The Travel Channel show "Mysteries at the Museum" recently filmed an episode at the Salida Museum
in Colorado, where they dug into the history of the fur-bearing trout.
Back in the late 1930s, a Salida resident, Wilbur Foshay
(who was a bit of a con artist, as well as being a member of the Salida Chamber of Commerce), brought a lot of media attention to the town by claiming that fur-bearing trout could be found in the nearby Arkansas River. But he complained that the fur-bearing trout could never be caught because fishing wasn't allowed in Colorado rivers during January, when the fish was most active. So he was urging the Colorado Game and Fish Association to allow a special exception to allow fur-bearing trout fishing in January.
Los Angeles Times
The Pueblo Chieftain
- Jan 10, 1939
has some more details:
Foshay's story came complete with lots of details like the best bait to catch the fur-bearing trout was the "snow worm." He said those who tried to catch the fish had to have a special winter license specifically for fur-bearing trout.
The craze didn't stop with Foshay. One local musician, Ray Rainey, wrote a song about "Patricia" the fur-bearing trout.
Foshay had a taxidermist create two fur-bearing trout. One of them remains on display at the Salida Museum. The other is owned by the Mount Shavano Fish Hatchery.
The Pueblo Chieftain article includes a nice picture of Bob Campbell of the Salida Museum posing with their fur-bearing trout. And there's another picture of Campbell (with trout) posted at The Mountain Mail website
But I should correct one detail in the Pueblo Chieftain
article. It states that the fur-bearing trout was "a promotional story created by Wilbur Foshay." But Foshay didn't create the story. Tales of fur-bearing trout were circulating long before the 1930s. Foshay simply took advantage of the legend of the fish to help promote Salida.