Warren 1853-1932 Evermann (Creator)
“That’s interesting”, I said. “I have heard them referred to as Volcano Goldens before, but I hadn’t put too much thought into it. I mean, there’s golden trout all over the Golden Trout Wilderness. Other than a slight variation with the Little Kern Golden, they’re all basically the same.”
“Well, Evermann would disagree with you,” Steve said. “The report does list four different subspecies of goldens: The Little Kern Golden, The South Fork Golden, The Golden Trout of Volcano Creek, and The Kern River Rainbow…”
My drive home that night was one of humble contemplation. I had spent most of my youth hiking and fishing in the Golden Trout Wilderness. Steve had made me realize how vague my understanding of the topography and taxonomy of the area was. I was both excited by this new insight and disappointed by my serene ignorance.
I spent the next few weeks reading as much as possible on the topics. During this time, the idea of producing videos started materializing. Based on a couple of thoughts. First, the stream name confusion was a problem; someone needed to help sort through it. Second, I had already started the Heritage Trout Challenge. With two out of six trout caught, I was having the time of my life researching and catching each subspecies so I could document my progress through the challenge and share what I was learning. If I found this stuff interesting and useful, someone else may too.
And so began Heritage Trout Mapping. Armed with a couple of GoPros, I set off in search of the Real Golden Trout of Volcano Creek.
The story continues in Part 2.