The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will host a historic fish-planting event this weekend at Lake Tahoe.
The Lahontan National Fish Hatchery Complex will release 5,000 Lahontan cutthroat trout back into their native waters on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 5-6. The event is part of an educational outreach on behalf of the hatchery, as well as USDA Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Nevada Department of Wildlife, Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California.
The Pilot Peak strain of the Lahontan cutthroat trout is the only trout native to Lake Tahoe.
According to the fish hatchery complex manager Lisa Heki, the trout went extinct in the basin due to land management policies, such as logging, and overfishing in the late 1930s.
“Saturday will be the first time the original strain will be introduced back into the lake,” Heki said.
The Pilot Peak strain has been introduced into Fallen Leaf Lake and some of those have made their way to Lake Tahoe over the years.
Heki said this release is an educational opportunity for the public to get to know the native species of Tahoe.
Outside of the education component, this release will likely have a positive impact on the basin although it’s unknown how much affect the release will have to again establish the species.
“This will provide important shoreline fishing opportunities,” Heki said.
Heki went on to say that this is important to the angler community and with state regulations in place, she’s not concerned about seeing the same overfishing problem the basin saw in the 1930s.
Although the Lahontan cutthroat trout is listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act, a special rule under the act still allows for permitted angling.
Not only is the release important for recreation, but for water quality and basin health.
Heki said the trout was once a top predator in the lake.
“This will help bring back some equilibrium into the basin,” Heki said.
The releases will be held at noon Saturday and Sunday at Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit’s Taylor Creek Visitor Center and Kiva Beach.
The Nevada Department of Wildlife will continue tracking the trout after their release.
To learn more, visit https://www.fws.gov/lahontannfhc.