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Trout stocking planned at northern Nevada lake where 100,000 fish died in December

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SPARKS, Nevada — Months after oxygen levels crashed and killed off an urban Nevada lake's entire fishery, state wildlife officials said they are ready to begin stocking fish on Tuesday in the now-stabilized water.

That's good news for anglers who haven't been able to cast a line at the popular Sparks Marina since the massive die-off more than three months ago.

Scientists have been monitoring the man-made lake along Interstate 80 just east of Reno since an estimated 100,000 trout, catfish and bass died in mid-December during a cold snap. They suspect near-zero temperatures caused a violent turnover in the lake when the oxygen-rich waters on the surface quickly cooled and sank to the bottom.

The Nevada Department of Wildlife is confident the oxygen level now can support fish, spokesman Chris Healy said.

PHOTO: ADVANCE FOR USE MONDAY MARCH 31, 2014, AND THEREAFTER- FILE - In this Jan. 15, 2014 file photo, pedestrians making their way around the Sparks Marina in Sparks, Nev. Scientists have been monitoring the marina since an estimated 10,000 trout, bass and catfish died in the lake. State wildlife officials say they're ready to begin stocking the Sparks Marina now that oxygen levels have normalized after crashing and choking off the urban lake's entire fishery during a cold snap three months ago. (AP Photo/Scott Sonner, File)
ADVANCE FOR USE MONDAY MARCH 31, 2014, AND THEREAFTER- FILE - In this Jan. 15, 2014 file photo, pedestrians making their way around the Sparks Marina in Sparks, Nev. Scientists have been monitoring the marina since an estimated 10,000 trout, bass and catfish died in the lake. State wildlife officials say they're ready to begin stocking the Sparks Marina now that oxygen levels have normalized after crashing and choking off the urban lake's entire fishery during a cold snap three months ago. (AP Photo/Scott Sonner, File)

On Tuesday, agency officials plan to stock 8,000 rainbow trout, with another 26,000 or more trout likely to be added this year, Healy said.

"Three sets of tests conducted since February have confirmed that oxygen levels in the Sparks Marina have recovered to adequate levels and to sufficient depths to allow the stocking of trout," Healy said Friday. "It's good news because it's always been a popular fishery."

Healy cautioned that fully restoring the fishery will take time.

"People will be able to catch fish, but you have a whole big lake there without any fish in it, so it's going to take a while to get the fishery back like it was," he told the Reno Gazette-Journal.

Restocking plans mean the annual free fishing day, typically attended by thousands of youths, can proceed as planned June 14.

Plans to stock warm water fish — including catfish and bass — in the marina and other parts of western Nevada have been put on hold by drought conditions and will be delayed until at least 2015.

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