Outdoors blog

Massive fish kill reported at Lake Rufus Woods

Rainbow trout are dying by the thousands in Lake Rufus Woods net pens. Owners of Pacific Seafoods say the massive water releases out of Grand Coulee Dam are creating dissolved gases that are killing downstream fish.  (Pacific Seafoods)
Rainbow trout are dying by the thousands in Lake Rufus Woods net pens. Owners of Pacific Seafoods say the massive water releases out of Grand Coulee Dam are creating dissolved gases that are killing downstream fish. (Pacific Seafoods)

FISHERIES -- Owners of Pacific Seafood say the dissolved gasses resulting from increased flows out of Grand Coulee Dam are killing up to 100,000 large rainbow trout a day in the commercial net pens downstream.

The fish are raised in the Lake Rufus Woods net pens for sale and for stocking the Colville Indian Reservation lakes.   The fish also help nurture a popular rainbow trout sport fishery.

Pacific Seafood officials called on the Bureau of Reclamation to alter the way it’s coping with flood-stage flows out of Grand Coulee, although the resolution isn't clear since the Columbia River is flooding in its lower reaches.

 “If this practice isn’t stopped immediately, it will result in more than $30 million in economic damage to our company alone,” Craig Urness, Pacific Seafood spokesman said today.

“There are currently 2.7 million fish still living on the fish farm that are being threatened by this environmental and economic catastrophe.”

Washington Fish and Wildlife Department fisheries biologists had not investigated the fish kill.  They said wild fish outside the net pens would likely have the opportunity to detect poor water conditions and move to safer waters.  However, they couldn't say for certain today.




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Rich Landers
Rich Landers writes and photographs stories for a wide range of outdoors coverage, including a Sunday feature section and a Thursday column. He also writes the Outdoors Blog.

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