DFG tries to reintroduce Lahontan Cutthroat to Lake Tahoe

Opening of dove season nears
By: George deVilbiss/Special to Gold Country News Service
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The Department of Fish and Game hopes to reestablish a population of the true native Lahontan Cutthroat trout in Lake Tahoe, and 70,000 young fish made a big splashdown about a month ago.

A reader wrote to remind me that Lake Tahoe’s population of Lake Trout — more commonly called mackinaw — are not native to Lake Tahoe. The only true native is the Lahontan Cutthroat.

That is true. The Lahontan Cutthroat dates back 70,000 years in Lake Tahoe but virtually disappeared with two reasons cited: One, a healthy appetite that supported a commercial fishery; two, the big mackinaw munched on them as a great food source.

It was officially declared around 1938 that the Lahontan Cutthroat no longer was present in Lake Tahoe’s waters.

If either the mackinaw was eliminated or commercial fishing wasn’t allowed, would there now be a native population of the Lahontan Cutthroat?

That’s now a rhetorical question, but I would argue the commercial fishery had a greater impact on the Lahontan Cutthroat population than did the introduction of mackinaw. As a comparison, look what happened to the population of bison throughout the United States when they were hunted commercially.

Lake Trout were introduced into Lake Tahoe before 1900, when they were brought west from Michigan. At that time, besides the mackinaw, the commercial fishery in Lake Tahoe was going strong.

And since then, a great many other species have been introduced into the lake, including rainbow, brook and German brown trout in the early 1900s.

Kokanee salmon, a landlocked species of sockeye salmon, were added by the DFG in the 1940s, primarily as a food source for the big trout. They weren’t expected to survive but wound up thriving and became a fishery of their own.

Even warm-water fish such as bass, sunfish and catfish were introduced into the lake in the late 1980s, early 1990s and thrive in some areas.

Crawdads are in the lake. They aren’t native and were discovered in the mid 1930s. Mysis shrimp were put into the lake as a food source primarily for the kokanee salmon in the mid 1960s.

Will the introduction of the Lahontan Cutthroat survive? Only time will tell.

Dove season to open

Bird hunters eagerly await the opening of the state’s dove hunting season, which has yet to be announced by the DFG.

The season should open on its traditional date of Thursday, Sept. 1, and run for 15 days.

It’s a relaxed shoot. It’s a fun shoot.

While the best hunting dictates you get into the field at virtually the crack of dawn, it’s a time when you can be out there in a short-sleeve shirt with a box or two of shells. If you scout ahead of time and find a decent flyway path, you stand in one spot and fire away with little physical effort.

The only downside is swarms of mosquitoes early, so have the repellant handy. Once the sun begins warming the air, they generally disappear.

Opening day always provides the best shooting. The birds haven’t been shot at so they’re easy targets. After a few rounds have been fired, they wise up quickly and their flight patterns can become squirrely, twisting, doing barrel rolls.

Put out a couple of decoys where they can be seen, like on a fence line. I use up to a half dozen, and they work quite well. They may not attract birds as duck decoys will, but they can put the birds more at ease as they near your position.

Most hunters go on opening day and maybe the second. Few hunt the full 15 days. Just know you have 15 days available to add birds to the bag.

The limit is 10 birds per day with 20 in possession, and only the mourning dove is allowed. If you pluck your birds in the field, as I do, leave one wing feathered so the bird can be identified in case you’re checked by a warden.

Shooting times are one-half hour before sunrise to sunset. You’ll need the Upland Bird Stamp with your 2011-12 hunting license.

Current fishing

Lake Oroville: The lake is all but to the brim, and the bass fishing is wide open. Sticking 40 bass in an outing isn’t uncommon. The topwater bite is good in early mornings and late afternoons. Japanese Pond Smelt escaped many years ago from Lake Almanor and wound up in Oroville, now providing quite a food source for many fish, including bass. When bass push them to the surface, any wounded-looking lure will get you bit. Roboworms and Senkos are taking their share as well.

Local salmon: It’s hit and miss at the mouths of the Feather River at Verona and the American River at Discovery. One day, there are fish being caught; the next, you sit and watch your pole sit idle. Just put in the time, and eventually, your rod will take that wanting dive. Salmon-specific spinners and Kwikfish are getting bit. In the Nimbus Dam basin, there are more anglers trying than there are salmon being caught.

Folsom Lake: Get on the water early and, if you can, on a weekday. There are too many recreational boaters on weekends to do any good. You have to do considerable casting to get bit. It’s downright tough in these summer doldrums, but cranks, plastics and topwater offerings occasionally are getting bit.

Contact George deVilbiss at