Mojave Goldfish

Over Presidents day weekend, my wife and I were travelling back from Big Bear, CA to our house after a visit with family towards our home in Las Vegas.  Frequently, my wife will point out an old road or mine and comment that we need to take that trail someday.  During out drive home, we were talking about the mining district in Mountain Pass and the Evening Star mine.  On this journey, we chanced upon the ultra rare Mojave Goldfish.

This is one of the great reasons for owning a 4×4 and the Mojave Desert is a prime location to explore.

A live stock watering trough in the Mojave Desert.. Photograph by James L Rathbun
A live stock watering trough in the Mojave Desert. Photograph by James L Rathbun

So, we exited the I-15 travelling north on Baily road near the Kokoweef mine.  Typically, I have a route mapped out ahead of time, but a spur of the moment decision left our route to happenstance.   We drove straight off the off ramp and headed up the hill.  Immediately I sensed the I took the wrong route, but since we were exploring I just drove on, you never know what you will find.  Soon, we found a private property sign, and opt towards a road to the left.  I found 4×4 low in the transfer case and we climbed a short hill.  Upon cresting the hill, I noticed something metal down the the left.  I road the gears down in low until we reached the small canyon where I made a tight left towards the metallic object I saw from the top of the hill.

Within a quarter of a mile, I found an juniper tree with a metal water trough.  These are not uncommon in the mojave and can be found throughout the dessert.  I parked the jeep to investigate and was shocked…

The rare Mojave Gold fish in its natual environment. Photo by James L Rathbun
The rare Mojave Gold fish in its natural environment. Photo by James L Rathbun

We stumbled upon Goldfish, in the Mojave Desert and these things were pretty big.  I mean, I have eaten trout smaller than some of these.  Goldfish are used to keep the algae in check inside the water trough.  An elegant solution to a problem I didn’t think existed, but that makes sense.  The water trough was plumbed with a PVC pipe to bring the spring water to the trough.  The overflow, did just that and the rocks on either wide of the trough edge allow for animals to escape the tank.  An endless supply of fresh water would keep the urea concentrations down, so the fish grow into their environment.

My biggest question is that in a remote area with a lot of preditors, why are these fish alive?  I thought that an oportunistic coyote, fox or raven would make quick work of this exposed tank, but these large fish prove they have been here for time.  Regardless a very fun find and a true 4×4 destination.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.