Third Generation Leads Family Fish Farm into the Future

 Photography by  Tyler Logan

Photography by Tyler Logan

Don Nichols was party to his first fisherman’s tale at age 18 months. The common elements in versions of this family legend are his photo in the newspaper, a really big fish, and a trophy for a Colorado state record. It’s not quite clear whether Nichols or his father actually made the impressive catch, but either way, Nichols was “hooked” at a young age. His lifelong love for fish and fishing has never been questioned. In fact, it’s a family tradition that has continued for three more generations and is still going strong.

  Longtime fisherman Don Nichols built his Collbran hatchery in 1960.

Longtime fisherman Don Nichols built his Collbran hatchery in 1960.

    In 1960, Nichols built a hatchery and a system of ponds at his home on Buzzard Creek in Collbran. Utilizing the flow of 12 converging mountain springs, the operation is known to the public as Indian Springs Fish Farm. To Nichols’ children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, it is known as the best place to hang out with Grandpa.

    Now, Nichols’ grandson Joshua Lloyd is taking the lead on the fish farm’s future. He plans to continue raising brook, rainbow, and cutthroat trout species for trophy pond stocking, and to expand into the fresh- and canned-meat markets.

    “My kids love this, just like I did growing up,” Lloyd says. “I don’t view it as work when we are stocking and working with the fish on the weekends. It’s part of our heritage and our family tradition. I’m excited to create a business out of something we do as a family anyway. There is so much potential here if we execute it properly, and my career up to this point has prepared me for it.”

    Trout raised here for meat will be sold under Lloyd’s new Co-Trout-Co brand (cotroutco.net), and the flagship product will be a true native Colorado cutthroat trout. For the highest quality and pinkest meat he will forgo use of any commercial feed. Lloyd plans to continue providing the most natural environment possible by raising freshwater shrimp, attracting insects to the ponds with solar lights, protecting the fish from natural predators, and maintaining a healthy spring/pond ecosystem.

    “We will also be utilizing technology to optimize the whole operation,” he says. Though Nichols has a natural tendency to do things the old-fashioned way, “Grandpa’s OK with it, as long as we keep carrying the torch,” Lloyd says.

    Other important plans include reviving old traditions. “School groups, families, nursing home groups — people used to come up here and fish out by the pound for dinner all the time,” Lloyd says. “I’d like to start that up again. Bringing people up here to enjoy this place is one of my favorite things, because we all love it so much.”

    As a husband, father of two, owner of a drilling company, and entrepreneurial spirit, Lloyd has many other “poles in the water.” Still, he says, “sitting by this pond and feeding the fish is one of the most therapeutic things I do.” Nichols agrees, and often joins his grandson there.