Idaho Fish and Game officials plan to rehabilitate Soldiers Meadow Reservoir in early November using the chemical rotenone in an effort to rebuild its declining fishery.
Over the years, illegal fish introductions have caused the fishery to decline to the point where now the reservoir is dominated by stunted bullhead, yellow perch and black crappie.
The results of a creel survey in 2012 showed that angler effort at Soldiers Meadow has continued to decline, and that the majority of anglers supported Fish and Game taking action to rehabilitate the reservoir.
"We heard angler's concerns about the declining fishery, and it is time to do something about it," said Robert Hand, regional fisheries biologist. "By using rotenone, we can completely start over and develop a good fishery that will bring anglers back to Soldiers Meadow Reservoir.
"We see this as an opportunity to improve one of our fisheries for people who have enjoyed this location over the years. While there won't be any fish in the reservoir this winter for ice fishing, we will stock it next spring," Hand said. "The reservoir has been managed as a two-story fishery in the past, with both warm-water fish and hatchery rainbow trout, but we intend to have discussions with the public to determine how to manage this fishery in the future. We have the opportunity be a little creative but want to know what the public thinks first."
The water level in the reservoir will be low in November, reducing the amount of rotenone needed for the targeted fish kill. A second chemical, potassium permanganate, will be on hand to neutralize the rotenone in any water that seeps out below the dam.
Fish and Game biologists stress the importance of not transporting fish from one reservoir to another.
"Many people don't realize what will happen when they put a bucket of their favorite fish in a new location," Hand said. "Species such as bullhead and perch generally don't work well in smaller reservoirs. They overpopulate and then they eat all of the eggs and fry of the species that we want in the reservoir. The end result is damage to the sport fishery in Soldiers Meadow as well as possible negative impacts to the local economy."
The penalty for illegally introducing fish in Idaho can be a lifetime revocation of fishing and hunting privileges and up to a $10,000 fine. In addition, violators could be required to pay for treatment costs, which can be as much as $60,000.
Fish and Game has issued a salvage order for the reservoir, effective from September 1 - October 31, 2013. The order eliminates bag limits and allows any kind of fishing techniques except for chemicals, poisons, explosives or electricity. A valid Idaho fishing license is required to salvage fish.
For more information this renovation effort and other ongoing activities, contact Idaho Fish and Game at 208-799-5010. Or go online to http://fishandgame.idaho.gov.