BY MIKE STEVENS
BRIDGEPORT – On June 20, the Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) announced that the trout inventory at two hatcheries had to be euthanized due to another bacterial outbreak, and the department was working with an external vendor to fill the gap by providing catchable rainbow trout in Mono County. On June 30, Western Outdoor News was able to confirm which hatchery was going to step in as well as acquire key details surrounding the game plan moving forward.
Desert Springs Trout Farm in Summer Lake, Oregon, secured the contract to supply primarily lakes and some streams into the area of Mono County between June Lake and Bridgeport. That name might sound familiar to Eastern Sierra trout anglers since it’s the hatchery that supplies the area with the larger, premium trout that get stocked all season throughout the Highway 395 corridor.
In a conference call with WON, Desert Springs President Tom MacDonald and Hatchery Manager Ethan Negus indicated that this is a “separate contract, above and beyond the other stocking.” The contract calls for approximately 105,000 pounds of rainbow trout that will be delivered at a clip of 3,500 pounds per week. The original plan was for that stocking to kick off in the first week of July, but those specifics are still being ironed out. MacDonald and Negus did say it seems like both sides are looking to get started as soon as possible. These supplemental trout plants are slated to continue through September.
WON was able to confirm that Lee Vining Creek and the West Walker River would be included in these plants, but the majority of these rainbows are earmarked for lakes. When asked why the southern end of the stocking zone stops at June Lake rather than through Mammoth Lakes or even down into Bishop, the Desert Springs staffers were unsure but believed the DFW was still planning on stocking those areas with trout from some of their other state hatcheries. Some of these fish are also going to the Sacramento area which typically gets trout from the Black Rock and Fish Springs hatcheries which were the two state facilities affected by this recent outbreak.
According to MacDonald, Desert Springs Trout Farm got the contract due in part to the facility’s trout inventory (they have enough fish for the job) as well as its track record in raising disease- and virus-free fish. The budget for this unique situation is actually coming out of emergency drought funding.
Desert Springs Trout Farm has been under the same private ownership for a quarter-century and is fed by a constant flow of water from artesian wells. The water remains at 60 degrees regardless of external conditions. This provides optimal conditions for raising trout year-round, and the fish are annually certified as disease-free by independent labs. Due to the excellent water quality, antibiotics or chemicals have never been needed in raising these trout. Desert Springs regularly makes deliveries throughout California, Oregon and Nevada along with special deliveries to Idaho and Utah.
“Desert Springs has been a great partner in Mono County for many years and we are excited to see more of their quality fish in our waters,” said Mono County Economic Development Manager, Jeff Simpson.”
Read the original press release HERE.