A potentially toxic algae bloom continues its fluorescent grip at Lost Creek Reservoir, where a public-health advisory against water contact is entering its 74th day today.
Visual inspections of the lake this week show the persistent presence of the blue-green algae that has tainted the Rogue River basin's largest reservoir since mid-September.
This marks the second time Lost Creek has been under a blue-green algae advisory in December. A similar fall algae outbreak last year lasted a state record 134 days, despite cold water conditions normally not associated with algae blooms.
"The cold weather and the colder water doesn't make it vanish," says Jim Buck, the Rogue Basin operations manager for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. "I guess I'm just not surprised anymore what comes our way."
A similar outbreak, but from a different subspecies of this cyanobacteria commonly called blue-green algae, triggered a Lost Creek Lake advisory June 4, and that one lasted 18 days.
Despite warning signs for the voluntary advisory, anglers launching boats at the lake's Takelma boat ramp have been catching nice stringers of rainbow trout 15-18 inches.
The trout are safe to eat, provided anglers remove all the fish's fat, skin and organs before cooking because toxins are more likely to collect in these tissues, according to the state Department of Human Services.
Not all blooms create toxic water conditions, which are most common when the algae dies and the toxins are released.
Exposure to toxins can produce symptoms such as numbness, tingling and dizziness that can lead to difficulty breathing. Symptoms of skin irritation, weakness, diarrhea, nausea, cramps and fainting should receive medical attention if they persist or worsen.
No one in Oregon has been proven to have been sick from exposure to the algae, but the World Health Organization said it has caused illnesses and even deaths elsewhere in the world. A dog died in August along the South Umpqua River near Myrtle Creek from toxin exposure after swimming in algae-laced water.
So far this year, 22 public-health advisories have been issued for algae blooms, and five remain in effect. Those include an advisory issued Aug. 12 at Willow Lake in eastern Jackson County.
The advisory on the South Umpqua also remains in effect, as do advisories at Tenmile Lake in Coos County, Haystack Reservoir in Jefferson County and Fairview Lake in Multnomah County.
Spinning yarns about the past year's fishing will be the focus of the Rogue Flyfishers Association's monthly meeting Dec. 15 in Medford.
Club members are invited to attend the Wednesday meeting and make short presentations about great and funny fishing experiences from 2010.
Also scheduled for the meeting will be the auctioning of a Gary Anderson-made custom spey rod valued at $800.
The meeting begins at 6 p.m. with a social hour and a buffet dinner at 7 p.m. The association meets at the Red Lion Hotel, 200 N. Riverside Ave., Medford,
The general public is welcome.
For more information, visit the association's website at rogueflyfishers.org or send an e-mail to Kellie at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470, or e-mail email@example.com.