Sunapee golden trout
The Sunapee trout was often a foot long and was said to actually be silver in color. It was an distinct strain of Arctic char, having become trapped (by changed drainage systems) in four New Hampshire lakes: Big Dan Pond, Sunapee Lake, Floods Pond, and Averill Pond. In the wake of the retreating glacial front approximately 8,000 years ago, following the end of the last ice age, the Arctic char, an extremely coldwater, anadromous fish, was still spawning in New England. After the climate changed sufficiently, anadromous Arctic char stopped spawning in New England, leaving several lacustrine populations or Arctic char cut off from the bulk of the species in deep, cold, clear lakes in New Hampshire, Maine, and Québec. The lake populations of Arctic char in Maine are termed "blueback trout" and those in Québec are termed "Québec red trout".
However, by the late 19th century, as each area developed its own steady summer tourism, recreational fishermen who sought to increase their catches began to introduce new fish species into these lakes, and these eventually overwhelmed the native Sunapee golden trout. Lake trout, a larger char that holds the same ecological niche as Sunapee trout, only better, out-competed the Sunapee golden trout and hybridized with it, further accelerating its decline. The world record Sunapee golden trout was most likely a hybrid between the two species. Soon after that record-setting catch, the Sunapee golden trout could no longer be found in its resident lakes.
The Sunapee Lake strain of the silver trout was rediscovered in 1977 when Kent Ball, of Idaho Fish and Game, discovered a char species living with brook trout in a mountain lake in Idaho. Analysis by Robert Benhke, Eric Wagner, and Steve Culver proved the species to be the silver trout. Later research found reports of a trout egg trade between the Idaho and the New Hampshire Fish and Game departments.
- Robert J. Behnke. "About Trout: The Best of Robert J. Behnke from Trout Magazine". Retrieved 2014-01-29.
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