By RHEA-FRANCES TETLEY
The last time Lake Gregory was stocked with large trout was last summer but, as a Thanksgiving gift to the community, on Nov. 25 Lake Gregory was stocked with 775 pounds of rainbow trout from the Calaveras Trout Farm in Snelling, Calif.
This stocking was paid for by the San Bernardino County Regional Parks. Lake Gregory was one of six regional parks that received new fish that day. Most of the regional parks got 750 pounds of fish, but Lake Gregory got a few more fish since it had been so long since it was last stocked.
Lake Gregory was last stocked by the county in October 2019, but it was stocked by the state early last summer, according to park rangers at the time. Lake Gregory is usually stocked by the state, but missed all of the summer stocking this season due to a significant problem resulting from three of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) trout hatcheries having a bacterial infection outbreak this past summer. This infection led to a shortage of fish in many Southern California lakes since the state lost 3.2 million trout in the hatcheries.
The fish at the hatcheries had been infected with Lactococcus garvieae, which is similar to streptococcus, wildlife officials said. The infected facilities were the Mojave River Hatchery, Black Rock Hatchery and Fish Springs Hatchery. These were the hatcheries that normally provide the fish for the lakes in Southern California and the Eastern Sierra.
“Euthanizing our hatchery stocks was not a decision we came to lightly, but it had to be done,” said Jay Rowan, environmental program manager for CDFW hatcheries. “This bacterium is resistant to all the treatment options we have available. This option will get us back to planting fish from these hatcheries in the shortest timeline by clearing the raceways, thoroughly disinfecting the facilities and starting over.”
By destroying 3.2 million fish, the CDFW hoped to eliminate the infection, but it has led to a lack of fish in many public lakes and especially trout in San Bernardino’s Regional Parks.
To fish at Lake Gregory, a fisherman must have a state license and pay the $8 daily fishing fee. Anglers can fish from any area of the shore of Lake Gregory except the beach area, as this keeps the sand clear of fish hooks. By having a designated swimming area, it protects the feet of swimmers from the dangers of fish hooks and lost fishing line, which can entangle a swimmer’s feet.
California anglers can now purchase 2021 fishing licenses directly through the CDFW website or from authorized license agents such as Ace Hardware in Crestline. The cost of a 2021 annual resident fishing license has been set at $52.66, while a one-day state license costs $17.02.
Many like to fish from a hard-bottom kayak at Lake Gregory since the lake is so calm. The one-day kayak launch fee is $13. Both local fees are payable at the San Moritz Lodge from 7:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily. The county is now negotiating with a new concessionaire to manage the lake for next summer, which should open the beach area for swimming and offer rental boats for fishing at the lake. This first fish stocking will be the beginning of a great fishing season at Lake Gregory for 2021.
Beginning last week, the silt basins beside the library and the San Moritz Lodge will be cleaned out as part of an annual maintenance project. The project is estimated to be completed by the end of next week. The dredging and other equipment and supplies may be stored on the open space area near the San Moritz Lodge. Sediment that is removed from the basins will be temporarily stored at Camp Switzerland.