May 2021 - 40

Jack Ballard holds a Colorado River cutthroat trout. The red hues indicate the fish was ready to spawn. (Photo by Lisa Ballard)

I

stood at the edge of the alpine lake, casting my fly atop the water. In these
clear-water pools, it's easy for a trout to catch any angler's eye swimming in
the shallows. But this time, a slow-moving fin wasn't what drew me in, it was
the red in the water. Just a moment later, the fish was on land and in hand for a
better look, reeled in by my husband, Jack. The fish looked almost tropical with
brilliant crimson ribboned from its cheeks to the far end of its belly. The color
bled up its sides, so intense in places it nearly
Spawning is the term used to describe a fish's reproobscured its black spots. The vibrant colors ductive process. As Jack held the stunning fish for
a quick photo, I noticed its belly was gushy in his
on the Colorado River cutthroat trout were a hands, a hint this fish was ready to lay her eggs. Jack
was particularly pleased with his catch, not only for
giveaway the cutthroats were spawning.
its hues but also because it took a long time to hook
it. As an angler, when the fish seem unusually finicky
about taking a fly or lure, that is an indication they
are spawning. They've got mating on their minds,
not feeding.
After the photo we gently released the trout into
the crystalline water. It swam toward a shelf next to the
bank where other cutthroats had gathered - another
clue the fish in the lake were spawning.

40 | May 2021	



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