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Spotted bass another headache at Lost Creek Lake

A Phoenix teenager is the latest to confirm that Lost Creek Lake is home to the state's only known — and illegal — population of spotted bass.

Colby Pearson caught an 8-inch spotted bass, which Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists identified as the outlaw denizen of Southern Oregon's largest reservoir.

"It's really a shame," says ODFW biologist Dan VanDyke in Central Point. "It's an illegally introduced species, and we find it completely unacceptable."

Spotted bass — known scientifically as micropterus punctatus — are smaller cousins to largemouth and smallmouth bass, both of which inhabit the lake. Largemouth were stocked there initially by agency biologists, but the smallmouth were illegally introduced and have since taken over the lake.

Spotted bass first surfaced here in 2006 when a photograph of a fish caught at Lost Creek Reservoir was posted on a local bass-fishing club's Web site, VanDyke says. An angler caught one about 10 inches long in 2007, and that was sent for a positive identification to Oregon State University, VanDyke says.

Authorities do not know who stocked the spotted bass or when, but they cannot be transported live without a permit. VanDyke says they most likely came from Northern California's Lake Shasta, which has a solid spotted bass population.

"Along with the climate, we share anglers with Northern California," VanDyke says. "So it's easy to conclude Shasta, certainly by proximity."

So far, biologists have not confirmed that spotted bass are reproducing in the lake, but VanDyke believes it is just a matter of time.

"I suspect we'll have a self-sustaining population in Lost Creek," he says.

The offending anglers who illegally brought these bass to Oregon likely won't see anything close to the kind of fishery they appear to have attempted to jump-start here.

Lost Creek Lake and other Oregon reservoirs generally have much cooler winter water temperatures than the southern lakes and reservoirs where spotted bass do well, VanDyke says. Even Shasta's winter water is warmer than that of Lost Creek, he says.

VanDyke believes the population will end up "a little stunted" like the illegally introduced yellow perch in Emigrant Lake.

And any fishery that develops for them likely would not be year-round because of the cold winter water, he says.

The public-health advisory against contact with the water at Lemolo Lake was lifted Monday after tests showed reduced levels of potentially toxic algae.

The announcement from the state Department of Human Services came less than three weeks after the advisory was issued by health officials over the presence of anabaena flos-aquae.

This strain of blue-green algae can produce toxins when its blooms die off.

During the advisories, water contact is not advised for people or pets who could inhale or consume algae-tainted water. Also, since the algae cannot be boiled out, catch-and-release fishing is recommended during advisory periods.

The advisory went into effect July 23 at Lemolo, which is 72 miles east of Roseburg and in the Umpqua River Basin.

For more information on toxic algae, visit the DHS's Harmful Bloom Surveillance Program Web site at www.oregon.gov/DHS/ph/hab.

Disabled and disadvantaged kids from Southern Oregon will get a chance to fish Hyatt Lake Saturday as part of an annual event designed to teach them the art of angling.

The annual C.A.S.T. for Kids event will be from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Bureau of Land Management campground at Hyatt Lake off Highway 66 east of Ashland.

Kids at this event will get loaner fishing rods and reels, along with a hat and shirt to wear on their escorted fishing trip on a boat in the lake.

A barbecue lunch and awards ceremony will follow.

The event is one of several held annually through the C.A.S.T. for Kids Foundation.

The local event is organized by the BLM, which offers invited anglers and their families free camping at its campground.

To register for the event, telephone 541-779-4520.

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 776-4470, or e-mail mfreeman@mailtribune.com.