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Lost Creek Lake still a robust fishery

For years I went fishing with family and friends and caught some nice fish at Lost Creek Lake. When the lake started getting the (algae) blooms and the advisory for no water contact by humans and pets, that's when I and a lot of other people quit fishing the lake.

My question is, with the ongoing toxic algae blooms, why are they still stocking the lake? We have so many lakes, ponds and rivers in our area, why not stock more in them instead of Lost Creek Lake?

— Louie A.

Well, Louie, we at Since You Asked Central certainly enjoy wetting a line like many in Southern Oregon and we, too, have wondered a bit about fishing in a lake that routinely has seen voluntary advisories against water contact during potentially toxic algae blooms in the past.

While you and many others may avoid the lake during the blooms, there are enough anglers interested in fishing enough days here that the stocking numbers still justify themselves for Jackson County's largest and most popular water bodies for fishing, according to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

"It's just a fantastic trout fishery in spring, summer and winter," says Dan VanDyke, the ODFW's Rogue District fish biologist who is a trout-trolling aficionado himself.

The lake hasn't seen a creel survey in more than a decade, but historically it shows that the Rogue River's last large remaining reservoir is a classic put-and-take fishery.

"The fishing is as good as ever," VanDyke says. "But I'm not sure Diamond Lake hasn't taken away some of our effort there,"

Technicians from nearby Cole Rivers Hatchery put in slightly more than 75,000 legal-sized trout annually, sprinkling them in groups of 20,000 or 25,000 in mid-March, late-April, mid-May and early June just before Free Fishing Weekend, according to the agency's stocking schedule

Another 500 pound-sized trout are stocked in mid-May, while 5,000 more legals and 900 trophy-sized trout are stocked in early October, according to agency records.

Most of the catch comes in the first few weeks after each stocking, as well as the winter catches of hold-over trout.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers no longer does water-quality tests for blue-green algae and, therefore, the Oregon Health Authority no longer issues public-health advisories against water contact during blooms. The Corps, however, has stepped up a campaign that allows anglers and other users to make informed decisions about when and how to recreate during blooms at Lost Creek Lake.

In fact, when it comes to fishing success or non-success at Lost Creek Lake, anglers have more to fear from their own than algae blooms.

In recent years, yellow perch and spotted bass have been illegally stocked in the lake. They threaten to out-compete trout and largemouth bass for food and space as illegally stocked smallmouth bass have done before.

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. To see a collection of columns, go to mailtribune.com/youasked. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.