Colorado: Trouble in trout paradise

Please click on the image to watch the short video clip.

An exclusive Summit Voice interview with Fraser Trout, a homeless fish seeking some love (and water) in the Colorado River Basin

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — The Defend the Colorado coalition’s new video, “Trout in Trouble,” features a lost-looking trout leaving his dried-up streambed in the Fraser Valley to go seek water in the big city of Denver, where he panhandles on the streets with a sign reading, “Anything helps.” A passing motorist gives him a bottle of water that he sprinkles over his head, but the expression on his face tells us it’s not enough.  The video’s message: Denver Water needs to do more to protect the Fraser River from future diversions to the Front Range.

The “homeless trout’s” performance has been hailed for its authenticity and raw power, with Denver’s Westword calling the film reminiscent of Chaplin and Capra.  Others have compared the trout to a young Brando.

Defend the Colorado has offered Summit County Citizens Voice an exclusive interview with the trout. The following is a highly edited transcript. Please click the read more button to check it ou.

Q: So, any luck finding water yet?

A. Thanks for asking. No, not really.  I’m not having much success opening water bottles or fire hydrants. You know (holding up fins), lack of opposable thumbs and all.  It kinda sucks.

Q. The film is attracting praise for your performance, which has been called “powerful” and “courageous.”

A. It’s gratifying.  The director told me to just “play myself.”  I’m glad people find my fate compelling.  I never dreamed it would get Oscar buzz.

Q.   What has been the response of Denver Water to the video?

A.  I haven’t heard from them directly.  But I hear their spokesperson said that the Fraser River will be “better” after the Moffat expansion goes through.  (Chuckles.) That’s what we in the fish community call a “whopper.”  Frankly, it chaps my tail.

Q. What is the main threat to trout in the Upper Colorado? Is it temperature? Stream flows? A combination?

A. All of the above—they’re connected. Low flows lead to higher temperatures. And low flows are caused by the Moffat pipes that drain the streams and send the water to Denver.  One of my friends got sucked into one of those pipes.  I’m wondering if he ended up in Denver.  I haven’t run into him yet.

Q. What do you need to maintain a healthy population in the Fraser/Upper Colorado?

A. My friends and I have some basic needs.  I like my water neat. Cold. And in the stream.  An occasional flushing flow to clean house.  Is that asking for too much?

Q. What, specifically, are you asking Denver Water for?

A. Well, it’s three things, really, they could do:  Provide those flushing flows I just mentioned to get rid of the silt and algae and other gunk. Don’t take water when the temperature is high and could kill fish and other critters.  And monitor the stream in the future to respond to problems caused by the diversion. It’s very doable.

Q. What’s been their reply so far?

A. (Makes sound of crickets chirping.) They say they’ve done enough. Denial is not just a river in Egypt.

Q. Are you angry?

A. Just frustrated. And a little itchy and smelly – dried scales aren’t a lot of fun, you know.  I could use a spa treatment.

Q. Any other messages for your fans?

A. Thanks for your support. It’s humbling, really. So far, hundreds of people have responded to the petition and left comments for Denver Water. It’s given me hope that Coloradans care about their rivers and wildlife.  Bob—may I call you Bob?– this isn’t about me or my charisma – it’s about the future of Colorado’s outdoors.  Please sign the petition at  That would make me very happy. By the way, do you have a drink?

Q. There’s a water jug right next to you.

A. Thanks. . . .Um, could you pick it up for me?


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