Castalia and London state fish hatcheries are free of Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS), according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife.
VHS is a virus that can cause death in fish, but is not a public health threat. Muskellunge from Clear Fork Reservoir sampled during routine egg collection in late April tested positive for the virus in tests completed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), June 2. No fish kill was associated with the presence of the virus at Clear Fork.
Prior to this being known, three routine but significant events had occurred:
1. Eggs that had been collected from the reservoir were taken to the London State Fish Hatchery for muskie rearing and subsequent stocking;
2. Rainbow trout at London were transferred to the Castalia State Fish Hatchery to grow out for the state’s fall trout stocking effort; and
3. Surplus muskie fry from the London Hatchery were stocked at Alum Creek Lake.
On June 2, the Division was notified of the potential problem. It immediately contacted the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA), which has authority for fish health in the state, regarding the VHS positive results and the activity related to Clear Fork that had occurred at the hatcheries. The ODA placed the Castalia and London hatcheries under quarantine until three consecutive negative tests for VHS could be confirmed for each location.
Also in response to the virus’ presence, the Division and the USFWS sampled six locations from Clear Fork Reservoir downstream to the confluence of the Muskingum and Ohio rivers. All test results were negative for VHS.
Testing for the virus at the London and Castalia hatcheries has been completed. On Sept. 19, London State Hatchery was cleared and the Castalia Fish Hatchery had its quarantine lifted Sept. 22.
With these clearances, fall stocking of muskellunge and rainbow trout will pro-ceed as scheduled. Twenty-six Ohio lakes will be stocked with 25,000 catchable rain-bow trout throughout October. Advanced muskie fingerlings reared from the eggs taken earlier this year from the Clear Fork Reservoir were stocked in Clear Fork Sept. 23 and were stocked in Alum Creek Lake on Sept. 24.