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Field Reports: Nature refills Pacific Lake, biologists add trout

FISHING – For the first time in more than 15 years, Pacific Lake north of Odessa, Washington, is full of water – good news that didn’t escape the region’s fisheries biologists.

A winter and spring of far-above average precipitation has brought back a hint of the years before deep-well irrigation lowered the area’s water table and drained wildlife-rich Lincoln County potholes.

Delzer Falls, a basalt-cliff waterfall on private property downstream from Pacific Lake, has been putting on a show that’s been on hold for a decade or more.

And anglers who might remember the once-fine fishing for stocked trout are getting their little piece of scablands heaven back.

Approximately 10,000 rainbow trout 9-10 inches long were stocked in Pacific Lake last week, said Randy Osborne, Washington Fish and Wildlife Department fisheries biologist.

“I didn’t stock it heavy,” he said. “But the lake should be very productive and the fish should grow fast since the lake bottom has been grass and vegetation for years. It should be full of nutrients.

“I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the lake will hold water for at least a couple of years.”

A public boat access and campsite is provided by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s Lakeview Ranch Recreation Area Ranch House site.

Wildflower walk celebrates South Hill bluff restoration

PARKS – Work to erase more than a mile of road illegally bulldozed into the South Hill bluffs city parklands in mid-April concluded Friday, according to the Spokane Parks and Recreation Department and Avista.

On Monday, a wildflower hike led by Spokane naturalist Jack Nisbet is being organized to help sooth user angst about the issue.

A company was contracted to regrade, hydroseed and replant trees and shrubs to begin healing the wound into the natural area. The road had been built on the slope above Hangman Creek without proper permits in order to facilitate building a par-3 golf course and for access to replace powerline poles.

According to a joint update, Avista will continue to monitor the area weekly through September, when trees and shrubs that do not survive the summer will be replaced.

The City Parks and Recreation Department plans to assume monitoring through 2023.

The city continues to ask users of the bluff trails to be respectful of the private property portion of the user-made trail system and to stay off the restored area by using only the trail system.

On Monday, Nisbet and Friends of the Bluff will begin a free wildflower walk at 6 p.m. starting from High Drive and 37th Avenue.

Toxicity level low in Roosevelt sturgeon

FISHING – The white sturgeon anglers are able to catch and keep in a new Lake Roosevelt fishery are healthy to eat for the first time, a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist says.

The Washington Department of Health lists the Columbia River reservoir in its fish consumption advisories for mercury and PCB contamination. Save levels of fish consumption vary by species.

Sturgeon haven’t been rated in the Health Department tables because the fish were protected until a season debuted on May 27.

“The state and the (Colville) Tribe tested the sturgeon last year before proposing to open the season,” said Bill Baker, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife fisheries biologist in Colville. “The fish in the 38- to 63-inch slot limit were tested and came back remarkably clean, about the same toxicity level as rainbow trout.”

Rainbow trout from Lake Roosevelt can be eaten with no problems by most people and up to twice a week by women who may become pregnant, nursing moms and children, the Health Department says.

Kokanee are the safest fish in the lake to eat while northern pikeminnow are the most toxic. Smallmouth bass and walleye should be eaten no more than once a week by the vulnerable women and children, the advisory says.

“Sturgeon are bottom feeders and predators, so you might expect bioaccumulations,” Baker said. “I think the reason they test clean is that as sturgeon go, these fish are young.”

The sturgeon in the slot limit that can be harvested are 7-17 years old, he said, noting that “White sturgeon live upwards of 100 years.”

Poor run prompts restrictions on summer steelheading

FISHING – Restrictions on summer steelhead fishing in the Columbia River Basin were announced Friday in response to projections of the lowest returns in 37 years.

Details of the restrictions, including a one-fish daily limit starting Friday, are on the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife website.


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