Posts tagged: net pens
FISHING — Next year’s fishing season looks bright at Curlew Lake in Ferry County. About 20 volunteers helped the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department introduce 170,000 rainbow trout, 4-5 inches long, delivered last month to the a net pen tended by the Curlew Lake Association.
Hatchery trucks deposited the fish in predator-proof floating net pens local volunteers constructed and tended from pontoon boats. The fish were allowed to acclimate. Then the nets were slowly towed to the middle of the lake and released where they have a better chance of surviving their initial swim into Curlew without getting ambushed by bass and other predators.
In addition, the volunteers raise about 57,000 rainbow fry from the Spokane Fish Hatchery in net pens near Tiffany’s Resort. The fish are received in May and released in November as 9 inchers with even more capability of avoiding predation. The fish grow about a half inch a month, according to tagging studies facilitated by local volunteers.
Those fish are available to anglers now, but they’ll be about a foot long when anglers start showing up with big expectations in April and even larger for the summer crowds.
The Curlew Lake Association is doing great things for the local community and anglers far and wide by cleaning those pens, tending the fish and other lake improvement projects during the year. They welcome new active volunteers. Info: Bobbi Weller, association president, (509) 755-3690.
FISHING– This year’s late runoff and deep drawdown at Lake Roosevelt has delivered a double whammy to trout and kokanee anglers.
The prolonged increased flows and the reservoir’s low water levels likely have flushed significant numbers of carryover trout over Grand Coulee Dam, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife fish managers say.
And starting in mid-May, the upcoming crop of young rainbows had to be released prematurely as they were dying in their net pens.
Normally the fish are raised in the net pens until spring runoff is under control and the reservoir has filled to within 10 feet or so of full pool, said Chris Donley, district fish biologist.
But the prolonged low water levels apparently stressed the 8-inch-long trout by reducing the room they had in the net pens, Donley said.
“The protocol is to release them if we’re losing more than 2 percent of the fish a day,” he said. “They went out a little undersized, but not sick, so at least the have a chance.”
Anglers trolling the surface have been hooking the young fish. But many have been seen dead along the shores and even more are expected to be flushed out of the system.
“Our expectation is that catch rates will be much lower for the rest of the year,” Donley said, noting that a gentle runoff last year promoted excellent trout fishing that continued through the winter and spring.
“But I’m cautiously optimistic because we’ve been surprised before. You never know for sure.”
FISHING — The Colville Tribe is saying the recent loss of perhaps a million rainbow trout in commercial net pens downstream from Grand Coulee Dam might scuttle the regular release of net pen trout for anglers in Lake Rufus Woods.
A story in Northwest Sportsman Magazine quotes Colville spokeswoman Sheri Sears as saying the tribe's normal release of 4,000 3- to 4-pounders a month from fall into spring helps ensure good fishing in some areas of the 50-mile-long reservoir.
“Typically we buy $60,000 worth of triploids from the netpens. This year we probably won’t have those available,” Sears told NSM.
She said tribal managers foresaw the high flows and released their redband rainbow broodstock from the pens.
People are catching fish in a wide range of sizes.
FISHERIES — Commercial net-pen-raised rainbows are dying by the hundreds of thousands from the impact of the huge runoff pouring down the Columbia River through Grand Coulee Dam — and federal water managers say there's little they can do to help the Pacific Seafood operators.
This year's spring snow melt is forcing the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to increase water flows through the dam. The turbulent water is releasing gases, including nitrogen, which inflicts on fish a condition similar to the bends in scuba divers when they surface too quickly. Gas levels have been more than 130% of normal recently, the Seattle Times reports.
“We've easily got hundreds of thousands of dead fish,” Bill Clark told the Seattle paper. He works for Pacific Aquaculture, which farms big rainbows, marketed as steelhead.
Pacific Aquaculture's parent company, Pacific Seafood, says it is losing 100,000 fish a day from the 2.7 million still living on the farm in the river 20 miles south of the Grand Coulee, according to a report on SeattlePI.com.
Washington Fish and Wildlife Department fisheries biologists say wild fish are not likely to suffer serious impacts from they increased flows, since they are not bound by nets and can move deeper to more favorable water conditions.
However, this years' big drawdown and outflow from the dam likely is flushing man rainbows and kokanee downstream and out of the Lake Roosevelt system, they say.
This year's net pen crop of sport fish in Lake Roosevelt are scheduled for release after the runoff to help assure they'll stay in the reservoir.
Pacific Aquaculture manager John Bielka doesn't agree with state fisheries biologists regarding the impacts of the flows on fisheries.
“They're basically sterilizing this entire stretch of river,” Bielka told the Times. “That's going to wipe out not only the fish in our farm, but also the bull trout, the lamprey, the sturgeon and every other wild thing.”
Bureau officials told the Times they have no alternative - there's simply too much melting snow that would cause flooding if the dam flow were lessened.
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.