Two trout lakes drained for repairs in Stevens County
Sat., Aug. 13, 2016
Water levels at two trout fishing lakes in the Little Pend Oreille National Wildlife Refuge are being lowered for fall construction projects.
McDowell Lake, a fly-fishing only water, and Potter’s Pond southeast of Colville are being drawn down so aging water control structures can be replaced, said Jerry Cline, refuge manager.
“We’ve already started some preliminary work at both sites,” he said, noting that excavation on the dams will begin around Sept. 13.
The drawdown of McDowell Lake has begun with precautions to prevent unwanted introduction of tench or spiny ray fish, he said.
McDowell can’t be completely drained because the water outlet structure elevation is higher than the deepest part of the lake, Cline said.
Some trout are likely go out of the lake with the outflow or die because of the lower water level, said Bill Baker, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife fisheries biologist.
But the number depends on whether water temperatures stay cool enough for the fish to survive in the low pool, he said.
“McDowell Lake has received a relatively light stocking since the 2014 rehab and maintains quite a bit of water even after it’s drawn down as low as it will go,” Baker said.
Catch-and-release fishing will continue to be allowed at McDowell until Sept. 13, “but access is difficult due to the low water level,” Cline said.
“Access to McDowell Lake will be closed for public safety while we’re actively working on the dam,” he said. The project will continue for about two weeks, after which the lake will slowly begin to refill.
“The fishery should recover quickly once the lake is re-filled next spring,” Baker said.
Additional trout are planned for stocking in spring.
Potter’s Pond will be drained beginning around Aug. 22, Cline said.
Workers from the refuge and state Fish and Wildlife Department tentatively plan to recruit volunteers to salvage some of the trout and transfer them to nearby Bayley Lake.
“Potter’s Pond, Bayley Lake and the adjoining campgrounds also will be closed on or around Sept. 13 for public safety while we have heavy equipment in that area,” Cline said. Exact dates haven’t been determined.
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