Fishing Report: Carnero Lake
Carnero Lake, located near Greens Peak in Apache County, has experienced a fish die-off that started last week. AZGFD personnel investigated the the fish kill and determined that poor water quality conditions are the cause. No fish diseases or toxins were detected. More than 200 large dead trout, mostly rainbow trout but also some tiger trout, were counted, along with another several dozen that were very stressed.
The lake level is very low due to the severe drought that is being experienced across the southwest. Extremely poor snowfall during the winter failed to fill the lake adequately during the winter and spring, and the water level has dropped considerably during late spring and early summer due to evaporation. Combined with extremely hot conditions, water quality fell to a point that was lethal to trout. Water temperatures were in the 70s and pH was extremely high at 10.4. Low oxygen conditions in the early mornings may have contributed to the lethal conditions.
However, the fish kill was not a total kill and some trout have survived. Unfortunately it appears that the larger trout were the hardest hit. Very few if any smaller trout died. Larger trout have a higher oxygen demand and tend to be the only fish that die when conditions are just marginal and not extreme enough to kill all the fish.
The Department plans to monitor the conditions at Carnero, but not a lot can be done except wait for the monsoon season. While monsoon rains won’t raise the lake level, it will bring cooler air temperatures and some small level of relief for the lake.
Mike Lopez is AZGFD’s fish program manager out of Pinetop