Here’s is just a sampling of the type of article you’ll find included in the 2014 Hunting and Fishing Guide inserted in today’s Examiner.
The task of maintaining the balance of native and non-native fish species falls onto Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) to closely monitor population levels and take proactive measures to keep healthy levels of highly sought game fish and native populations. The official mission of the ODFW is to provide an opportunity for hunters and anglers to utilize resources currently while conserving populations for future generations.
Through the utilization of two local fish hatcheries and year-long research by ODFW staff, lakes and streams are supplemented on an annual basis with fish in both native and non-native species. Fish hatcheries maintain three classes of grown species; fingerlings (3-5 inches), legals (8-10 inches) and trophies (14-16 inches). Of these, further classification is separated out by diploids and triploids, diploids being capable of reproducing in the wild while triploids are sterile.
The balance between determining how many fingerlings, legals and trophies should be deposited in local reservoirs requires scientific research, monitoring and feedback from local anglers to ensure that species food supplies are prevalent, and in turn fishing stays plentiful.
“Some lakes we sample every year,” said ODFW Fish Biologist Dave Banks. “The point is to evaluate what is there, are they growing, total numbers, the size of fish, and to see if people are happy with what they are catching.”
The sampling process and evaluation of reservoir fish populations is accomplished either through selective gill net use or angling to gain a sample size representation without decimating the population. The more popular reservoirs for fishing will get sampled more often to make sure game fish populations, in particular the Redband Trout, are being maintained. Data is then compared to previous years, combined with weather patterns and surveying anglers to come up with reservoir management plans.
“In our lakes for the most part there’s not native populations of game fish, so the utilization aspect is to add game fish for anglers,” said Banks. “We evaluate conditions, determine if our stocking is causing too many or too few fish, and we adjust our stock management accordingly to even out populations and growth.”
Native species fish management is mostly for streams and rivers. Oregon regulations limit stream fishing to artificial fly and lure casting only, with a two-catch limit for native species. Non-native game fish ODFW works to make available for anglers in local streams beyond Redband Trout include Brook Trout, Bass, Blue Gill, Crappie, Yellow Perch and Channel Catfish.
After the samples are done, data crunched, surveys collected and management plans completed, the final step of the stocking process is a rather simple and unscientific process. The number of fingerlings, legals and trophies are ordered from Klamath Hatchery or Desert Springs Hatchery, loaded on trucks, and dumped directly into waterways.
“Depending on the plan we may throw up to 1,500 catchable fish into a lake, then talk to anglers to see what they’re catching and what they like,” said Banks.