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White River Bonneville Cutthroat Population Grows

leah kirk

The group headed by the North Arkansas Federation of Flyfishers recently planting of approximately fifty thousand Bonneville cutthroat trout eggs in both the White River and Norfork tailwaters in June. The Arkansas Game and Fish, White River Chapter Trout Unlimited, Friends of the North Fork and White Rivers, Cross Trail Outfitters and other groups joined to plant the eggs near Rim Shoals on the White River and above Ackerman access on the Norfork tailwaters.

The eggs were flown from a hatchery in Wyoming to the Norfork National Trout Hatchery where they are placed in small plastic boxes known as “Whitlock-Vibert boxes”. Each box contains 500 to 600 fertilized eggs. The boxes provide protection for the eggs and fry until they can work their way through the slits in the boxes into the surrounding gravel and out into the flowing water. The boxes also allow for water to flow over the eggs which provides needed oxygen.

The Vibert boxes are placed in wire mesh boxes filled with gravel which are placed in artificial redds dug into the river gravel. After the wire boxes are placed in the artificial redds, they are covered with gravel to protect them from the river current. The incubation period for the eggs is 24 to 25 days. The egg planting program was begun about 7 years ago and there have been numerous catches reported of Bonneville Cutthroat in the Norfork tailwaters with lengths exceeding 18 inches.