Lice covered trout? It's not a problem

By: George deVilbiss
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Your rod takes a dive and the battle is on. When you dip your net into the water and net the fish, you wonder what you actually caught. It fought like a fish. It looks like a fish. Trouble is, you can’t see much of the fish. A problem with numerous lakes throughout the Sierra, especially in the summer months when even higher elevation lakes warm up, lice seem to heavily infect fish. Sometimes they’ll be en masse on the fish, in what appears to be a massive, white boil. Some fish will be so coated on the outside that it’s difficult to even see the color of the fish. It is a problem we see with many trout we catch at Lake Almanor. Anglers have told me they’ve seen the same thing at Lake Davis. And it occurs in most lakes throughout the region. At Lake Almanor, lice only seem to infect the smaller trout, the pound and a half and two pounders. Catch a three to five pounder, for some reason, they’ll be completely lice free. Catch any of the numerous king salmon in Lake Almanor and they appear to be lice free. Not so. Look inside their gill plate. Instead of massing on the outside of the fish, they’ll take up permanent residency in the gill region until the salmon eventually suffocate and die. What must be remembered is that while these lice make a fish look horrible, they will have virtually zero effect on the edibility of the fish. These lice are an external parasite and have virtually no effect on the flesh of the fish itself. While we’re not after the pound and a halfers, we regularly release them as soon as they’re brought to the boat, keeping them only if they took the hook too deeply as to successfully release them. This time of year, just about all are infested with lice. First of all, as many anglers already know, you should scale your fish, even trout. Scales are a fish’s way of producing their oils, which allows them to reduce friction in the water and that friction is what causes them to move quickly in the water with minimal effort. And, it is that oil that produces strong odors during cooking and makes for a stronger tasting fish, one reason some people actually dislike eating fish. If you want mild tasting fish, be sure to remove the scales from your trout, even the pansize trout you may catch. One of the easiest and quickest way to remove scales is with a short handled barbecue brush. Vigorously brush the fish beginning at the tail and working towards the head. The scales will come off quickly and easily and there will be virtually no damage to the fish. And, once the scales are off, what once was a difficult to hold onto, slimy fish, will now be dry and easy to handle and hold onto. And too, if that fish was covered in lice, the brush you used to take the scales off will also remove all the lice that were on the outside. Just go ahead and pan fry the fish whole or fillet the fish as you normally would on a fish that is now lice free. Current fishing Folsom Lake: Boats have to be out of the Brown’s Ravine Marina this week so reduced water traffic will be the rule, except for the upcoming Labor Day holiday weekend. All state park fees are making a considerable jump so expect to pay more for not only Folsom Lake but all state operated parks. Camping, a popular activity for holidays, will jump from $10 to $21 a night. Collins Reservoir: They plant the lake extremely heavily in the spring. Trout plants ended some time ago, but the trout fishery has remained decent for those dunking bait in the deeper water around the dam and even for those fishing around the docks. However, with the recent fire in the Dobbins area, it would be a good idea to stay away for now. Loon Lake: The lake has a lot of water in it and trollers are having a field day, mostly on rainbows, but some hefty browns are being caught as well. Trick for success is to be on the water before the sun hits and to troll deep. Work the water around the dam with a threaded crawler. Some lures will work but keep changing until you find the one to their liking that day. You can also work the Rubicon River section below the dam and pick up some good browns drifting a crawler, but that can also be some tough walking to get in and out of. Any questions, comments or concerns, contact George at