Gone Fishin’: Illegal fish introduction hurting waters
There have been a few articles regarding the Northern Pike situation at Davis Lake near Portola this spring.
Most of them have come up with the same conclusion: the pike are really making a strong comeback in this lake. This should be no surprise because the panel of pike experts that were called in to answer questions regarding how to control these voracious fish agreed that Davis provided an ideal habitat for them.
Pike do well in lakes that have extensive shallows and weedbeds. Davis Lake certainly fits this description. The latest field summary published on the Department of Fish and Game Web site would seem to support the comeback of these pesky fish. The surveys began in March.
In April and May only 40 and 30 pike showed up in the sample. In June however, an eye-opening 329 pike were sampled. While these numbers are still low in relation to the same rainbow trout population sampled that month of 2,515, it is a real concern because the pike are really reproducing well in spite of all the measures that have been taken to control them.
Other things of note in this field summary include the fact that there were quite a few other species of fish within the sample. In addition to the rainbow and pike, there were Brown Bullhead, Golden Shiner, Pumpkinseed Sunfish, brook trout, brown trout and single Largemouth Bass. Either some of these fish had survived the chemical treatment or they have been reintroduced. In the case of the Golden Shiner, many people use these for bait and bring them up from the valley. The numbers are pretty high, which may make a case for someone reintroducing them.
This has always been a serious problem. The introduction of the Golden Shiner ruined one of my favorite brook trout lakes years ago. Miller Lake on the west shore of Lake Tahoe was a terrific lake that produced brook trout that were measured in pounds. Someone fishing with Golden Shiners probably released the remaining bait in their buckets, beginning the decline of the lake. The Golden Shiners took over the lake and the brook trout fishing became non-existent.
Whether it is Golden Shiners, Pike or some other species such as the Lake Trout in Yellowstone Lake that are now threatening the native Yellowstone Cutthroat populations, illegal introduction of fish is a huge problem.
While there are serious consequences for those that get caught, most people doing this just have no idea of the problems that they could be causing. Only a truly selfish individual would illegally introduce a species for his or her enjoyment.
While Davis Lake may still be fishing well for rainbows, the battle continues to be waged to control the population of these predators. The Department of Fish and Game are removing them with electro-shocking gill nets and the preferred purse seining method. The Steering Committee and the DFG is planning on keeping the lake level low to prevent fish from escaping the lake and a weir is in place to prevent fish from escaping through the only other water release point.
If you should catch a pike at Davis Lake, here is what you should do. No northern pike, dead or alive, may be released into any water at any time. All northern pike taken shall be killed immediately by removing the head and shall be retained by the angler.
The angler shall notify the Department that he/she has taken and possesses a northern pike by calling the Department’s CalTip telephone number (1-888-DFG-CALTIP) as soon as possible, but not more than 24 hours after taking the northern pike. The angler shall maintain the head and body of the fish in a refrigerated or frozen condition, whenever possible, until the Department collects the northern pike.
It certainly appears that this is an uphill battle for the DFG and the rest of the Steering Committee. The pike seem to be firmly entrenched in the lake and it would seem that it is only a matter of time before their numbers will outstrip that of the other sport fish in the lake. It is a situation that really saddens me, and agitates me too.
Illegal fish introductions hurt many people and communities that have counted on the tourism dollars brought in by their outstanding trout fishing. Davis Lake is only the most recent on a list of unfortunate waters impacted by the awful deeds of some misguided individuals.
Check out the fishing report online at http://www.tahoe.com
Boca – (9,706 ac. ft.) Boca has been fishing fair and is dropping rapidly. Water is being released at 180 CFS and only 104 CFS is coming into the lake. In spite of the low water levels anglers are still having success. Anglers near the dam are still catching fish. Most anglers use nightcrawlers or Powerbait. Boats that can still be launched are having some success. Most were using a combination of flashers and a nightcrawler or minnow imitating lure. Kokanee fishing is good for those experienced anglers that can get a boat in the water. Flyfishermen near the inlet have experienced fair to good action early and late. Nymphs and streamers have accounted for most of the fish caught recently. When it calms down, midges are very productive.
Donner Lake – Fishing has been fair to good. Anglers fishing for rainbows on the west end and near the launch ramp have had fair to good success. Nightcrawlers and Powerbait seem to be the main bait. Trollers using minnow imitating lures have had fair success.
Lake Tahoe – (Elevation 6,225.86) Fishing has been good for mackinaw. Most fish are in the five to seven pound range. A guide is highly recommended if you are fishing for mackinaw for the first time. Toplining and shore fishing is fair overall. The creeks opened this past weekend. Keep in mind that any large fish that you catch are most likely fish that have come out of the lake to spawn. Please release these fish. No fishing is also allowed within 300 ft. of these tributaries.
Martis Lake – (Martis is restricted to artificial lures with barbless hooks. Zero fish may be bagged or possessed) Fishing has been fair to good. Most activity has been early and late with blood midges and callibaetis imitations. Most anglers are using nymphs such as the Hares Ear, Pheasant Tail, Damselfly imitations or the A.P. Streamers that imitate small fish, and woolly buggers are also good choices. For surface activity, patterns such as the Quigley Cripple, Martis Midge, Parachute Adams, and Griffith’s Knat are good choices.
Little Truckee River – (This area between Stampede Reservoir downstream to Boca Reservoir is now subject to artificial barbless lures with a two fish bag limit of fish 14 inches maximum) – (104 cubic feet per second) Fishing here has been fair in the stretch between Stampede and Boca. Fishing has been fair near the inlet area of the Little Truckee into Boca reservoir. This area changes almost daily. Fly fishermen fishing this stretch between Stampede and Boca are experiencing frequent hatches where a dry flies and emergers have been productive. Nymphs and streamers are still the first choice if there are no fish on the surface.
Prosser – (11,329 ac. ft.) Prosser has been fishing fair. Fishing here is mostly with nightcrawlers or Powerbait. Flyfishermen near the inlets have taken a few fish mostly on nymphs and streamers.
Stampede – (176,627 ac. ft.) Stampede is fair to good. Shore anglers are catching a few more fish. Most use the typical baits, nightcrawlers or Powerbait. Topliners have fair to good success for kokanee salmon. Most use a flasher of some sort and a kokanee bug or wedding ring with a piece of white corn. Look for improvement as the weather warms. There is still good action, mostly subsurface, with nymphs such as the pheasant tail and the bird’s nest. There is some good surface activity early and late as well. Streamers are also working.
Truckee River – The release from the dam at Tahoe City is 369 cubic feet per second and near Truckee it is running at 377 cubic feet per second. Fishing has been fair throughout the river. Seasoned anglers have been doing well. Prince nymphs, Bird’s nests and pheasant tail nymphs have produced some fish as well as streamers. Try an elk hair caddis, hares ear parachute or an E/C caddis. A grasshopper pattern can work well at times as well. Fishing has hit the typical summer early morning or late evening peaks in activity throughout our local waters.
Other Waters – Jackson Meadows has been fishing well. Davis and Frenchman lakes are fishing fair this past week.
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