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NFC: Goldfish chase trout away

Here is an intresting article that my mom sent me. It came from the
albuquerque journal

We are going do do some exotic removal this weekend. it is going to be


~~Sally Johnson~~~~~~~www.unm.edu/~sbuna~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It's smegging stupid. Two grown men on unicycles belting a beach ball up
and down the corridor...with french loaves.


Sunday, June 13, 1999
Page: A1

Fritz Thompson Journal Staff Writer

Pet-Store-Variety Swimmers Frustrate Quemado Visitors

QUEMADO LAKE -- Seen from the high road in the mountains, Quemado Lake
sparkles sapphire blue.

But up close, easily visible from shore, the lake shimmers with shifting
clouds of orange.

It's not chemical pollution: This Catron County lake is instead infested
with hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of goldfish.

They are bright orange and average 8 or so inches long. They are not koi:
They are the kind of goldfish you would more likely find in fishbowls in
pet stores
and homes.

And their presence in Quemado Lake has evolved into a huge problem for the
New Mexico Department of Game and Fish.

More and more fishermen are clamoring for action. Quemado Lake, they say,
has become so overrun with goldfish that the rainbow trout that used to
dominate these waters are being crowded to death.

A government biologist says the goldfish fare better than trout in the
murky depths of the lake.

"Goldfish are like people who like to hang out in smoky bars," said U.S.
Forest Service biologist Pat Morrison of Quemado. "Trout are like guys who
have to
get outside with their beer."

Just a drop in the bucket

Earlier this year, the game department and the Forest Service made a stab
at solving the problem before they knew it would entail a lot of red tape.
nets, they hauled 5{ tons of goldfish out of the lake.

Fishery officials say it was a drop in the bucket.

"When we took the 51/2 tons out, it didn't make a dent," said Morrison. "We
could have taken 30 tons out if we'd had the manpower."

"It is a much, much bigger problem than we had imagined," said Ernest
Jaquez, southwest fisheries manager for the department. "We took out 40,000
45,000 goldfish and it hardly made a difference. There might be millions

School after school of goldfish glides near the surface of the lake. The
fish congregate in the coves, swim leisurely along the shoreline, hang
around the boat
dock, cluster in all parts of the lake's 131 acres. You can spot an orange
hue in the water from atop the hillside a hundred yards away.

Experts suspect the fish came from people who discarded their pet goldfish
or fishermen using them for bait.

Jaquez said the goldfish "have responded to their environment by growing
bigger than the ones in a goldfish bowl. The little ones you have at home
stay little
because they're in a little habitat. These are the same kind of goldfish,
but they have a whole lake, so they just keep growing."

Fishermen have reported some 14-inchers, but nobody seems interested in
catching them on a hook.

The goldfish are being blamed for such a downturn in business at nearby
Snuffy's store, restaurant and bar that the establishment closed for longer
than usual
last winter. Fishermen quit coming because there weren't many rainbow
trout, said Snuffy's manager Martha Mendoza.

"If we'd had good fishing we wouldn't have had to shut our doors," she
said. "And we didn't have good fishing because of the goldfish."

Jaquez blamed the genesis of the goldfish problem on what he called the
"Free Willie" syndrome, making reference to the movie that featured the
release of a
captive whale.

"Somebody's mom said, 'I'm tired of taking care of these fish for you, I'm
going to get rid of them,' '' Jaquez theorized. "And the kids said, 'No,
no, don't flush
them down the toilet.' So they dumped them in the lake."

He said the only other plausible theory rests with fishermen who might have
illegally used live goldfish as trout bait. Either the bait goldfish
escaped into the
lake or extras were turned loose.

Goldfish have been in Quemado Lake for at least seven years, area residents
said. Jaquez said other lakes in New Mexico might have goldfish, but none
populations anywhere near what's in Quemado Lake.

El Nino and the warm winters seem to have worked to the benefit of the
goldfish and to the detriment of the trout.

The two have different diets, and the algae-eating goldfish are more
adaptable to stagnant, warm water than the trout. When the goldfish spawned
this year,
the population, already high, just exploded.

Morrison said the goldfish simply crowd the trout out. "Trout don't
directly compete with goldfish (for food), but the goldfish pack in such a
mass that they
occupy places where the trout might otherwise be," she said. "It's a space
type thing."

The 51/2 tons of goldfish that were removed were spread as fertilizer on a
piece of range land outside Quemado.

That initial mass extraction of goldfish was made by the Forest Service, in
cooperation with the state Department of Game and Fish, which asked for the
The Game and Fish Department operates the dam and the lake under a permit
from the Forest Service. The Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest operates the
surrounding campgrounds and picnic areas.

Jaquez said Game and Fish managers will sit down in July and figure out a
way to eradicate the goldfish. There are several ways: They can use chemical
poison, electrical shock, simple netting or a combination.

Jaquez said the department must prepare an environmental assessment, hold
public hearings and follow the guidelines of the National Environmental

He said nothing will happen to the goldfish until next year.

Fishermen discouraged

Meanwhile, some fishermen are saying they won't bother putting their lines
in Quemado Lake anytime soon.

"We went there Memorial Day weekend and didn't catch a thing," said Linda
Lorenz, an avid angler and an employee of Metropolitan Court in Albuquerque.
"We caught some trout last year, but this year all you can see are
goldfish. They're disgusting."

While she was there, Lorenz watched a fishing derby with a jackpot for the
biggest trout. "Nobody was catching many trout," she said. "They should have
given a prize instead for catching the most goldfish. The fishing was so
bad, everybody left."

Jaquez said you don't need a state fishing license to catch goldfish, as
long as you're using a net. But you'd better have one if you have a pole.

"You might have a tough time convincing a Game and Fish warden you're
holding a fishing rod but (that) you're only fishing for goldfish," he said.

Fishing for trout from the bank of Quemado Lake on a recent morning, Patty
Preston and her family from Datil said nobody got a nibble. She was
at the number of goldfish and wondered if there were any trout at all.

At Snuffy's, Martha Mendoza is planning fishing derbies for the coming
weekends with the jackpot going to whoever catches the most goldfish.

"It's the least we can do," she said.


PHOTO: Color

INTERLOPER: Multiply this surfacing goldfish by a few million and you'll
get an idea of how many there may be in Quemado Lake in Catron County.


PHOTO: b/w

NO TROUT: Patty Preston of Datil has not had any luck this year. With her
on this outing were her father, Mike Murray, and nephews Zackery and Steven

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