BEND, Ore. - The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife said Thursday it is considering changes to the popular fishery at Hosmer Lake near Bend, changes that could include discontinuation of the Atlantic salmon stocking program.
In recent years, fishing at Hosmer Lake has focused on the naturally reproducing brook trout and Atlantic salmon, which are stocked annually, said ODFW fish biologist Brett Hodgson.
ODFW diversified the fishery this year with the addition of rainbow and cutthroat trout. Should one or both of these species survive and grow enough to offer a quality fishery, they could replace Atlantic salmon on the stocking schedule, Hodgson said.
"Our management objective for Hosmer Lake is not changing," he said. "We will continue to manage Hosmer Lake to provide a unique, quality fish experience for a feature species"
"We are simply evaluating some different alternatives for what that featured species will be," he added.
Hodgson also said ODFW has not proposed any fishing regulations changes for the lake – there are no plans to change its fly-fishing-only status, or allow for the harvest of Atlantic salmon. Current regulations allow anglers to keep five trout per day and will continue.
The proposed changes to the hatchery stocking practices at Hosmer Lake come for two reasons.
Hodgson believes the cutthroat and Cranebow (hatchery rainbow trout produced from wild Crane Prairie redband trout) trout stocked this spring might provide a better fishing opportunity for many anglers.
These fish have the potential to reach 20 or more inches long in Hosmer's rich, productive waters, eclipsing the average Atlantic salmon's 16-inch length.
The efficient use of hatchery resources is also being considered. In recent years, the 3,000 Atlantic salmon being stocked into Hosmer have been raised at the nearby Wizard Falls Hatchery.
Hosmer is the only lake in Oregon that is stocked with Atlantic salmon, and ODFW managers question whether producing a small number of fish for a niche fishery is a good use of resources.
Hodgson stated ODFW will monitor the quality of the Hosmer fishery and the effectiveness of the new stocking program during the summer of 2014. Results will influence ODFW's proposal for future management.
Anglers will have an opportunity to weigh in on the possible changes to stocking practices and regulations at Hosmer during a series of public meetings to be held fall 2014. In the meantime, anglers can send their comment to Brett Hodgson at email@example.com or 541-388-6009.
"We welcome public input on any future regulation changes for Hosmer Lake," Hodgson said. Any regulation changes proposed by the public would be considered during the 2016public process for the 2017 sport fishing regulations.
Historically, Hosmer Lake did not have a native fish population, but did boast a scenic mountain setting and crystal clear water. In 1929 ODFW began stocking the lake to provide additional recreational fishing opportunity in Central Oregon. Over the years, Hosmer has been stocked with rainbow trout, Atlantic salmon and brook trout.