Flood muddies lake fish
When the New Year’s floodwaters came, land dwellers headed for high ground but what about the fish that require water for survival? Was more better?
According to officials at the Nevada Division of Wildlife the flooding brought excessive silt and and mud into fish habitat, making life rough on the fish.
Mike Sevon, supervisor of fisheries for region one, said that the survival of trout stocked in Topaz Lake will be a little less than in the past.
He added the muddy conditions will affect the success of the angler because the fish won’t be able to see to find food.
The ability of the angler to make a catch combined with the storm-caused closure of Highway 395 will affect the success of Topaz businesses which are on the high end of the lake’s food chain. While fisherman can go to their local grocery store to find other provisions, Topaz businesses won’t get as many bites until conditions on the lake have cleared up.
Patrick Sollberger, Nevada fisheries biologist, said he was out on the lake during the first of the year and not many people were fishing.
He said that people tend to stay away from muddy conditions because it is not good for angling.
Also, “It’s a matter of aesthetics,” he said. “People don’t want to fish that kind of stuff.”
Sevon said if flows into Topaz are clear, then it will be take six weeks for the lake to settle down.
Sollberger added that with the construction on the west Walker River complete, the flows should be clear.
“Hopefully by summer the lake will clear up,” he said.
Despite the lack of enthusiasm by fishermen, Sollberger said the people who were fishing around the first of the year are doing OK.
He reported about 1-1/2 fish per angler, “not too bad considering conditions.”
He also noted that the fish were healthy and averaging 12 inches.
The Nevada Division of Wildlife stocks Topaz with fish after Topaz’s fishing season ends in September, Sollberger said. For the 1997 fishing season, 38,000 trout were stocked.
The stocked fish start at about 8 1/2 inches, he said.
When fishing season opens at Topaz Jan. 1, the fish have grown an average 2 to 4 inches. By mid-summer, the fish are up to 17 inches, he added.
“We have a very good growth rate at Topaz,” he added.
Officials at California Fish and Game said they also stock Topaz with trout in October.
This year California proposes to stock 29,000, 9-to-12-inch trout.
Sevon said even though Topaz is cloudy, it is so productive that trolling with cowbells would be effective in attracting fish. He also recommended bait be used for fishing in muddy water instead of lures so as to attract fish by their sense of smell.
Sollberger said he thought the fish in the lakes will not be as adversely affected by the flood as fish living in the river systems.
“Sometimes in the river, with an (flood) event like the one we just had, the fish don’t come out of it too good,” he said.
With high flows, much of the fish’s food source is flushed out, he said.
He said that flooding in river systems caused harsh conditions for fish.
“It’s like living in the back seat of your car compared to living in a nice hotel,” he said. “A lake is a pretty nice place for a fish.”