Today it is relegated to mostly isolated lakes, reservoirs, and ponds with few predators. But as the planet heats up and threatens many cold-water game fish species like trout, the Sacramento perch may be on the cusp of a comeback, thanks in part to its ability to tolerate warm water and extreme conditions.
State officials recently introduced Sacramento perch to Southern California in an attempt to widen its range, strengthen its gene pool, create a breeding stock and generate interest among more anglers. Biologists with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife released the first batch of 37 mostly juvenile Sacramento perch on Thursday evening in San Diego County’s only natural lake, Lindo Lake in Lakeside, a suburb east of the city of San Diego.
“It’s a native game fish that we can promote as a viable fishery in the future where we may not be able to have trout in certain areas because of climate change and warming waters,” environmental scientist Matt Lucero with the department said after releasing the fish in batches.
Climate Change Threatens Trout in the West
The multiyear experiment reflects the changes facing sportfishing as rivers, streams, lakes, and ponds warm. Climate change is the biggest threat to the survival of trout in America’s interior West, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. It estimates up to 50% of trout habitat in the Rocky Mountain region is at risk of disappearing by the end of the century.
Sacramento perch will never replace trout, state biologists said. Instead, the focus is on preserving a native species, and as an added benefit, the fish could allow anglers another option as temperatures rise, limiting seasons for cold-water species in some places.
Max Fish, the department’s senior environmental scientist overseeing the efforts, said the hope is it can be