An ODFW volunteer helps set a net trap as part of ODFW’s efforts to reduce the tui chub population in East Lake near Bend.
- Photo by ODFW -
BEND, Ore. -- On June 30, biologists and volunteers from ODFW began trapping tui chub on East Lake, near Bend, as part of a five-year plan to restore the rainbow trout fishery.
Biologists are targeting the tui chub for three weeks in June and July when the fish concentrate in shallow waters to spawn, according to Jen Luke, ODFW fish biologist.
“Our plan is to trap and remove as many tui chub as we can over the next three spawning seasons,” she said. Once the number of chub has been reduced, ODFW will try to keep the remaining population in check by stocking a more aggressive strain of rainbow trout.
So far, biologists have been trapping an average of 600 pounds of tui chub a day.
“Our goal is not the complete elimination of the tui chub – which is likely impossible using traps,” Luke said. “Instead, we want to try to keep the chub population at a low enough level that rainbow trout can still thrive.”
For decades, East Lake has been a popular destination fishery with a reputation for producing trophy-sized rainbow trout, Luke said. In recent years, however, the quality of the rainbow trout fishing in East Lake has declined as the tui chub population has increased. (Tui chub compete with young trout for the same food sources.)
If the trapping operation can significantly reduce the number of chub in the lake, ODFW will then modify the trout stocking schedule to include the experimental use of more aggressive strains of rainbow trout.
“Even when they’re small, some types of rainbow trout feed heavily on small, minnow-sized fish, like the tui chub,” Luke said. “We hope that these rainbow trout, combined with the large brown trout already in the lake, will be able to keep chub populations at reasonable levels.”
East Lake is naturally devoid of fish and was first stocked with rainbow trout in 1912. By the 1920s it was gaining a reputation as a premiere trout fishery due to abundant food sources that allowed trout to grow to trophy sizes. Tui chub are not native to Central Oregon and may have been introduced to East Lake by anglers using them as live bait.