Gone Fishin’: Lyme disease is a concern for outdoor enthusiasts | SierraSun.com
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Gone Fishin’: Lyme disease is a concern for outdoor enthusiasts

Bruce Ajari

A fishing buddy gave me a topic for a column that should be of great interest to anyone out and about in the region. He recently contracted Lyme disease, an infection caused by corkscrew-shaped bacteria transmitted by the bite of deer ticks and western black-legged ticks. Although there is some speculation that other species of ticks, as well as other biting insects, may also transmit the disease, more research is needed to determine if these are other transmitters.

Lyme disease can be a serious illness and attack virtually any system in the body. If caught early, it may easily be treated with antibiotics. Fishermen, hunters, campers and just about anyone who is outdoors can be affected by the dangers of the disease.

What makes my friend’s case a bit unique is that he is certain that he picked up the tick while on a walk in the Davis Lake area. Davis Lake is located at an elevation of around 5,775 feet. Cases of Lyme Disease are not typically found at such an elevation according to the Placer County Health Department. The most common occurrences are on the low end of the western slope of the Sierra. With the way our weather was in May, anything is possible.

The problem with this disease is that you may not know you were bitten. In the nymph stage of the deer tick, the mark is about the size of the period at the end of this sentence. Up to 50 percent of people do not recall having a “bull’s-eye” rash. Also, not all Lyme rashes resemble the bull’s-eye. The first symptoms may be a flu-like condition, with fever, chills, headache, stiff neck, aches and fatigue. If you are tested for Lyme disease you may test negative even though you actually have the disease. The blood tests are not consistently reliable.

Lyme disease is a clinical diagnosis and is best diagnosed and treated by a knowledgeable physician. Weeks or months after the bite, you may develop pain in various joints and muscles; neurological problems; heart involvement, problems with vision or hearing, headaches; low-grade fever or other symptoms. Lyme disease symptoms can mimic those of multiple sclerosis, arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome, lupus or Alzheimer’s disease, and can be misdiagnosed as one of these illnesses. The symptoms may come and go and be replaced by new symptoms. Symptoms may be subtle or pronounced. Sound serious? It can be a debilitating illness. The following steps can be utilized to reduce the chances of your contracting Lyme disease:

1. Learn to recognize the tick’s habitat: woods, brush, bushes and tall grass. If you go into such habitats, wear shoes and a hat, tuck long pants into socks and tuck a long-sleeved shirt inside your pants.

2. It may be helpful to use tick repellents on clothing. Follow directions for use.

3. Before going indoors, be sure to brush off your clothing. Once inside, remove all clothing and check carefully for ticks.

4. Carefully remove attached ticks by grasping the tick with fine-point tweezers where the mouth parts enter the skin. Tug gently upwards until it releases its hold. This may take time, so be patient.

5. Save the tick in a covered bottle or small Ziplock bag, with a small piece of slightly moistened paper towel. Write down where you were when bitten, the location of the bite and the date. Refrigerate if the tick is alive. Contact your nearest support group or Lyme disease organization to send the tick in for testing. Your county health departments are primary contacts.

Employing these steps should help you enjoy the outdoors with a greater sense of security. After hearing about this incident, I am certainly going to be more cautious when I am on a fishing outing.

Fishing Report

Boca Reservoir (16,682 ac. ft.) – Boca has been fishing fair and is dropping rapidly. Water is being released at 245 cubic feet per second and only 100 cfs is coming into the lake. It looks bleak for Boca for the rest of the season. Anglers fishing from shore near the inlet are having success. Anglers near the dam are still catching fish. Most anglers use nightcrawlers or Powerbait. Boaters are having success. Most were using a combination of flashers and a nightcrawler or minnow- imitating lure. Kokanee fishing is improving. Fly-fishermen near the inlet have experienced fair action early and late. Nymphs and streamers have accounted for most of the fish caught recently. When it calms down, midges have also produced.

Donner Lake – Fishing has been fair to good. Weekly plants are stimulating action. Anglers fishing for rainbows on the west end and near the launch ramp have had fair-to-good results. Nightcrawlers and Powerbait seem to be the main bait. Trollers using minnow-imitating lures have had fair results.

Lake Tahoe (elevation 6,226.34 feet) – Fishing has been good for Mackinaw. Most fish are in the 5- to 7-pound range. A guide is highly recommended if you are fishing for Mackinaw for the first time. Toplining and shore fishing is fair overall. Remember tributaries to Tahoe are closed to fishing until July 1 and close again Sept. 30. No fishing is allowed within 300 feet of these tributaries.

Martis Lake – (Martis is restricted to artificial lures with barbless hooks. Zero fish may 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 Hare’s 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 Gnat are good choices.

Little Truckee River (100 cfs) – 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. Fishing here has been tapering off a bit as the flows have been reduced. Fishing has been fair near the inlet area of the Little Truckee into Boca reservoir. Fly-fishermen on this stretch between Stampede and Boca concentrate on nymphs and streamers with more frequent hatches where a dry fly can work.

Prosser Lake (12,219 ac. ft.) – Prosser has been fishing fair. Fishing here is mostly with nightcrawlers or Powerbait. Fly-fishermen near the inlets have taken a few fish mostly on nymphs and streamers.

Stampede Reservoir (183,851 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 results for kokanee salmon. Most used 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. Fly-fishing has really taken off. Most inlet areas and coves seem to have working fish. Most action is still subsurface with nymphs such as the pheasant tail and the bird’s nest. Streamers are also working. Hatches are increasing and fish are beginning to get more active.

Truckee River – The release from the dam at Tahoe City has been raised to 278 cfs. In the Truckee area it is running at 295 cfs. The river is now in good shape from Tahoe City on down. Fishing has been fair to good throughout the river. Seasoned anglers have been doing very well. Prince nymphs, Bird’s nests and pheasant tail nymphs have produced some fish as well as streamers. Because of the increasing hatches dry flies are now working as well. Try an elk hair caddis, hare’s ear parachute or an E/C caddis.

Other waters – Jackson Meadows has been fishing well. Davis and Frenchman lakes are fishing fair to good this past week. The damselfly hatch has begun at Davis. Pyramid Lake has slowed for the shore anglers. Boaters should continue to see success trolling during the rest of the season until the lake closes June 30.


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