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Anglers alarmed by conditions at Clear Lake

Anglers alarmed by conditions at Clear Lake

A number of anglers who competed at the Clear Lake Western FLW Series tournament last week were troubled by the condition of the lake and are poised to take action in order to raise awareness about the future health of the fishery.

Elite Series competitors Jared Lintner and Brett Hite were among the 100-boat field and they were concerned by what they saw and heard from locals, who relayed stories of seeing thousands of fish float to the surface and wash ashore in recent weeks.

Lintner said at one point during the tournament, he saw 12 to 15 fish (various species) in one area come to the surface and remain there until they died. Others said the water color was pea green in some spots. Offshore grass was very scarce as well.

According to local media reports, Clear Lake did experience a significant fish kill in mid-August, the impact of which is still lingering.

The Lake County (Ca.) government said in a press release dated Aug. 10, 2017 the fish kill was “most likely the consequence of nutrients, cyanobacteria and warm water temperatures adversely affecting water quality, primarily dissolved oxygen.”

Basically, officials blamed an algae bloom for the die off, but some suspect an aggressive program directed at controlling the growth and spread of aquatic vegetation in the lake could also be a culprit.

“Unfortunately, at this point there is little that can be done quickly to address the cyanobacteria, the phosphorus or the warm water; we simply must let nature take its course,” the county also stated.

Hite didn’t have to make the nearly 900-mile drive from his home in Arizona to compete in the tournament, but he did “because it’s Clear Lake,” he said, referring to the lake’s reputation for being a top-notch bass fishery.

While Hite didn’t question the algae bloom theory he suspects the chemicals being used to control the spread of aquatic vegetation may have accelerated the process. He cited a prolonged heat wave in Northern California that coincided with the treatment application.

“This happens all over the country, but we’re talking about one of, if not, the best bass lakes in the U.S. over the years,” Hite said. “There’s no reason for them to extinguish the grass to that extent. There’s no water flow through the lake so they’re just poisoning the water, which is the opposite of everything California stands for.

“It makes no sense to me why they’re putting chemicals in the water like they are. The same people approving this are the ones out buying organic fruits and vegetables.”

Lintner, who is a frequent visitor to Clear Lake, said he isn’t likely to return this year.

“The lake can rebound because it’s a natural lake, but if this keeps up we might as well stop going there,” Lintner said.

Lintner, Hite and other anglers are considering circulating a petition to raise awareness about the conditions at Clear Lake to engage lawmakers in meaningful discussions about fishery management.

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