166,000 fingerlings released at Diamond Lake ramps

I like to fish at Diamond Lake and I am always curious about the state's fish-stocking program there. It seems they change the number of fingerling trout they stock each year and also when they put the fish in. So what is their plan for this year?

— Diamond Lake Dan, Medford

First off, it's good you like to fish at Diamond Lake, Mr. Diamond Lake Dan, or you'd have to change your name to something like Willow Lake Will or Lake of the Woods Luke, and that would just confuse your mailman.

That said, we here at Since You Asked monitor the trout-stocking schedules pretty tightly, DLD. And, in a way, you're right about Diamond Lake, and in a way, you're not.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife stocks Diamond Lake annually with fingerling rainbow trout of varying strains, and the fish are stocked four to six weeks after the ice melts, says Laura Jackson, the ODFW's Umpqua District fish biologist who knows and studies all that is Diamond Lake.

The number of fish stocked in the lake has varied annually since it was treated in 2006 with rotenone to kill off invasive tui chubs. Stocking levels have been as high as 346,000 fingerling in 2009, which not only triggered big catches in 2010 but also caused some of the same water-quality problems caused by the overabundance of chub.

Since then, stocking levels have been reduced to achieve better water-quality and improve fishery balances at the lake, Jackson says.

This year's stocking occurred Thursday and Friday, and crews split 166,000 fingerlings between the north and south public ramps, Jackson says. That's the exact stocking level as last year, and it is part of a little experiment to see whether it leads to good catch rates while keeping nasty blue-green algae outbreaks in check, Jackson says.

ODFW estimates that Diamond Lake anglers last year released almost one-third of their catch but still killed and took home 78,156 trout during the regular spring-to-fall season, Jackson says.

The lake on Jan. 1 turned into a year-round fishery, and ODFW estimates that anglers caught and killed about 10,300 fish between Jan. 1 and early April, with very few caught and released.

That's based on the assumption, Diamond Lake Dan, that no one's going to pull trout out of their ice-hole in the dead of winter just to release them.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.

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