Fear and Fishing in Lake Davis is a tale about people, and government, and the fish that came between them. In 1994, CDFG officials discovered that anglers had illegally introduced northern pike, a popular Midwestern sport fish, into Lake Davis, a Sierra Nevada reservoir located in rural California. CDFG officials were concerned that pike would make t heir way downstream from Lake Davis into California's besieged Bay-Delta system, where a new predator could harm both commercially important and endangered native fish species. Pike also posed a threat in Lake Davis. The local economy depends on a healthy trout fishery, which is imperiled by the presence of the predatory pike. To get rid of the invasive pike, the California Dept. of Fish and Game decided to poison the lake and kill the pike. Residents in the nearby town of Portola, which gets its drinking water from Lake Davis, were outraged.
Despite strong community objections, CDFG treated Lake Davis with formulated rotenone in 1997. Although the Department had successfully used this combination of chemicals to eradicate pike from nearby waterways in the past, pike resurfaced in Lake Davis seventeen months later.