Tahoe Lobster Co., anglers meet to discuss crawfish harvest concerns
Representatives of the Tahoe Lobster Co. met Thursday with several South Shore anglers to discuss concerns that the crawfish harvest will negatively impact fishing in Tahoe. Tahoe Lobster Co., the first commercial fishing operation to come to Tahoe since the 1930s, acquired the permit to catch and sell the crustaceans in July. The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and other organizations have praised the company’s efforts to remove the invasive species from the lake, but some sportfishermen worry that they’ll lose lures on the submerged traps. Fred Jackson, owner of Tahoe Lobster Co., opened the discussion Thursday at the Tahoe & Truckee River Fisheries Coalition meeting by stating his desire to foster open communication between the two parties. “I’d like to work with these guys and actually give them a map of where we’re working. I’m willing to do anything with the fishing community. I can’t speak for anybody else but my business, but we’re here to open the dialog,” Jackson said. Operator of Blue Ribbon Fishing Charters Gene St. Denis and Leonard O’Malley of O’Malley Fishing Charters —the only licensed outfitters at Thursday’s meeting —said their primary concern was snagging the submerged traps with fishing lines. If a guide catches a trap with the lure, it will cost him or her valuable time and equipment, O’Malley said. That scenario could be the reason behind the loss of almost 80 Tahoe Lobster Co. traps that disappeared last fall. Jackson posited that an inexperienced fishermen might have hooked the line before throwing the catch back into the water. And the anglers don’t want to be held responsible for accidentally pulling up a trap. “It’s a challenge to me. I take people out sport fishing, so if I don’t know where your traps are and I come across it and I get snagged up with a $30 lure … If I get caught in your traps, I got to put that time back onto my client’s time. I don’t want you to think I’m taking your traps,” O’Malley said. If more crawfish companies start to drop traps, the anglers worry that areas of shoreline could become “minefields” for guides. TRPA Senior Fisheries and Wildlife Biologist Patrick Stone said Thursday he’s received one application and heard from three other interested groups since the agency approved four more crawfish permits last year. Jackson said it’s too expensive to mark each trap with a Coast Guard-approved buoy, but he could float two buoys to mark the area where the company had laid traps. Stone suggested that the TRPA could create an email list or website with the GPS coordinates of the markers that would be available to sportsfishermen. Both St. Denis and O’Malley approved of the potential solution, stating that the more information the fishing community has, the better. “We’re willing to do this right … It’s always learning to avoid things, and I think we can do that with what we’ve discussed here,” St. Denis said. “We can give that a shot. And I’ll do everything I can to press the word on that, ‘Hey, lets be professional and give the devil its due.’”
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