Fishing tournaments temporarily suspended on Apache, Canyon and Saguaro lakes

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The fishing pier at Saguaro lake. (29 May 2017) [Source: Arizona Game and Fish Dept.] The fishing pier at Saguaro lake. (29 May 2017) [Source: Arizona Game and Fish Dept.]
The tranquil waters of Apache lake, Arizona. (29 May 2017) [Source: Arizona Game and Fish Dept.] The tranquil waters of Apache lake, Arizona. (29 May 2017) [Source: Arizona Game and Fish Dept.]
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

The Arizona Game and Fish Department has requested that the USDA Forest Service temporarily suspend angler tournaments from Apache, Canyon and Saguaro lakes until environmental conditions improve.

Golden alga blooms, which produces a toxin that affects any organism with gills, have developed over large portions of Saguaro and Apache lakes according to officials with the AZGFD.

The primary species affected by the golden alga is the threadfin shad. However, sunfish in Saguaro have also begun to die and Asiatic clams are dying by the tens of thousands, said the Game and Fish Department.

The golden alga can be detected by fish and usually, they will seek refuge in areas where they can recover. However, clams can’t move and die where they live after exposure to the golden alga toxins.

The Game and Fish Department said at a recent bass tournament at Apache Lake, 38 dead bass were counted at the release site. These bass were caught in an area of no or low toxicity and then released in an area of an active toxic golden alga bloom.

Some tournament participants reported having difficulty keeping their caught bass alive in their live well holding tanks, in which the golden alga toxin can be delivered straight to the fish if the bloom is active on the surface.

Golden alga blooms are not a public health threat and the toxins produced are only harmful to gill-breathing organisms such as fish and clams, said the Game and Fish Department. It is still advised as a precaution to not eat dead or dying fish.

From previous experiences on these three reservoirs, the Game and Fish Department has found that as the water warms up, other algae communities will begin to dominate and the golden alga blooms diminish. They anticipate this happening by late June or early July.

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