After a corona virus-induced hiatus, the cherished Rio Grande cutthroat trout stocking event will return to the Questa area this April. That’s the great news. The bad news is that a specific date for the event is pending final determination from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) as the agency responsible for activities at the Wild Rivers area of the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument.
Let’s keep our eyes peeled for a final date determination and be prepared to spread the word so that all Questeños will be able to participate, by taking the baby cutthroats down to the river, creating a cutthroat-related business promotion, or both. The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish (DGF) and BLM are confident that April will be the month; if past years are any indication, the stocking will take place on a Friday.
In case you’re unfamiliar with the stocking celebration, it amounts to DGF bringing trucks full of baby Rio Grande cutthroat trout to a trailhead location on the rim of the Rio Grande gorge. Members of the public, which in past years have included schoolkids, parents, fisherpeople, and hikers from the Questa area or as far away as Nebraska, Oklahoma, Colorado, and Las Cruces, are given a sturdy plastic bag full of water and baby trout, which they then hike down to the Rio for release. Many of these babies grow up to be spectacular adult cutthroats.
According to DGF, this may be the year when fingerlings can also be stocked at Eagle Rock Lake so that more folks can participate; as we all know, not everyone can do the gorge hike on a moment’s notice.
We hope to see you out there when a date is announced. As recently as 150 years ago, the Rio Grande cutthroat trout was the only trout swimming in the entire Rio Grande watershed. The fish is an integral component of our natural heritage, which events like this promise to strengthen and rebuild. Please keep an eye on the Questa Del Rio News Facebook page for the upcoming date!