About two dozen people showed up at Comins Lake on April 20 to watch two Nevada Department of Wildlife trucks from the Gallagher hatchery dump 2,200 rainbow trout into the body of water, the first new fish in nine years.
“This is a culmination of ten years of work,” NDOW conservation educator Joe Doucette said. “It was an agency wide effort of almost 80 employees and volunteers.”
NDOW added 2,200 more trout on April 21, and 10,000 fish will be in the lake by the end of the spring. The department will 10,000 more fish this fall, and will also add largemouth bass in September or October.
For now, the trout will feed on midge larvae as well as dragonfly and damselfly nymphs.
Comins Lake suffered an illegal northern pike introduction in 1999, most likely from Bassett Lake to the north. Within ten years, the pike had destroyed the trout population.
According to a press release, in 2004 Comins Lake averaged about 35,000 angler use days for the year. More than 70 percent of the fishermen came from out of town, bringing more than $2 million in revenue with them. By 2013, that had dropped to under 1,300 angler use days for the year.
In August, NDOW staff and volunteers treated both lakes with rotenone, an organic chemical that affects the way fish absorb oxygen into their lungs without affecting other lake mammals and birds.
“We have our lake back,” NDOW fisheries biologist Heath Korell said. “It’s iconic in Nevada for productivity. It’s ready for folks to come and fish it. The water levels are up, and its the first time we put fish in it in nine years.”
“This is worth millions to White Pine County,” Doucette said. “Businesses are expecting it.”
“For the fish to grow an inch or an inch and a half per month is not uncommon,” Korell said. “It’s about conservation and trying to reestablish the population. If we harvest them out, it’s going to do no good.”
The department is also currently in the planning and decision phase for a new boat launch and dock at the lake.