Friday, July 7, 2017

Here Fishy, Fishy!

Took the kid down to visit her cousins in southern California, on the way we stopped at the historic Mt. Whitney Fish Hatchery in Independence, California.  That link is the official CA link, there is another maintained by the hatchery today, here.  I'd suggest reading both to get the full story, also to talk with the volunteers in person.  The tale of determined locals vs. state government, betrayals and victories they've told me could be a movie of the week!

The hatchery has been around a long time.  After severe flooding and mudflows destroyed the fish-rearing ponds, four buildings, filled the fingerling raceways and killed all the fish in 2008, there then followed California's budget woes that forced it's closure.  It would have disappeared if it wasn't for a stubborn group of volunteers that saved it.

Today it's no longer a hatchery but is instead an interpretive center/museum--but with fish!  It has odd days and hours of operation, so it can be difficult to catch it open.  But it's well worth it! They specialize in raising Golden Trout, the stunning California state fish.

The pond out front is home to some truly huge, pretty damned tame Rainbow trout...

...and several kinds of dragonflies!

This one just climbed right onto the kid's fingertip.

 The trout just kinda hang around certain spots near the shore...

The reason why they hung out in these particular areas?
Old coin-operated candy machines that give you a big ol' handful of trout chow for a quarter to cast upon the waters!
Which promptly causes a fish riot. The pond was calm, so the little kids standing near us as we tossed in the food were shrieking with excitement.  Pretty soon all the adults were shoving quarters or trout chow into any kid nearby's hands so they could feed them, too. Didn't matter if it wasn't your kid, here have a quarter and get some trout chow, it's awesome!

Fish riots are cool.
They swim over each other and bonk into each other as they go after the food; Hell, they don't care.

I like this pic for the beautiful tail sticking out of the water.

After this we went inside.  The volunteers have been working hard to improve the place, installing a video monitor with seating so you can watch a show on the hatchery's history, plus a bunch of exhibits with old-time fish stocking equipment from the days when it was all done using pack trains of horses. There is also a small gift shop and another room with a few odd 'yard sale' items people donated to help raise money for the site.

But also--Golden trout fingerlings!

Pretty sure this sign was from last year, but heck, it still works.

Golden trout babies!!!
They zoomed up and down the raceways clearly wanting us to feed them, but alas we had no fingerling chow.  As lovely as these little guys are, their colors are nothing compared to how bright the adult Golden Trout are.

After this it was time to wash the trout chow off our fingers and wave goodbye to the fish.