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High Sierra rescue effort saves 6,500 fish

September 5, 2008 | 10:27 am


Last week L.A. Unleashed told you about efforts to save thousands of fish that would have been left high, dry and dead by emergency repairs on a dam in the Sierra Nevada.

This week the state’s Department of Fish and Game announced that it was able to save 6,500 fish, according to department spokesman Harry Morse. (He also snapped the photo above.)

Fish and Game fishery biologists, aided by about 90 volunteers organized by Trout Unlimited and the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, launched the rescue operation Aug. 26. They spent three days transferring fish from Caples Lake to two nearby lakes. The water in Caples Lake, about 20 miles south of Lake Tahoe, is being lowered so the El Dorado Irrigation District can repair the dam’s outlet gates.

Initial efforts to net fish had limited success. “Fish would not go into the nets, for whatever reason,” Morse said this week.

That’s when the would-be rescuers turned to electro-fishing — zapping the water with electricity, which causes the fish, which are a bit stunned, to rise to the surface. Morse said seven electro-boats were deployed.

Some large Mackinaw or lake trout -- up to 15 pounds –- were captured, though most were rainbow, brown and brook trout. In an interview with the Associated Press while the rescue operation was under way, Morse said one brown trout was an 18-pounder. “It was a monster,” he said. “It looked like a salmon.”

-- Steve Padilla

Photo credit: Harry Morse, California Department of Fish and Game

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