CENTRAL ARKANSAS (News release) — A new wild trout is coming to a Central Arkansas Fisheries. The Little Red River is going to get a planting of Bonneville Cutthroat Trout eggs in the coming weeks thanks to a group of dedicated volunteers.
Led by the Little Red River Foundation and joined by volunteers from The Arkansas Fly Fishers and Trout Unlimited Chapter 722 and Midsouth Fly Fishers, volunteers will begin the first phase of the actual egg planting this Saturday, May 16th.
The egg planting project will have two phases. The first phase is Saturday, May 16th when volunteers build wire “cradles.” By design the wire cradles protect the egg boxes and support the gravel that will be placed on top as they are buried in the river bed. The plan is to build 75 wire cradles which in turn will hold smaller plastic egg cradles called a Vibert.
The second phase will be on Saturday, May 23 when volunteers will actually be digging holes in the river bed, placing the eggs in the Vibert egg boxes, putting the boxes in the wire cradles, placing them in the dug holes and covering them up with supplied river rock gravel.
The eggs are coming from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. Cutthroat earned their name by a “cut” or slash of orange or red on their throat. The cutthroat trout differs from rainbow trout because they have teeth in their throat between the gill arches and they typically have larger heads and jaws and are covered in spots.
Arkansas Game and Fish will oversee the egg planting operation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will cooperate with a reduced river flow on the 23rd to accommodate the volunteer work in the riverbed.
A similar egg planting program for cutthroat trout was carried out in recent years in the Norfolk and White rivers in North Arkansas. Those plantings, which began in 2015, were successful and resulted in a new prized fish in Arkansas’ nationally recognized trout fishery. Cutthroat ranging in size up to 20-inches or more have been caught on a frequent basis and there is evidence that the fish has been spawning in the river.
Rainbow trout are predominant in Arkansas cold water rivers and come from hatcheries. In the early 1970’s the Arkansas Fly Fishers planted brown trout eggs in the Little Red River and that species quickly caught on. More brown trout were later planted in the White River and they too have reproduced.
Adding cutthroat trout to the Little Red River brings another prized species to the fishery and illustrates a continuing partnership between the fishing community and the cold water fishery managers at the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.