Game & Fish Continues Restoration of Mystery Lake
Members of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s Jackson Region recently stocked 750 Snake River cutthroat trout back into Mystery Lake in the Teton Wilderness. The 5-inch fish were packed into the remote lake on horseback, which is approximately five miles north of Brooks Lake near Togwotee Pass.
The stocking of the fish is the final step in restoring the lake to its native Snake River cutthroat trout. The restoration project began in 2016 with the removal of all non-native fish, primarily rainbow trout. The lake is in the upper Cub Creek drainage, a tributary to the South Fork of the Buffalo Fork. Non-native trout are the greatest threat to the persistence of native cutthroat trout. Rainbow trout, a close relative, compete with, but also readily hybridize with cutthroat trout.  

Mystery Lake being treated with rotenone to remove non-native fish in 2016. 
Stocking fish via horseback in Wyoming likely began in the 1930s, since the majority of alpine lakes did not originally have fish. Fish were often transported in milk cans on the backs of horses in large packstrings. 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.

A packstring transporting fish in milk cans into alpine lakes in the Wind River Range. 
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. 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.
This is the second consecutive year Snake River cutthroat trout have been stocked into Mystery Lake and survival of fish stocked last year was documented by fish managers, so those fish should now be catchable size. Anglers are encouraged to get out for a backcountry experience and to try their luck at Mystery Lake.

Auburn Fish Hatchery Superintendent Ed Berry weighs a load of fingerlings for the horse panniers.

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. 

Jackson Game Warden Jon Stephens secures a load of fish for transport to Mystery Lake.

A packstring with fish make their way through downfall heading for Mystery Lake.

Jackson Game Warden Jon Stephens (L) and Jackson Fish Biologist Diana Miller release a load a Snake River cutthroat fingerlings into Mystery Lake as Diana's dog Freki looks on.

Jackson Fish Biologist Diana Miller releases native Snake River cutthroats back into Mystery Lake beneath Coffin Butte.
Mark Gocke, Public Information Specialist, 307-249-5811

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