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Saturday, October 19, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Rain 43° Rain

Selective Fishery Lakes Increase

By Fenton Roskelley The Spokesman-R

There’ll likely be more “selective fishery” lakes in Eastern Washington next year.

Joe Foster, Columbia Basin regional fishery biologist, said that he will recommend that at least five lakes and one creek be designated selective fishery waters. And he’s considering recommending the designation for other Basin lakes in the future.

He would like the department and commission to give quality water status to Homestead Lake, Homestead Creek, Beda Lake and three brookie lakes. All were treated with rotenone last year and are being planted with small trout. By next year, if all goes well, trout in the lakes will be big enough to break an 8-pound line or tippet.

Homestead Lake is a 30-acre lake in the Moses Lake area. Homestead Creek is more than a mile and a half long. Beda and the brookie lakes are a few miles southwest of Moses Lake.

Most are shallow and therefore subject to winter kill. Beda may be deep enough for fish to survive most severe winters. Foster has scheduled a project to raise Homestead’s level by adding boards at the dam.

Most anglers in the Basin have fished the lakes, and they’ll be looking forward to fishing them again. If stringent fishing regulations aren’t adopted, though, the anglers will deplete the trout populations.

Beda could provide fishing for trophy rainbows. It has excellent insect hatches and the trout grow exceptionally fast. A 7-incher released in the spring will be 13 inches long by late summer and 15 inches by the time ice covers the lake.

Foster said he’ll also ask that fly fishers be required to release all trout hooked at Rocky Ford Creek, a fly fishing-only lake about 15 miles north of Moses Lake. Fly fishers now can keep one trout a day.

Although most fly fishers release all the rainbows they hook, 5 percent or more kill fish every time they fish the lake. Inasmuch as anglers are prohibited from wading the spring creek, they have difficulty releasing the trout they hook, particularly when they fish from high banks. As a result, the mortality rate is higher at Rocky Ford than it is at comparable spring creeks and streams, where the fish can be kept under water while they’re being released.

Thus, the higher-than-normal mortality rate associated with releasing fish, combined with natural mortality and the killing of fish by anglers who want to take trophy-sized fish home, has resulted in a big drop in the stream’s trout population. Rocky Ford last was planted two years ago.

Eventually, Foster said, Halfmoon and Morgan lakes on the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge, as well as Railroad Pond and Finnel Lake may be designated selective fishery lakes.

Halfmoon and Morgan once provided excellent fishing for rainbows, but now are filled with several spiny ray species. Finnel is a 31-acre lake near Ritzville.

Quail Lake, a 12-acre lake on the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge north of Othello, once again could be one of the top fly fishing-only lakes in Eastern Washington if plans for rehabbing and planting it with large sterilized rainbows are carried out. The lake will be treated with rotenone this spring and planted after the water no longer is toxic.

Foster said the department will get 12-inch sterilized rainbows from Troutlodge Inc., which has two hatcheries along Rocky Ford Creek. He hopes that the trout will be big enough to escape the cormorants that have learned to follow hatchery trucks and eat most of the fry planted in the lakes.

The selective fishery lake program has been a remarkable success. Most lakes that are under the selective fishery regulations, which ban the use of bait and permit the killing of only one or two fish a day, have big trout.

Among the best are Lenice, Nunnally, Merry, Dry Falls, Lenore, Ell and Amber.

One selective fishery lake, Blue in the Sinlahekin Valley, was rehabilitated last fall and planted with rainbows, which should be 10 inches long this spring. It should produce excellent fishing for good-sized rainbows by next season.

Muskegon, an 8-acre lake east of Metaline Falls near the Idaho border, was designated a selective fishery lake last year. It should yield good-sized cutthroat in a year or two if poachers don’t do their dirty work.

, DataTimes MEMO: You can contact Fenton Roskelley by voice mail at 459-5577, extension 3814.

The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Fenton Roskelley The Spokesman-Review

You can contact Fenton Roskelley by voice mail at 459-5577, extension 3814.

The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Fenton Roskelley The Spokesman-Review

Wordcount: 734
Tags: column

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