Trout are growing large for Rotary's first youth fishing day on May 25

Shareen Strauss
As trophy-size rainbow trout break water in the pen at his feet, Rotary Project Manager Tom Stienstra, right, talks to other Rotarians during a tour of trout pens project. The fish, 16 to 18 inches long, will be released in Lake Siskiyou prior to the youth fishing program planned for May 25.

The Mount Shasta Rotary club is making a dream come true with their trophy-size trout program at Lake Siskiyou.

Touring the trout pens that were erected at the end of last year, Rotary Club members got a closeup look at the success of their project seeing triploid rainbow trout that have gained three pounds and are now up to 16 to 18 inches long.

Rotary Project Manager Tom Stienstra said that this came about as an idea at a party.

“We will be releasing the fish during the beginning of May for a youth fishing day on May 25. This is a world chance experience without going to Alaska to catch three to five-pound wild rainbow trout. If we can do this here, we can do this throughout California.”

And Emmy award winning writer, Stienstra will be donating 100 copies of his latest book, “Moon West Coast RV Camping” through the Boys & Girls Club for the Youth Fishing Day, when they will be busing in children for this special event.

There are three pens, each 10 feet deep and 12 feet long providing a large quality volume for optimal fish growth. Each pen is equipped with battery-powered feeders that automatically feed the fish three to five times a day.

Because these trout are “triploids,” they cannot breed, and in turn, grow faster – about an inch per month and will take on the characteristics of wild fish.

According to Stienstra, the mortality rate has been less than 1 percent. The pens, designed and fabricated by Greg Juell, are predator proof.

“Next year we will fine tune the pens. We want fishing to be great again for big fish at Lake Siskiyou and we know how to make that happen,” Stienstra said. “We will provide a pamphlet and booklet for anyone who wants to replicate this program.”

More than 40 groups, businesses and individuals are partnering with Rotarian volunteers for the project, including the Department of Fish and Wildlife, Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors, Sousa Ready Mix, Campbell Global, Lake Siskiyou Marina, Kokanee Power, and Gary Bechtel with Foothill Foundation.

The project was structured to be sustainable and received no negative filings from CEQA. There was no profit involved and no fish were taken away from local programs. These fish were trucked in from the Crystal Hatchery at Baum Lake.

“This is another example of Rotary being involved with other things in the community that people don’t realize,” said Rotarian Doug Carter.