Trail riding and lake fishing go together like, well, fresh-caught trout cooked over a campfire with lemon and butter. So the first time I returned a living trout to a mountain lake, my inner-hunter asked, “What’s the point?” while my stomach grumbled, “There goes dinner.” Fishing regulations allowed me to keep the trout, but I’d noticed over the years that my favorite lake had fewer and fewer fish. So, I released my catch to swim another day.
It turns out, diminishing fish populations are an issue facing mountain lakes across the American West. In the past year, major backcountry areas in California and Washington have cut back their fish stocking programs. Why are they picking a fight with fish?