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Apr 16, 2012 4:50 PM

AZGFD restocks Pena Blanca Lake with over 2,000 fish

TUCSON - The Arizona Game and Fish Department has stocked nearly 2,000 largemouth bass, redear and bluegill sunfish, and channel catfish in Pena Blanca lake, near Rio Rico, south of Tucson.

The fish were stocked into the lake on Friday, marking the beginning of an effort to reestablish fish populations in the lake after a dredging project by the U.S. Forest Service, according to a news release from AZGFD.

"Timing is everything when stocking fish, and the timing could not have been better in this case," said Fish Program Supervisor Don Mitchell of Game and Fish in Tucson. "It just so happens that the department is ready to begin the renovation of its Bubbling Pond warm water fish hatchery, and the current resident population of warm water fish had to be moved to facilitate the project. Luckily, we were first in line to receive these fish, and I think the anglers are going to be very excited about the quality of the fish we were able to stock."

Game and Fish is reminding anglers that all largemouth bass caught at Pena Blanca lake must be released alive, allowing for stocked fish to mature and reproduce.

"One of the major challenges with this project is balancing the needs of the angling public with that of native Chiricahua leopard frogs found in and around Pena Blanca Lake," said Regional Supervisor Raul Vega of Game and Fish in Tucson. "We are committed to protecting Chiricahua leopard frog populations, and it is imperative that American bullfrogs not become reestablished at the lake."

Suspected illegal stocking of any aquatic species to the lake should be reported immediately to Operation Game Thief at: 1-800-352-0700.

All health advisories against eating warm water fish caught in Pena Blanca Lake remain in effect. At this time, it is not known whether the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality will lift these advisories.

Pictured: Don Mitchell of Arizona Game and Fish with a redear sunfish and channel catfish released Friday at Pena Blanca Lake. Photos by Jason Kline

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