Beginning Nov.1, Joes Valley Reservoir will be closed to fishing until Dec. 14. When the reservoir reopens to fishing, the trout limit will be two. No more than one trout may be over 22 inches. All trout 15-22 inches must be immediately released. This new management and regulation change is designed to correct a problem, which has impacted the splake fishery in recent years.
During November and early December, splake congregate in shallow water and attempt to spawn. During this time, trophy-size fish become very vulnerable. As word has spread about this unique fishing opportunity, the number of spawning season anglers has increased, which has dramatically increased the harvest of the biggest and most valuable segment of the splake population.
Besides the excessive harvest of large spawning fish, another problem is the fact that many of the splake being harvested, are being snagged or foul-hooked. Last year, DWR Aquatics personnel received an alarming number of reports about fishermen taking daily limits of trophy splake. One angler reported that he had caught 150 splake at least five pounds in size. He said that about half were snagged, albeit unintentionally. Other anglers admitted to foul hooking as much as 80 percent of their catch.The potential for serious injury or death from snagging injuries is considered high. Aquatics Manager, Louis Berg, likens foul hooking to wounding a deer. Catching and releasing numerous foul-hooked fish during a day of fishing is akin to shooting and wounding a number of deer during the deer season, but tagging only one.
Last fall the DWR convened a public meeting to discuss and resolve the problem. The two most common recommendations received were: (1) close the reservoir to fishing during the spawning period, and (2) make size regulations for splake more restrictive. In response, the DWR implemented the temporary closure and size regulation. The DWR is optimistic that these regulation changes will not only maintain, but also enhance this popular splake fishery.