Sarah Mandell shows off a tui chub captured in a gill net.Sarah Mandell shows off a tui chub captured in a gill net.

This front view of a Tui chub shows the smooth lips of Tui chub. This differs from the fleshy lips of the endangered Cui-ui.This front view of a Tui chub shows the smooth lips of Tui chub. This differs from the fleshy lips of the endangered Cui-ui.

Although Tui chub can be caught in great quantities, they are seldom eaten by humans.Although Tui chub can be caught in great quantities, they are seldom eaten by humans.

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Tui Chub

The Tui chubs are the dominant fish of Pyramid Lake in number and biomass. They are the main prey species for Lahontan cutthroat trout and their annual recruitment is an important indicator of the overall ecosystem health of the lake. There are two forms within the lake. One is the Lahontan Creek Tui chub, Sipheteles bicolor obesa and the Lahontan Lake Tui chub, Sipheteles bicolor pectinifer. They are distinct enough morphologically two classify separately, particularly in their number of gillrakers. They tend to spawn at different times, hence, reducing hybridization. They tend to be dusky olive, brown, or brassy on the back and white to silver on the belly. The younger the fish, the more silvery the body color.

Lahontan cutthroat trout prey on them when they are smaller in size. They tend to congregate along the shallows in the summer and dive to depths lower than 61 meters in the winter and are not as active as in the spring. The spring reappearance of the Tui chubs is observed mid-May. They are primarily foragers, but fisheries has observed that they become predators when they are large adults.

John Snyder, in 1917, wrote of the sporting characteristics of this fish in Pyramid Lake, saying,

"During the summer, 12 to 14 inch Tui chub may be secured with a small spinner trolled at a depth of 20 feet or more. This seems to be the most abundant specie in the lake, approaching the shore at times in enormous schools. They bite eagerly at a spoon or small fly. It is said in the winter very few are ever seen."

Most of the Tui chub caught at Pyramid Lake today are caught by fly fishermen towards the end of the trout season. It is at this time the Tui chub schools that have been hiding in the depths of the lake through the winter come into shore for pre-spawning activity. It is not uncommon for anglers to catch and release over 30 of these scrappy fish in a day of fishing. Though shore fishing interest subsides after the trout season, anglers can cast to schools of Tui chub through the summer and catch one fish after another until the school passes through the area.