Eastern Sierra waters continue to receive fish plants

EASTERN SIERRA MOUNTAINS—California’s Department of Fish and Wildlife has updated its stocking plan for the Eastern Sierras, allowing trout to be planted in the region despite the closure of three hatcheries.

The closed hatcheries, which were located in the Eastern Sierras and Southern California, supplied trout to lakes in Mono and Inyo counties. Those hatcheries – Mojave River, Black Rock and Fish Springs – were forced to shut down after they were contaminated with a bacterial outbreak. CDFW staff tried to treat those hatcheries, but the attempts were unsuccessful.

The outbreak lead to 3.2 million fish being euthanized. Each of the three hatcheries had to be decontaminated, as well. Euthanizing the fish and decontaminating the hatcheries were necessary to stop the spread of Lactococcus garvieae.

Staff with the CDFW Hatchery Program created a “Plan B,” which, according to a statement issued by CDFW, would “ensure that planting could continue in some capacity.”

CDFW staff acknowledged anglers were “understandably concerned about reduced fishing opportunity for the remainder of 2020 and into 2021.”

“CDFW’s multiphase stocking plan calls for the reallocation of fish from lower priority waters in other parts of the state to the highest use waters in areas normally planted by the depopulated hatcheries this time of year,” CDFW staff said in a released statement. “During ‘phase one’ (which began the last week of July and will run through mid-October), 16 water bodies in the Inland Desert and South Coast regions will be stocked with fish from the Moccasin Creek and San Joaquin hatcheries.”

The second phase begins in mid-October and will continue through early spring. Southern California locations would be stocked by the Fillmore Hatchery. Stocking will depend upon whether water temperatures cool down enough for planting.

Phase three will take place in the spring and summer of 2021; CDFW staff said the department would “address stocking for the trout openers and summer angling opportunities” during phase three.

The list of waters – and how many fish would be planted at each waterway – during the second and third phases is still being finalized by CDFW staff.

“The loss of 3.2 million fish is staggering, but we absolutely recognize the importance of these fisheries, and we are doing everything we can to minimize the impact of this loss to anglers and the communities that depend on them, while balancing the needs of the rest of the state,” Jay Rowan, CDFW’s statewide hatchery program manager, explained.

Hot Creek Hatchery near Mammoth, which was not affected by the bacterial outbreak, will continue to plant trout at its Eastern Sierra locations as scheduled.

The three hatcheries affected by the outbreak are still being cleaned. CDFW staff said they hope to have all three hatcheries back online by the fall or winter of 2021.

Anyone who has questions or concerns about the outbreak should contact CDFW staff via email at hatcherybacteriainfo@wildlife.ca.gov.

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