Pike threatening Comins Lake trout, bass | SierraSun.com

Pike threatening Comins Lake trout, bass

I found a press release earlier in the month from the Nevada Department of Wildlife very interesting. It related to Comins Lake, located in White Pine County east of Reno. Comins was noted for producing trophy rainbow trout and for the emergence of a largemouth bass fishery.

Unfortunately, someone illegally introduced northern pike into the lake in the late 1990s. The fish have successfully reproduced and, like Lake Davis near Portola, have taken over the fishery.

Nevada Department of Wildlife biologist Chris Crookshanks stated, “We’ve reached a grim milestone with the pike. Because pike numbers are increasing, we’re seeing a reduction in the trout population and the bass fishery is not developing.”

Recent surveys conducted by the Nevada Department of Wildlife show that the population of pike, a voracious predator, has increased dramatically while trout and largemouth bass numbers have declined. This is bad news for anglers who have gotten hooked on the trophy trout fishery. While the trout fishery is in no immediate peril of collapsing, it does mean that ominous times lie ahead, unless something is done.

Pike had an especially successful spawn in 2001 and the fish that resulted from the spawn are now 30 to 36 inches in length ” just the right size for consuming the hatchery-reared rainbow trout that Nevada Department of Wildlife stocks each spring and fall.

Anglers may notice that the trout they catch will be larger but fewer in number, and no smaller fish will be caught. This is the same thing that has happened at Lake Davis.

Besides trout, pike consume largemouth bass, which has thwarted the Nevada Department of Wildlife’s efforts to produce a bass fishery at the lake. Biologists believe that pike eat all of the bass that are spawned in the lake each spring.

While pike are increasing in population and growing in size, if left unchecked, they will gradually decimate the trout and bass fishery and ultimately their own population will crash as well. This is the typical pattern that has been seen by biologists in other lakes where pike have been left unchecked.

Obviously, the Nevada Department of Wildlife does not want to be in the business of raising trout in their hatcheries for pike food. Crookshanks believes that the ultimate solution will involve eradicating pike in the lake and then trying to restore that trophy trout fishery. This is a decision that has already been made at Lake Davis.

As Crookshanks points out, “Everyone should be aware that it is both illegal and irresponsible to introduce fish into a lake. A prime fishery that is extremely valuable to the people of Nevada is threatened by the irresponsible and selfish acts of one or two individuals.”

The correlation to Lake Davis is chilling. However, unlike Lake Davis, where no pike are allowed to be possessed to prevent live transport, there is no limit on the number of pike that can be caught and kept from Comins Lake. The Nevada Department of Wildlife encourages anglers to keep all of the pike they catch and not return them to the lake. Remember the transport of live fish is against the law without the proper permitting.

The Nevada Department of Wildlife points out that Comins Lake is currently covered with ice and fishing has been fairly slow for trout and pike. Information about fishing in Nevada can be obtained at http://www.dnow.org.

Anglers witnessing what they think is someone illegally putting fish into a lake should report what they have seen. Remember, tips can be anonymous and you could be saving a fishery for future generations in the process.

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