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Illegal fish plants pose problem at lakes

by Bruce Ajari

Recently there has been quite a bit of attention focused on the problems at Davis Lake near Portola and the serious problem the illegal introduction of the northern pike has caused. Millions of dollars have been spent and more money is now being spent on the recent control efforts.

Most fisheries experts call the control process a waste of time and money. They believe that nothing short of eradication will work.

This has been the most flagrant case of illegal fish planting, but there are certainly others that have had impacts just as serious.

Most illegal introductions occur without much forethought. The most common situation that exists is the one where an angler will bring minnows with him from his home area. After fishing for the day, he releases the minnows into the lake or reservoir.

While this may seem to be a benign practice, native or other desirable species can be out-competed for food, according to John Hiscox, a Department of Fish and Game biologist.

Many examples of this exist in our region, but two lakes that I fished on the west shore of Lake Tahoe, Buck and Miller lakes, come to mind.

These two lakes boasted some tremendous brook trout fishing. It was not uncommon to see fish weighing several pounds caught regularly. Someone probably dumped minnows into this lake after fishing, causing the population of brook trout to plummet. The minnows out-competed the trout for food and eventually took over the lakes. Fishing there is no longer good.

While most illegal introductions can be characterized as oversights on the part of anglers, the ones that are planned are much more serious. Cases like the northern pike introduction would fall into this category.

In one recent incident, a Grass Valley man was caught planting fish without a permit into Scotts Flat Lake.

He was caught planting approximately 400 channel catfish, thanks to employees at Scotts Flat Marina who witnessed the event, got a license number and called the Department of Fish and Game.

In that incident, the person actually had the fish shipped from a Georgia aquiculture farm. Due to lack of oxygen, only 400 of 1,000 fingerlings survived shipping.

Warden Wade Johnson was able to track the guilty party by the license number provided by witnesses. The man was arrested and pled guilty in Nevada County Superior Court.

He was fined $1,465 for the offense.

Of concern to us in the above incident is that the person planting the catfish also reportedly dumped some fingerlings into a “pond near his sister’s house in Truckee.” This is very worrisome.

Whether the introduction of illegal fish is planned or unplanned, the results are the same.

No one wants to see great fishing waters ruined by introducing species that out-compete existing gamefish population.

The northern pike introduction at Davis Lake should heighten everyone’s awareness of the problem of putting fish where they do not belong. As the Department of Fish and Game puts it, “bucket biology” can ruin a fishery.

If you see an illegal introduction of fish, call the CalTIP number to report it immediately. The number is 1-888-DFG-CalTIP.

Fishing Report

Boca – (34,412 ac. ft.) Boca has been fishing fair to good. Most anglers fishing from shore near the inlet are having some success.

The area near the dam is also fishing well. Most anglers use nightcrawlers or Powerbait. Boaters are having some success. Most were using a combination of flashers and a nightcrawler or minnow imitating lure. Kokanee fishing has been good. Fly-fishermen near the inlet should have fair to good action using a variety of nymphs, streamers and emergers.

Donner – Fishing has been fair to good. Most anglers fishing for rainbows on the west end and near the launch ramp have had fair to good success. A few large fish continue to be reported. Nightcrawlers and Powerbait seem to be the main bait. Trollers using minnow imitating lures have had fair to good success. Fish were supposed to be planted this past week.

Lake Tahoe – (Elevation 6,228.71) Fishing has been good for Mackinaw trout. A guide is highly recommended if you are fishing for Mackinaw for the first time. Toplining and shore fishing is improving. Remember tributaries to Tahoe are closed to all fishing until July 1 and closes again on Sept. 30. No fishing is also 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 only been fair overall. Blood midges are showing due to the mild winter.

Others 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 Quiqley 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 bag limit, 14 inches maximum) – Fishing here is fair to good.

Fly-fishermen fishing this stretch between Stampede and Boca concentrate on nymphs and streamers with occasional hatches where a dry fly will work.

Prosser – (25,000 ac. ft.) Prosser is filling and fishing has been fishing fair to good. Fishing here is mostly with nightcrawlers or Powerbait.

Fly-fishermen near the inlets are fishing primarily with nymphs and streamers. Prosser was scheduled for planting this past week.

Stampede – (217,535 ac. ft.) Stampede is fair to good. Most shore anglers are catching some very nice fish. Most use the typical baits, nightcrawlers or Powerbait.

Topliners have fair to good success for kokanee salmon.

Most used a flasher of some sort and a kokanee bug or wedding ring with a piece of white corn. Kokanee fishing should be best in early low light hours or in the evening as the weather warms up.

Truckee River – The release is still at 74 cubic feet per second from the dam at Tahoe City. In the Truckee area the river is running higher than last week at 480 cubic foot per second rate.

Seasoned anglers can do well. Most fish being caught in the special regulation areas are being caught on large nymphs or streamers.


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