Stocking Resumes at Sparks Marina Where Fish Died - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Stocking Resumes at Sparks Marina Where Fish Died

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It's been over 3 months since an estimated 10,000 trout, bass and catfish died at Sparks Marina, killing almost the entire lake's fishery. But after a long dry spell for anglers there, the fish are beginning their comeback for the fishing season.

Standing in the April chill, Steven Thompson waits. With only a few spins and casts breaking the silence, it's like he's the only person there. As he told us, "It's been very quiet, to me." He's a diehard Sparks Marina fisherman. And like the rest of them, he's had better days. How long has he been waiting lately for bites? "Hmmm, 30 minutes to an hour. It's a long wait, but fishing is about patience. You gotta be patient to catch your fish."

For Steven, and the fishery, it's been a rough 2014. Just days before last Christmas, a tremendous fish kill caused most life there to go belly up. NDOW Fisheries Biologist Kim Tisdale told us, "We spent a lot of time picking up dead fish, and it's a sad thing for a fisheries biologist to have to do."

At first, suspicions were directed across the highway to the petroleum tank farm. Others, who remember the toxic pit Sparks Marina used to be, were sure something…unnatural still lurked underwater. But as Sparks City Engineer John Martini told us, "All water tests showed no signs of any chemical pollution."

What happened was the result of an unfortunate convergence of weather and water. Martina says, "We believe that cold spell we had caused the water to turnover and the oxygen at the top of the lake was depleted."

The mystery of the massive fish kill over, biologists waited until today (Tuesday), when oxygen levels were fully recovered to bring some life back to the still waters. The park ranger told us that just some "survivalist carp" and the ducks have had the lake all to themselves…until now. 2 trucks pulled up and together dropped in 8,000 trout. Martini said, "As soon as we had a good certainty that the lake was going to be OK, we gave them the go ahead. And here they are today, and it's good to see them going back in!" Kim Tisdale said, "We're restocking today, and then we'll probably stock every few weeks here to make sure we have good fishing opportunities for our anglers." They expect to replenish with a total of 26,000 this year.

Kim says they've been getting up to 20 calls a day from folks asking when the fish were coming back. These trout come straight from their Mason Valley hatchery. Martini says "They're a 12 on a scale of 1 to 10…oh yeah, these will be very good eating."

Back on the beach side, Steven was waiting to catch the very first one. It's now back to being the favorite fishing spot he discovered years ago. As he told us, "It's been a long time coming...but the fishing should be good, as long as the weather starts changing."

-written by John Potter

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