Sick Fish

MGTom

Living at the place of many waters
WFF Supporter
I've been a little worried, run across some fish with a disease I think in the last 2 weeks. They are making up maybe 5% of the catch in one river reach. Up until yesterday they just had some white blotches/streaks (like fungus?) but this one yesterday had open sores (both sides). I'm rinsing and drying stuff well, and not wearing the same boots watershed to watershed just in case. I've sent the pic's off to WDFW Spokane but I have not heard back yet. Does anyone recognize this? Maybe I'm overreacting, I don't know what I'm looking at.
20210618_120845.jpg
 
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Saltycutthroat

Active Member
I occasionally see this on SeaRun cutthroat out of a certain system in southwest Washington. I could never figure out if it was from an eel/lamprey which singlehandjay and cdnerd suggested, or if it was some sort of bacterial infection. Regardless, I’m curious what’s happening as well. Maybe @cabezon knows?
 

cabezon

Sculpin Enterprises
WFF Supporter
I occasionally see this on SeaRun cutthroat out of a certain system in southwest Washington. I could never figure out if it was from an eel/lamprey which singlehandjay and cdnerd suggested, or if it was some sort of bacterial infection. Regardless, I’m curious what’s happening as well. Maybe @cabezon knows?
I'm a bit stumped. I assume that MGTom is fishing an inland river. My initial thought was that the larger wound is so clean and so symmetrical that it is consistent with a Pacific lamprey wound. The site is suspicious, halfway down the body. But on closer examination, there are two wounds on this side and two lines of scale damage below the wounds (the streaks). Further, the freshwater larval form of the Pacific lamprey, the ammocoetes, live as filter-feeders in silt/sand for 5-7 years before migrating to the ocean. It is in the ocean where they are known for parasitizing a range of fish species. I do not believe that they are known to feed when they return to freshwater to breed
So if not lamprey, what? If an eagle or osprey, you would expect to see deeper, penetrating wounds, often symmetrical. And to be honest, a smaller fish like that would be unlikely to escape. Similarly, if the culprit was a river otter, you would expect a penetrating wound. Other fish-eating birds, such as a merganser or great blue heron, would not make that superficial a wound.
Could it be some sort of infection? Perhaps. This could be evidence of a secondary infection after poor fish handling / stressful water temperatures. But I do not remember seeing similar infections on fish that are caught-and-released quite a bit, such as Yakima fish or St. Joe fish.
No definitive answer at this point.
Steve
 

cabezon

Sculpin Enterprises
WFF Supporter
I wouldn't think lamprey could get up to the Walla Walla area. They have to inch their ways up the fish ladders and rapids.
Hi Zen,
Historically, lampreys made it all the way to Idaho but they are likely extinct in these farther headlands (see Pacific lamprey range and status). They can make their way up fish ladders. I have seen them at the Bonnevile Fish Ladder (Lampreys at Bonneville fish ladder). Rapids are not a problem but dams are as are the impoundments behind the dams. Downstream juvenile fish passage past the dams is focused on salmonids, not lampreys. The tribes, state, and feds have been placing more emphasis on lampreys in recent years. They have great cultural importance among the tribes.
Steve
 

MGTom

Living at the place of many waters
WFF Supporter
Hey, you guys may be on to something. I'm pretty sure they have done this already in the Walla Walla systems and I have heard of returns, and now I see this for another watershed.
CTUIR Tucannon Lampray release
also Tribal Distribution
As the guy who's probably on the water the most I like to keep an eye on things.
 
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cdnred

Active Member
Hey, you guys may be on to something. I'm pretty sure they have done this already in the Walla Walla systems and I have heard of returns, and now I see this for another watershed.
CTUIR Tucannon Lampray release
also Tribal Distribution
As the guy who's probably on the water the most I like to keep an eye on things.
This seems to be the case for these scarred fish that you came across. Very interesting that Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian are trying to restore the Lamprey population. I never thought that the Lamprey played such an important part of their heritage. Be interesting to see how it develops..
 

Bruce Baker

Active Member
@MGTom in regard to your comment "I'm rinsing and drying stuff well, and not wearing the same boots watershed to watershed just in case," you may also want to consider decontamination if you are using felt bottomed wading boots, if you were not already aware, you can use hot water, freeze, or chemical method. Here is a link to the WDFW web page about preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species and talks about the different decontamination methods - https://wdfw.wa.gov/species-habitats/invasive/prevention
 

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