FISHING -- The revival of trout fishing at Badger Lake, one of Washington’s most productive put-and-take fisheries for rainbows and cutthroats, is on hold at least for another year.
Washington Fish and Wildlife officials said today that they have canceled plans for a fall rotenone treatment that would rid the Spokane County lake of bass and sunfish to eliminate competition for a renewed trout fishery.
John Whalen, regional fisheries manager, said the agency was unable to get all water rights holders to sign a Department of Ecology agreement that precludes using lake water during the treatment period.
In August, fisheries biologists said at least 38 of the 45 property owners were on board with the rotenone treatment during a meeting for stakeholders.
Badger has been managed for trout for more than 60 years. But in recent years, apparent illegal plants of bass and sunfish have degraded the trout fishery.
At a summer public meeting, bass anglers said Badger was one of the area’s hottest largemouth fisheries, with fish in the 4-plus pound range.
State fisheries biologists said the bass fishery was peaking and would degrade in the next few years. They said that managing for trout is more stable and serves a higher number of anglers in a year.
- May I add that they also likely were wondering who the hell is illegally planting bass in the lake, making a selfish management decision that flushes thousands of dollars of fishing license fee money the public contributes down the drain! But I digress...
Badger Lake’s fishing season closed Tuesday. When it reopens on the fourth Saturday in April, it will have a token plant of trout, if any.
“We’ll be reconsidering a rehab for next year,” said Randall Osborne, district fisheries biologist. “But our June fish survey found that of 17,000 fish collected, 47 percent were pumpkinseed sunfish and 49 percent was largemouth and smallmouth bass. With those odds, we can’t afford to put many trout in the lake.”
The Williams Lake trout fishery also is in jeopardy, since it’s downstream from Badger and soon will be infested, too, he said. Williams Lake generally is on the rotation of being treated with rotenone within a year or two of Badger.
“Trout fisheries generate the most interest in terms of families and businesses,” said Chris Donley, inland fisheries program manager, noting that the once-stellar fisheries at Liberty, Diamond, Silver and North Silver have been lost to the trout program in the past few decades. “I’d hate to lose Badger from the trout program.
“We’re down to just six trout-managed lakes in Spokane County and Badger can be one of the best.”