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The Shotem' and Caughtem' Blog is the place to find the latest reviews and commentary on gear, destinations, conditions, events, and general knowledge to inform our readers and give our opinions to anyone listening.

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Wednesday, 07 August 2013 19:44

Poisoned Fish Inhabit California Lakes

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We at Shotem and Caughtem built this website based on our love of the great outdoors.  Even more important to us is the ability to pass this tradition down to future generations.  Many groups have been attacking the sport, but reports like this are usually made as a result of our industry as a whole.  Unfortunately the mistakes of past generations has a direct bearing on what we leave behind for the next.  As such, the northern half of California has issued a ban on fish consumption from local rivers and lakes due to high mercury levels contained in the fish.  

The new advisory recommends that women between the ages of 18 and 45 and children under 18 should avoid eating bass, carp and brown trout larger than 16 inches because of a risk of methyl mercury exposure, which has been shown to damage the brain and nervous system.

Some species of fish, including bullhead, catfish and bluegill, are acceptable for consumption at one serving a week. Species that are safe to eat include wild-caught rainbow trout and small brown trout. The advisory and guidelines stem from OEHHA's evaluation of 272 lakes and reservoirs, and 2,600 fish samples.

The advisory combined mercury data from fish in California lakes that currently do not have advisories and compared those mercury levels to acceptable human exposure levels.

In the Sacramento region, at Folsom Lake and Lake Notoma, the advisory recommends following the new guidelines if the fish caught are not covered by already set location-specific guidelines.  In the Sierra, the guidelines apply to lakes including Lake Wildwood, Scotts Flat and Bullards Bar, as well as the Union Valley Reservoir.

The guidelines dovetail with what is known about streams in the Delta, where fish sampling has established the presence of high mercury levels due to historic mining operations in the late 19th century, where mercury was widely used. A recently released study found that sportfish in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta watershed had higher concentrations of mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) than anywhere else in the state.

The advisories can be found at www.oehha.ca.gov/fish.html.