Warmer waters meant the wrapping up of electrofishing on Dragon Lake last week.
Baker Creek Enhancement Society (BCES), along with volunteers and Fisheries went out a total of five times since the ice melted, removing 6,850 goldfish from the thick reeds along the shore.
“The goldfish ranged in size from two inches to eight inches,” BCES Executive Director Tracy Bond said.
“We have no idea how many more there are.”
Bond said the conditions of the lake determine when and where the goldfish congregate.
Electrofishing uses a current of electricity. There’s a wand out front with “rat tail back” charging a six-foot radius. Different frequencies can be used with one shocking and killing the fish and one stunning fish for transportation or scientific surveys.
A faint clicking sound greets me as I arrive on site. Through the budding trees and brown reeds I spot two men in dark grey waders, one with the device, the other a net.
Bond stands slightly to their left with a bucket.
Once the clicking stops, the wand pierces the choppy, muddy water – a flurry of activity rushes the surface, the net plunges in scooping up dozens of the fish.
I’m handed my own pair of waders and a net.
I sludge my way to their location, relying heavily on Bond’s shoulder for support. Several times my foot suctions to the bottom. I have visions of taking a header in
the reeds and feel a
slight tightening of my chest.
Get it together Autumn.
He dips his wand, the fish rush up, the net dips in and they’re transferred to the bucket.
“Can you grab that one for us?” he asks, pointing to a wayward goldfish the size of my hand.
I reach my net out, scoop up my catch and gingerly move my net towards the bucket.
I then gag… more than once.
They laugh – a lot.
“We have had complaints about the process,” Bond said, noting strict permit regulations does not allow relocation or sale.
“Our permit was for disposal only.”
But Bond hopes the disposal of the goldfish at Crooked Leg Ranch for food might help alleviate the concerns of residents.
“All of this could have been prevented if people hadn’t dumped their family goldfish,” she said.
“And all of our efforts now are simply buying time… not solving the problem.”