In the mid-1970s, the Paiute Tribe opened a fish hatchery in Sutcliffe and stocked Pyramid Lake with strains of Lahontan cutthroat from nearby lakes. The water in Pyramid Lake is saltier than Lake Tahoe, and that kept out the lake trout. The tribe re-established a Lahontan cutthroat sport fishery and saved Pyramid Lake’s endangered Cui-ui sucker from extinction. Anglers bought tribal licenses, hauled ladders out into the lake’s bracing water and considered any catch that weighed 10 pounds or more a trophy.
In the late 1970s, a fish biologist identified what he thought were surviving specimens of the vanished Pyramid Lake strain of Lahontan cutthroat in a small creek near a 10,000-foot mountain on the border of Nevada and Utah called Pilot Peak. A Utah man used buckets to stock the rugged stream with trout in the early 1900s, but made no record, federal biologists say. Geneticists recently compared cutthroats from the Pilot Peak stream with mounts of giant Pyramid Lake trout and discovered an exact DNA match.
“They are the originals,” said Corene Jones, 39, the broodstock coordinator for the Lahontan National Fish Hatchery in Gardnerville, Nev.