Controversy on Stocking Hatchery Fish
June 22, 2010
State biologists gauging the environmental impact of hatchery-raised trout have approved stocking all 60 of the north state lakes, rivers and creeks they’ve examined.
Those include Lake Shasta, Trinity Lake and Eagle Lake.
“The 60 that they’ve chosen are the most used,” said Frank Galusha of Shingletown, editor of myoutdoorbuddy.com, an online outdoor news magazine.
But there are another 254 bodies of water that still need to be surveyed before the state will stock them with trout. A lawsuit by a pair of conservation groups prompted the review of how stocking trout affects 85 species – from other fish to frogs to songbirds – before the state can approve putting the fish into the water.
“Just because we find those species, that doesn’t mean we are going to stop stocking there,” said Steve Baumgartner, district biologist for the state Department of Fish and Game.
Baumgartner has a crew of six biologists doing the surveys and expects all waters to be checked this year.
“It’s our top priority,” he said.
It’s a slow process, though, Baumgartner said, and it’s caused a delay in stocking some popular north state fishing holes with trout.
“We can’t do all of them at one time,” he said.
Just recently approved for stocking are Baum Lake, Grace Lake, Lower and Middle Burney Creek, McCloud Reservoir, Middle and Upper Hat Creek, and Whiskeytown Lake in Shasta County; as well as South Fork Battle Creek and Deer creeks in Tehama County
Lake McCumber near Shingletown likely will be added to the list later this week, Baumgartner said.
While they wait to find out whether their favorite fishing hole will be stocked or not, some anglers complain that their fishing license isn’t worth the $41.50 they paid for it because of the delays in stocking, Galusha said.
“The fishermen didn’t get what they paid for,” he said.
Trout season started April 24 in the north state and runs until Nov. 15.
Saying stocked trout could be forcing a drop in populations for native animals, the Pacific Rivers Council and the Center for Biological Diversity filed a lawsuit in 2006 asking the DFG to evaluate how much of an impact the fish might have before approving to stock them. While in the courts, a judge hearing the case ordered a partial halt to stocking, mostly in high mountain lakes in 2008.
Baumgartner said DFG biologists will be evaluating whether to start stocking those lakes again this year, although an unusually long north state winter has left some of the lakes still frozen and covered in snow.
“Things are still locked up,” he said.
He said those lakes likely will be stocked next month, if they’re approved for hatchery-raised trout.