INNISFAIL – The Prussian carp at Dodd’s Lake will soon have some underwater company.
By the May long weekend there could be 300 Rainbow trout in the lake.
The proposal for stocking Dodd’s Lake with 300 eight to 10-inch Rainbow trout, a historically popular fish for anglers originally found only in parts of the upper Athabasca River Basin and upper Peace River Basin, is being made by the Innisfail Lions Club.
“Town council approval will allow us to apply for either a license or permit from the provincial government to proceed,” stated a letter to council from Tom Reinhart, a member of the service club’s Dodd’s Lake fish committee.
“The sooner we can get the approvals the better our chances of getting stock from the hatchery in Eckville. The proximity of the Eckville Hatchery is an asset for transporting them to Innisfail.”
Two years ago, the service club made a pitch to council to stock Dodd’s Lake with fish, and council agreed by a vote of 6 – 1 to endorse the service group’s plan to study the feasibility of Dodd's Lake becoming a local angling spot.
The biggest concern at the time was whether any type of fish could survive in the lake because of its shallow depth (nine to 11 feet at its deepest), low oxygen concentration and unacceptably high temperatures.
However, Meghan Jenkins, the town’s director of community services, said while the Rainbow trout will be challenged at best to survive over winter the Lion’s club has said they are willing to make an agreement with the town to take on the responsibility of clean-up.
“They’ve accepted they won’t survive but they think they would be an amenity and an addition to have the option to fish. We did have the conversation about the carp and that people are fishing for those,” said Jenkins.
Last year it became known in the community that Prussian carp, an invasive freshwater genetic cousin to the Asian goldfish that does not need a male partner to reproduce, is firmly entrenched in Dodd’s Lake.
The town is allowing anglers to catch them but not throw them back into the lake.
Found in waterways around Lacombe, and as far south in the watershed areas of the Bow and Oldman rivers, there is growing concern the Prussian carp, which can grow up to 14 inches in length, will become a serious threat to local aquatic ecosystems and native fish habitats.
The Prussian carp is considered an opportunistic voracious eater that will feed on just about anything, including smaller fish. This big appetite raises the risk they will ultimately out-compete native fish for food sources and put their survival in jeopardy.
Jenkins told council she’s not sure how well the Rainbow trout will compete with Prussian carp, which she added is considered more of a bottom-feeder type of fish as opposed to aggressive.
Nevertheless, council was eager to give the Rainbow trout a shot at Dodd’s Lake this summer, and passed a motion to give the Lion’s club approval to put 300 trout into lake.
“I guess it could be classed as a pilot. It’s a trial and error. If fish and wildlife (provincial government) are not opposed to it, and if the Lions club wants to take it on as a project. If the fish don’t survive the winter, we will have to reevaluate it next year before we do it again,” said Mayor Jim Romane. “I think the kids will love it.”
Coun. Don Harrison called the idea “positive”, one that could turn into a weekend fish derby if anglers become enthusiastic with the chance to catch a 10-inch adult Rainbow trout. He noted young campers from the Anthony Henday Campground have enthusiastically come down to the lake with their fishing rods.
“I didn’t have the heart to tell them they were not going to catch anything but carp but they were flailing away with their fly rods,” said Harrison. “I think it is very positive. I think it is a one-year pilot (project). Let’s try it. It’s not costing the town anything.
"The Lion’s club has stepped up. I think it is a good community sponsorship.”