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(PHOTOS) Wyoming Game and Fish stocks 1,000 Snake River cutthroat into remote Mystery Lake as last step in restoration

Cutthroat trout were packed into the remote Mystery Lake. (Wyoming Game and Fish)

CASPER, Wyo. — The Wyoming Game and Fish Department recently stocked 1,000 Snake River cutthroat trout into Mystery Lake in the Teton Wilderness.

The stocking of the cutthroat trout is the final step in efforts to restore the lake, a project that began in 2016, Game and Fish said on Thursday. The project began with removing non-native fish, which mainly included rainbow trout, as such fish are a threat to the native cutthroat. Rainbow trout not only compete with cutthroat but can also hybridize, Game and Fish noted.

Mystery Lake is in the upper Cub Creek drainage about five miles north of Brooks Lake near Togwotee Pass, the department said. Therefore, the 5-inch cutthroat trout were packed into Mystery Lake on horseback.

Snake River cutthroat were also stocked into Mystery Lake in 2021, and Game and Fish said fish managers have been able to document their survival. Fish stocked last year should now be a catchable size and Game and Fish encouraged anglers to consider a backcountry experience fishing at Mystery Lake.


Game and Fish added that stocking fish in Wyoming likely began in the 1930s.

“Fish were often transported in milk cans on the backs of horses in large packstrings,” the release said. “Notably, Finis Mitchell is credited with stocking over 300 alpine lakes in the Wind River Range with fish reared at the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s Daniel Fish Hatchery. Today, the Game and Fish Department stocks over 5 million fish annually, typically transporting them by truck to most locations, but also boats, helicopters, ATVs, and occasionally horses.

“Anglers can visit the Game and Fish Department’s fish stocking page to look up when certain Wyoming waters have been stocked or where a particular species has been stocked, etc.,” the release added. “This handy tool has stocking records for all of Wyoming dating back to 1985. A search can be done by year, county, species or water name.”

Game and Fish shared video and photos related to the Mystery Lake restoration effort as follows:

In 2016, Game and Fish treated Mystery Lake with rotenone to remove non-native fish. (Wyoming Game and Fish)
Ed Berry, Auburn Fish Hatchery’s superintendent, weighing a load of fingerlings to be loaded into horse panniers. (Wyoming Game and Fish)
Auburn Hatchery Superintendent Ed Berry (L) releases oxygen into one of the horse panniers of fish as Jackson Fish Biologist Diana Miller seals the bag around the hose. (Wyoming Game and Fish)
Jackson Game Warden Jon Stephens secures a load of fish for transport to Mystery Lake. (Wyoming Game and Fish)
Jackson Game Warden Jon Stephens, left, and Jackson Fish Biologist Diana Miller release a load of Snake River cutthroat fingerlings into Mystery Lake as Diana’s dog Freckie looks on. (Wyoming Game and Fish)
Jackson Fish Biologist Diana Miller releases native Snake River cutthroats back into Mystery Lake beneath Coffin Butte. (Wyoming Game and Fish)
Fish being packed in milk cans carried by horses into the Wind River Range. (Wyoming Game and Fish)