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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Time to make most of your no-snow woes

Rich Landers The Spokesman-Review

Before considering state record trout issues and the high price one angler is paying for lost love, let us bow our heads to winter and the skier’s essential virtue.

Some of my skiing friends pulled out their road bikes last weekend. But I went to Mount Spokane and willed my way past the tree needles and bare spots along the first stretch of the nordic ski area and found some excellent skating on the open trails.

The young skiers I passed were having a blast. Kids need only enough snow to ski. They don’t need billowing piles of powder to be happy.

But almost everyone on the mountain was thinking positive skier thoughts. Relatively speaking, it was a banner day on the boards. The snow conditions here are way better than they are in Iraq.

People liken the ski industry to farming: Both are a gamble with the weather.

But farmers have seeds. Some farmers have the options of sprinklers and most farmers have government programs.

Farmers have hope and charity.

Skiers have only faith.

Snow dance: If you need more than faith, go to Mount Spokane Ski Area’s Lodge 2 on Friday starting at 5 p.m. for the Snow Dance Party, featuring a barbecue, prizes, beer specials and live music by The Other White Meat.

Triploid tribulation: Is it a trout or is it a pig?

That’s generally the question several readers posed in one way or another to a recent column on the grotesquely huge rainbow trout found in Lake Rufus Woods.

A reader named Chuck called to say that genetically altered “triploid” trout should not be in the same state record category with normal rainbow trout.

Chuck is right, of course.

A genetically altered crop of sterile female rainbows released in fishing waters have made the hearts of anglers sing. Their reels, too. But should we be letting them foul the record books?

The sterile trout live at least twice as long and can grow to twice the size of normal hatchery trout.

The fish, known as triploid females, do not suffer the rigors of developing reproductive organs. They do not waste energy trying to spawn.

All their calories and growth are devoted to the length and girth that produces a thrilling bend in fishing rods.

The triploid females are produced in a several-stage process beginning with genetically altered male rainbows. Those fish, when mated, produce only female trout.

When the resulting females are sexually mature, they are stripped of their eggs, which are then subjected to pressure or immersed in hot water. Instead of being diploid – having two sets of chromosomes – the heat-shocked eggs become triploid. The resulting fish are sterile.

They are similar to native trout in shape and form, but not in weight.

So why do they compete in the same category for Washington state records?

Money.

“It’s not the best situation, but there’s no easy field test to determine if a trout is triploid or diploid,” said Jim Byrd, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife keeper of fishing records

“It would be an expensive process to run a DNA analysis on state record candidates.”

Another reader named Chris wrote a thoughtful note lamenting that anglers had sunk to the level of accepting genetically altered fish.

“The stories of monster sterile trout seem sad to me,” he said. “Maybe it’s because they become grotesque – sort of like geese force-fed to swell their livers for pate – too fat for their short bodies, squirting grease when cooked. Maybe because it seems such a dishonor for a once-wild creature now bred for pen-rearing, and then a few lucky fishermen.

“Maybe there isn’t much difference now between them and other animals domesticated for us to eat.

“Maybe it’s because I grew up in Seattle surrounded by the lore and heroics of wild salmon.

“I’m not a vegetarian or animal-rights activist, just someone reflecting sadly on man’s relationship to (formerly) wild things and nature.”

I agree with Chris’s sentiments to some extent, but I’m not losing sleep over triploids.

If trout are going to be whacked for the record book, let them be hatchery triploids. Hooking wild fish, regardless of size, is a reward in itself and the last step before the ultimate pleasure of releasing it back into the water.

If an angler of any age gets some boyish glee from hooking a huge triploid trout in Lake Rufus Woods, more Powerbait too him.

Split shot: Two newspaper classified ads caught the attention, if not the hearts, of area anglers.

Under Boats and Motors: “Divorce Forces Sale, 1996 Nitro Bass Boat, loaded. $15,000.”

Then, under Campers/ Canopies: “Divorce Forces Sale, 2002 Citation 9 ½ foot camper, loaded. $15,500.”

“If the ex had any heart at all, she have drowned him rather than force him to sell his bass boat,” a friend said.

We’re wondering if the boat was the problem or the solution.

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