Sunday, April 22 , 2018, 5:58 pm | Fair 68º

 
 
 
 

Captain’s Log: Trout Plants to Resume at Lake Cachuma

That cheering sound wafting in through the windows is from our recreation-loving community rejoicing over a resumption of scheduled trout plants at Lake Cachuma. This is good for residents, nonresident visitors, the concessionaire, the Nature Center, the local tackle shop business, county, state — everyone, really.

The concerns from the Department of Fish & Wildlife, based on lawsuits it was dealing with, had been that trout stocking could impact steelhead and red-legged frogs. As I opined in an earlier Noozhawk column, these issues shouldn’t halt the trout stocking program.

If I were a wimpy stocked triploid (sterile) trout that made it over the dam in a high water year and found myself snout-to-snout with a hungry, wild steelhead, two things would happen: I’d get my butt kicked, and the steelhead would get the food. Being a sterile trout, interbreeding wouldn’t be an issue. For red-legged frogs, good natural habitat can be restored or even developed, but Lake Cachuma isn’t it because the lake is not natural habitat.

We built the lake, and recreational fishing was always a part of the plan. We must stay true to ourselves and always honor and respect that.

That is pretty much the way the county saw things and it went to work to fix the situation. Lots and lots of caring citizens supported the effort by emailing our interest in continuing the stocking program. The Third District Court of Appeals weighed in on our side by pretty much telling the state that it could issue a permit.

At first, the state seemed to resist; however, under pressure from the community and after meeting with our county, the state came through for us in a big way — not only issuing the permit that allows the county to stock the lake, but additionally agreeing to resume stocking it themselves.

Our county supervisors weighed in. In a press release from the Parks Division of the County Community Services Department, Third District Supervisor Doreen Farr was quoted as saying, “I am so pleased that trout stocking will continue at Lake Cachuma. Assuring that stocking continued was a priority for my office as Lake Cachuma serves as both an important economic driver for our local economy and as a recreational venue for both county and noncounty residents."

After being without stocked trout all season, roughly 10,000 pounds of triploid rainbow trout will be planted during April. The first plant of about 2,000 pounds will be from the state, followed by a plant of about 8,000 pounds from the county. Considering that a normal scheduled stock is 4,000 pounds, these combined stocks will be a huge boost for the lake fishery. The stocked fish will vary in size from half a pound on up to impressive 8.5-pound units.

The Nature Center and its supporters are adding to the cheering sound from the community because those stocks are scheduled to happen before the annual Neal Taylor Center Fish Derby on April 18. This is a premier annual fundraiser for this wonderful nonprofit, so timing is perfect. Until this year it was referred to as the “Trout Derby” and will hopefully be called so again.

Yes, we sure want more rain and higher water levels at the lake, but it is still a wonderful recreational resource, and so resuming trout plantings will help bring people out to recreate. Mom, dad, aunt, uncle, grandma and grandpa, plus all the kids, will be able to enjoy a day or weekend away, take in the sights, sounds and smells of nature while roaming and casting along the lakeshore or fishing from a boat.

My well-worn hat is doffed to the county, supervisors, citizens and the state for working together to make this happen. Thank you!

— Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need. Visit softininc.blogspot.com to learn more about the organization and how you can help. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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