December 9, 2012 in Outdoors

Gerrard rainbows still thrill anglers

Even shore anglers have shot at Lake Pend Oreille’s famous fish
By The Spokesman-Review

Richter holds a 31.5-pound rainbow.
(Full-size photo)

Kams or Gerrards?

 Kamloops and Gerrards are terms used interchangeably for the strain of trophy rainbows in Lake Pend Oreille.

  “Kamloops are a strain of rainbow found throughout interior British Columbia,” said Panhandle fisheries manager Jim Fredericks. “They would also be ‘redbands’ technically, since they’re interior rainbow trout.

  “Gerrards (introduced to Lake Pend Oreille in 1941) are a type of Kamloops trout originally found only in Kootenay Lake. They get big because they are piscivorous and mature a little later than other rainbows, typically at 6-8 years of age.”

Sandpoint fly fisher Aaron Richter has firsthand evidence that trophy Gerrard rainbows are still available in the Lake Pend Oreille system.

Richter’s best catch was a 31-pound, 42-inch long rainbow while fly fishing near a Clark Fork River tributary in 2010.

“These trophy fish are a Lake Pend Oreille angler’s equivalent to steelhead,” he said.

“They make themselves available to fly fishers once a year as they head toward stream spawning areas.”

Spring runoff water conditions can be tough, but the rewards can be huge during the short window of opportunity, said Richter, who grew up in Hope and has been a lifelong student of the fishery.

“I’m pleased the new (2013) regulations will continue to allow us to fish the tributaries during spring while prohibiting harvest,” he said. “Since 2006, anglers were asked to bonk these trophy fish if they caught them for the good of the kokanee and the overall fishery, and a lot of people did.”

Richter, 33, said he’s “a huge advocate” of the new rules that will close rainbow harvest in the Clark Fork River and tributaries from Dec. 1 through the Friday before Memorial Day weekend.

“These trophy fish have genetics we need to preserve,” he said.

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