The introduction of rainbow trout into Kauai

At a meeting of the Kauai Board of Supervisors on May 5, 1920, Kapaa homesteader Elmer M. Cheatham’s request for an appropriation of $200 to bring rainbow trout to Kauai and to distribute them at Kokee was received, and upon the motion of Walter Duncan McBryde, seconded by Joseph F. Bettencourt Jr., the request was approved.

It was understood at that meeting that the introduction of rainbow trout into Kauai would be an experiment, since there was doubt as to whether Kokee’s streams would be necessarily cold enough for the trout to thrive, but the board had nevertheless agreed it would be worth a trial.

During the week of May 30, 1920, 50,000 rainbow trout eggs, which had originated in Montana and Utah and had been shipped from California by H.L. Kelly of the U. S. Fish and Game Commission, arrived at Honolulu Harbor aboard the “SS Manoa” destined for Kauai — the first trout ever shipped to Hawaii.

The eggs arrived on Kauai on June 4, 1920, under the care of I.H. Wilson of the Fish and Game Commission, who took them to the hatchery at Elmer Cheatham’s place in the upper regions of Puu Ka Pele Park — situated within the Puu Ka Pele Forest Reserve under management and control of the County of Kauai — where he superintended their hatching.

A couple of weeks later, Kauai rancher and politician Charles Rice visited Cheatham’s hatchery and announced that the eggs had already begun to hatch and were doing fine.

Later, Cheatham reported that practically every egg had hatched and the young trout released at the end of June into six streams in the Puu Ka Pele region were healthy and spry.

That September, H.L. Kelly proclaimed the experiment a success, and Kokee was opened for trout fishing in 1923.

However, efforts to introduce rainbow trout on Maui and the Big Island in the 1920s failed due to insufficiently cold water.

Rainbow trout continue to be stocked at Kokee by the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources.


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