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Good news for anglers

In recent weeks good things have been happening for striper anglers on Lake Mohave. I have received several reports that anglers have been catching double-digit stripers in the middle portions of the reservoir. Among those anglers is my friend Roger, who in recent weeks has been on the business end of a rod with some of these big fish on the line.

The questions is, why after being sluggish the past few years has there been a resurgence in the striper fishing in this part of the reservoir? It might very well be the presence of threadfin and gizzard shad.

Given that as late as last winter Lake Mohave seemed be almost shad free, that statement may seem a bit over the top, but during the past year or so there have been sporadic reports of threadfin shad in the reservoir. On one of his recent forays to Lake Mohave, Roger saw what he thought was heavy vegetation in the back of a cove. As he got closer, however, Roger realized he was looking at a very large school of shad. Needless to say that caught him a little bit off guard, but it also was good news. He went on to catch several large stripers that day.

Roger’s report is supported by findings of fisheries biologists with the Nevada Department of Wildlife who have confirmed the presence of both threadfin and gizzard shad in Lake Mohave. That is good news for anglers who enjoy pursuing bass of all varieties because the improved forage base should result in even better fishing in a water that has been giving up some quality largemouth and smallmouth bass in recent years. And the striper population should improve as well.

There also is a bit of good news for anglers who have had their eye on the Willow Beach National Hatchery and wondered what the future holds for the trout-rearing program for which that facility was originally built. Since trout production was halted following a water intake issue in November 2013, anglers and politicians alike have requested that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) do whatever is necessary to bring trout production and stocking activities back on line.

As with any government project, a primary wrench in the works has been the question of funding and who would pay for the infrastructure repairs necessary to reinstate the cold water flows required for trout production. In this case, the answer may finally be found in a cost-sharing agreement between the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZFGD) and the FWS.

According the AZGFD, the Arizona Game and Fish Commission voted 5-0 to give the agency’s director the authority needed to finalize a cost-sharing agreement with the FWS. The commission agreed to pay up to $389,000 toward the repair of a broken water intake that provides cold water to the hatchery. This is approximately 50 percent of the cost of the project.

Following the vote, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., issued the following statement. “I am very pleased that an agreement to restore trout stocking at Willow Beach Hatchery has been approved today by the Arizona Game and Fish Commission. This is an important development for the Mohave County/Clark County stretch of the Lower Colorado River, where trout fishing supports some 1,700 jobs and generates $75 million in economic activity. The endless opportunities for outdoor recreation are among the most unique aspects of life in Arizona, and I am proud that our state and local officials took a leadership role on this issue with the federal government, which has a longstanding responsibility to mitigate for lost fishing opportunities resulting from the construction of the Hoover Dam.”

If executed, the agreement commits the AZGFD to not only share the cost of repairs but also to “institutionalize a recreational fishing partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service into the next decade. It calls for the Service to annually provide 2 million fertilized triploid rainbow trout eggs from Ennis National Fish Hatchery, 160,000 fertilized Apache trout eggs from Williams Creek National Fish Hatchery and 150,000 catchable 11-inch rainbow trout stocked annually into Willow Beach and below Davis Dam,” the department noted in a statement.

Obviously, such an agreement would be significant for Nevada anglers as well as those from Arizona. We just have to wait and see if the service will pick up the ball that is now on their side of the court.

Freelance writer Doug Nielsen is a conservation educator for the Nevada Department of Wildlife. His “In the Outdoors” column, published Thursday in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, is not affiliated with or endorsed by the NDOW. Any opinions he states in his column are his own. He can be reached at intheoutdoorslv@gmail.com.

 

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