Goose Lake Redband Trout

Oncorhynchus mykiss ssp.

Distribution and Habitat

Goose Lake redband trout are endemic to Goose Lake and tributaries in northeastern California and southeastern Oregon. In California, the majority of perennial tributaries with redband trout populations flow off the western slopes of the Warner Mountains and feed Goose Lake on the northeastern shore. In past wetter climatic periods, Goose Lake overflowed to the south and, as a result, tributaries to the upper Pit River may also contain redband trout, although their genetic relationships to Goose Lake redband trout and other fish that have “redband” characteristics in the lower Pit River are poorly understood.


There has been considerable interest in conserving all populations of native Goose Lake fishes, including redband trout. Anthropogenic factors, including habitat degradation, cattle grazing, water diversions, and the introduction of non-native fishes have threatened Goose Lake redband trout and other fishes in the basin. In addition, drought has played a sizeable role in the status of this subspecies.

Although a natural part of the ecosystem in the arid, high desert of northeastern California, prolonged drought has amplified concerns about future prospects of maintaining adequate cold water habitats. Increasing reliance upon groundwater pumping, in place of instream water diversions, may exacerbate the situation by reducing longer-term groundwater aquifer recharge and prolonged percolation into streams.

Conservation and Management

Largely because of a drought from 1987 to 1994, a proposal was developed to list the entire Goose Lake fish fauna as Threatened under the Federal Endangered Species Act. In response, the Goose Lake Fishes Working Group was formed in 1991, made up of representatives from both California and Oregon including private landowners, state and federal agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and universities. In 1995, the Goose Lake Fishes Conservation Strategy was completed to help conserve and restore native fishes in the Goose Lake basin.

Numerous actions have been undertaken to improve fish passage and habitat. Modifications made to land use practices will benefit the Goose Lake fish fauna and their habitats. In addition, CDFW has conducted fisheries, habitat and genetic analyses throughout the California portion of the range to better understand population structure and factors influencing the status and distribution of Goose Lake redband trout and other native fish. Though Goose Lake redband trout do not face immediate extinction risk, the California population is not entirely secure and they are a CDFW fish species of special concern.