Bruce Ajari: Ethics should be applied when spring fishing
Many fish in our region spawn in the spring, including popular local species such as the rainbow and cutthroat trout.
Rainbows will begin their migration from our many lakes into the feeder streams that provide them with the gravel and moving water they need to accomplish their spring ritual to ensure a future generation of fish.
Our native fish in the area, the Lahontan cutthroat, is beginning its trek to an artificial spawning ritual at Pyramid Lake in Nevada. This lake entirely on the Paiute Reservation northeast of Reno has some tremendous numbers of this threatened species.
Even though they are on the threatened list, sport fishing is permitted for these fish. Spring is one of the prime seasons for catching them because they move into shallow water where shore anglers may easily catch them.
An individual should consider the ethics in targeting fish that are making spawning runs to provide us with even more fish to pursue. Many people catch and keep these fish. Even though most fly fishers practice catch-and-release, there is still some mortality that can be attributed to this venture.
As a result, I feel that fish that are spawning in the wild should be left alone. These are genetically our best fish to allow us to continue providing sport for our future years to come. Fishing over them, particularly when they are on their redds (nests), is really not very sporting. You can catch them too easily, since they are in a protective mode. Where’s the sport in that?
On the other hand, fish such as the Lahontan cutthroat in Pyramid Lake that are hatchery operations can be fished. The hatchery takes and spawns the number they need to provide the eggs for the coming year. This is a relatively small number of fish considering the total population. This is also accomplished fairly early in the season.
As a result, fishing for the remaining population of fish that are in spawning mode has an insignificant affect. The future has been taken care of by the egg-taking at the hatchery. It would be nice if everyone practiced catch-and-release during this time, but the tribe does allow a two-fish limit. Most fly fishers appear to be adhering to a strict catch-and-release policy.
The quality of these fish has improved greatly over the past several years due to the hatchery process and the slot limit that was initiated some years ago. The proof of this success is that the slot limit size for the fish was raised by 1 inch this past year. Fish are getting bigger and those of us who fish this lake regularly can attest to this fact. We are seeing many fish weighing more than 10 pounds each year. This was quite rare in the last three decades.
In the wild, the fish are at our mercy to do the right thing. In a lake such as Pyramid, there are forces in place to ensure the future because of the hatchery operation. Please keep this in mind the next time you are in your favorite stream during the spring or fall spawning periods.
” Bruce Ajari is a Truckee resident and regular fishing columnist for the Sierra Sun and other area newspapers.