After years of environmental impact studies, debate, and loss of aquatic bug life, the "Gem of the Cascades", is about to begin it's comeback as one of the best trout lakes in Oregon.
Once known for it's rich aquatic life and fast growing trout, Diamond Lake in the southern Oregon Cascades has been battling an infestation of "chubs" for over a decade now. Without sugar coating it, some "YAHOO" decided to introduce live bait-sometimes the tui chub- to try and catch some of the large trout that used to swim in Diamond Lakes cool waters benefit the mighty sentinels of Mt. Thielson and Mt. Bailey.
As the chub prolifically reproduced to ungodly numbers, the trout were slowly squeezed out, as well as the bug life that once thrived in the shadows of the lake, leaving a "trout dead" lake and a ruined natural ecosystem. (Note: Diamond Lake historically is not known to have any native fish to it's waters.)
That is about to change.
This September, around Labor Day, Diamond Lake is scheduled for a rotenone cleansing, which will kill off more than 200 million tui chubs, as well as what is left of the 35,000 -mainly planted- trout that are estimated to be left in the lake . Obviously, not a scene for the squeamish, the rotenone will choke off the oxygen in the lake, and it will be like Thanksgiving come early for hawks, eagles, racoons, and any one else who likes "chub chowder".
The suffocated fish will float to the surface and the banks will be littered with the dead fish in what will certainly be a memorable, albeit ghastly killing fields scene. I also guarantee that if you happen to comb the shores after the dirty deed is done, you will see some VERY LARGE Williamson River Trout that had been introduced into the lake a few years back to try and take a bite out of the chub population. Surely, many of these trout have been surviving, and showing up on fish finders as large 10 to 12 pound uncatchable blips.
Rotenone is a chemical / plant extract which quickly breaks down in sunlight. According to numerous sources, when administrated properly, the effect on wildlife, other than fish, is minimal. However, it is considered toxic prior to it's chemical breakdown, and even though I have heard that humans can eat fish that have been touted by rotenone, I think I am going to opt for the pizza at Diamond Lake (which can be equally toxic) rather than the "pan fried poison trout almondine".
There have also been some "bad experiences" with rotenone (see Davis Lake California) so I am sure many environmental groups will be monitoring the pre and post treated lake.
The last time Diamond Lake was founded was in 1954, and it took three years for the lake to return to an aquatic rich, trout smorgasbord.
But it did return, and there is no reason to think it will not have the same results this time.
The bad news is, that sometimes the rotenone does not get all the invasive fish. Fish will find underwater springs where they can draw enough oxygen to survive, and the chub life cycle begins anew. That is why it so hard to eradicate illegally introduced fish once they are set free.
So MR. YAHOO, do not put any chubs, goldfish, or other invasive fish into any body of water … PERIOD !!
While we wait for the treatment of the lake, the ODFW has increased the daily limit to 20 trout per day, with no size restrictions.So, if you are a guy or gal who likes to eat trout, or if you are normally a catch and release fishermen, now is the time to put some trout in the fridge – guilt free- because these fish are not long for this world.
I myself smoked up about 18 nice Diamond Lake trout the other day, so you better hurry because there are only 34,982 left !!
Or, you can come back mid-September and fill your freezer with 200 million Rotenone treated chubs ….