The earliest documented fish survey of Ruby Valley, conducted in the 1940s, indicated that the Relict Dace was the only species present. It was also discovered that Relict Dace existed only in freshwater marshes, streams, and springs in northeastern Nevada. Learn more about an ongoing project to protect this rare, native species.
It was also in the 1940s when Largemouth Bass were stocked at Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge for sportfishing. The bass are no longer stocked, but spawn in the South Marsh and other areas of the refuge. They feed mostly during warmer temperatures. Because of the long cold
season at Ruby Lake they grow very slowly, about 2 inches per year.
Catching bass in July and August is usually fairly easy, but catching
them big enough to keep (10 inches or greater) is more of a challenge.
Rainbow Trout, Brown Trout, and Brook Trout were later stocked to
provide additional fishing opportunities. The Gallagher State Fish
Hatchery, located on the Refuge, still stocks Rainbow Trout and Tiger Trout in
the collection ditch and several ponds on the south end of the Refuge to
sustain fishable populations.
Bass and trout spread throughout the marsh feeding on Relict Dace, until
they all but disappeared. Non-native Speckled Dace were then introduced to
provide forage for the hungry sportfish. The non-native dace were also
depleted by bass and trout. But, in a
few isolated springs, Speckled Dace spawned with Relict Dace and produced a
hybrid dace population which persists on the Refuge. Only three tiny springs supported small
populations of pure, native Relict Dace by 2011.
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Relict Dace, the only native species of fish at Ruby Lake, has reduced and hybridized populations due to introduction of several non-native species. A project is underway to preserve the biological integrity of the Relict Dace.