BRIDGEPORT, Calif. - California Lahontan cutthroat trout, squeezed out of their native Sierra habitat by illegally planted brook trout, will be reestablished and nurtured by a consortium of local fly-fishing clubs and the Southwest Council-International Federation of Fly Fishers (SWC-IFFF) in cooperation with the California Department of Fish & Wildlife (CDFW).
Target area is Silver Creek in the West Walker River watershed near Bridgeport.
A base camp will be established at the headwaters of Silver Creek and a team of 4-5 people will assist the CDFW with electro-fishing. The goal of this multi-year event is to eradicate the non-native brook trout so the stream can sustain a currently imperiled population of Lahontan cutthroat trout. Upon competition, Silver Creek will be opened to angling.
The project is being spearheaded by Debbie Sharpton, Oak Park, conservation chair of the San Fernando Valley-based Sierra Pacific Flyfishers and conservation director of the SWC-
IFFF; and Gary Applebee, president of Deep Creek Flyfishers. CDFW coordinator is fisheries biologist Dawne Becker Emery.
A project lead gift of $5,000 from the Sierra Pacific Flyfishers club was shepherded by Sharpton. Funding is being sought from all clubs within SWC-IFFF and other interested organizations or individuals.
Volunteers are needed to assist with this effort. Information for volunteering and donating is available at http://southwestcouncilfff.org/Conservation/swc-ifff-conservation
The brook trout elimination will take place from late July to late Sept., said Emery.
According to the Bishop-based biologist, "Silver Creek, a tributary to the West Walker River in Mono County, is Lahontan cutthroat trout recovery water that was illegally stocked with brook trout. Brook trout were discovered in Silver Creek in 2004 during a survey intended to collect baseline population information to support opening the stream to regulated angling. Lack of ability to utilize efficient methods of brook trout removal that could be completed within two or three seasons has resulted in the lost opportunity of angling for a native Walker Basin cutthroat trout in this mountain meadow stream."
Removal of the voracious brook trout will be accomplished with the introduction of an Alaskan weir, modified to fit the stream, within one mile from the headwaters of Silver Creek.
Immediately downstream of the headwaters, block nets with approximately 1/4-inch mesh will be placed within the channel, where brook trout removal will occur incrementally within block netted sections, working downstream to the weir.
An intern position is available. Go to www.spff.org