LAKE TAHOE — Anglers hoping to hook into Lake Tahoe’s only native trout this year won’t have the benefit of the Nevada Department of Wildlife’s stocking program this year.
“We don’t have any trout to put in there,” said NDOW spokesman Chris Healy.
Last year, the agency put more than 20,000 of the fish into Lake Tahoe. Hoping to continue the stocking, the agency planned on stocking again this summer. But last year’s winter storms prevented NDOW staff from harvesting the eggs to grow the fish at their Mason Valley Hatchery near Yerington.
“We usually harvest the eggs in the first week of June,” Healy said. “But we couldn’t get in to Marlette Lake in time.”
If the eggs aren’t gathered from the population in Marlette Lake at the right time, they aren’t any good, Healy said. The snows also blocked a lot of the Lahontan cutthroat from spawning. If the fish can’t spawn, they’ll actually re-absorb the eggs, he said.
Last year’s Lake Tahoe drop was mostly well-received by fishermen in the area, according to surveys conducted by NDOW.
“In general, the feedback we received from this effort was mostly positive,” Healy said. “People were excited about the opportunity to catch native trout in Tahoe.”
Lisa Haki, the complex manager of the National Fish and Wildlife Service’s Lahontan National Fish Hatchery in Gardnerville, said it won’t be planting any Lahontan cutthroat either, though officials do plan to work with NDOW and other agencies to put the fish into Lake Tahoe in the future.
“We don’t have the allocation this year,” Haki said. “The future plan is to provide a recreation allocation for Lake Tahoe.”
Instead of Lahontan cutthroat, NDOW will plant 50,000 sterile rainbow trout into Lake Tahoe this year. The department makes them sterile by heat-treating the fertilized eggs for a short period of time.
“The whole goal is to not stock rainbows that are reproducing in Lake Tahoe,” Healy said. “But don’t forget there are plenty of rainbows that ascend tributaries and reproduce naturally already.”
It is unclear whether the agencies are attempting to reintroduce Lahontan cutthroat trout to Lake Tahoe or are just stocking the fish as an additional interest to anglers. A reintroduction effort would take a lot more work than simply adding a few Lahontans for anglers, Healy said.
Last year, putting the fish into Lake Tahoe was labeled as a temporary program aimed at generating a response from anglers.
NDOW will resume the stocking next year, he added.
“The odds are that we’ll be into Marlette Lake in plenty of time this year,” Healy said.