Tag Archives: Lake Rufus Woods

Chinook Released Into Lake Roosevelt

Another week, another 30 Chinook swimming where ocean-returning salmon haven’t been in the Upper Columbia for decades and decades.

A tribal newspaper based in North-central Washington reports that the Colville Tribes’ latest release occurred near Keller, above Grand Coulee Dam, which blocked anadromous fish runs 80 years ago.

GRAND COULEE DAM AND LAKE ROOSEVELT. (BUREAU OF RECLAMATION)

It’s a ceremonial move, one that’s “very sacred to us, very important,” Business Chairman Rodney Cawston said, according to the Tribal Tribune.

“We have strong prayers today, because our ancestors, our elders at the Ceremony of Tears, they had strong prayers that one day we would see these fish return back to the river, back to our people,” he said.

The summer kings were surplus to spawning needs at Wells Hatchery. Just as the 30 the tribes put into Lake Rufus Woods recently, they were screened beforehand by WDFW for an infectious fish virus before the release.

The paper reports that 30 more acoustically tagged Chinook were also let go in Rufus as an experiment, with another batch slated to go into dam-blocked Upper Columbia waters next week.

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Rainbows And More To Catch On Eastside Trout Opener, Y-R Lakes

Washington’s big late April trout opener is just eight sleeps away and Westside lakes are sure to be packed.

While there may be fewer lowland lakes in Eastern Washington, it’s just as big doin’s as west of the crest, and not just for rainbows.

We checked in with a pair of state fisheries biologists to get their thoughts on how this year’s season will go in two of the best regions on the Eastside.

PHIL REICH HOLDS A NICE RAINBOW HE CAUGHT AT AN EASTERN WASHINGTON LAKE A COUPLE SPRINGS AGO. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

PERHAPS SOME OF THE BEST PROSPECTS can be found in Spokane-based biologist Randy Osborne’s district.

“I would guess that Badger is going to be one of the better trout lakes this spring,” he said about the upper Channeled Scablands lake which was rehabbed in 2015 and then restocked with a very heavy hand. “There’s a lot of fish there to be caught.”

“Williams Lake should fish good as well,” he adds. “West Medical – we killed that after last fall, but it will be stocked with a healthy dose of catchables and broodstock fish to get it going.”

Yellow perch are starting to cut into the productivity at Fish Lake near Cheney, but it still should fish “OK” this season, forecasts Osborne.

He also expects Clear Lake near Medical Lake to be consistent.

Osborne also has two year-round options: Lake Spokane/Long Lake, which has been producing good trout fishing this past winter and last year.

It also has walleye, and he encourages anglers to target them. “We’ve sampled some to 10 pounds.”

And Pacific Lake, north of Odessa, for rainbows.

“I went out there last year and it was crazy good,” says Osborne. “I was just sampling with rod and reel and in two hours caught 36 fish. They ranged from 14 to 17 inches. When the ice gets off, it should be good.”

A WILLIAMS LAKE ANGLER SHOWS OFF A WDFW STATEWIDE TROUT DERBY-TAGGED RAINBOW, CAUGHT ON LAST YEAR’S OPENER AT THE SPOKANE-AREA WATER. (WDFW)

YES, RAINBOWS GET A LOT OF ATTENTION, but they’re far from being the only fish to catch in spring, especially in the Okanogan.

That’s where Ryan Fortier is based, and he gave us his best bets for this season.

“Kokanee fishing has been gaining in popularity, with Alta and Conconully Lake being the two most popular and consistent fisheries,” the WDFW District 6 fisheries biologist says.

“The Alta pressure is getting a bit heavy, but Conconully can handle the larger crowds well. Patterson Lake near Winthrop has a good age-class coming up this year compared to the last five years. The other stocked lakes are Bonaparte, Spectacle and Conconully Reservoir. Palmer is not expected to have a fishery for another two more years.”

On the spinyray front, there are plenty of options too.

“Palmer, Leader, and Washburn Island Pond have been the most popular fisheries,” says Fortier. “There are lots of campers staying at the DNR campgrounds at Palmer and Leader who fish and swim on the lakes. Washburn Island was stocked with some largemouth two years ago and has produced some good sizes.”

But if your sights are set on trout, he has options for those too. He expected Pearrygin, Alta and the Conconullies to produce as usual at the opener last month, and that is likely to continue into May.

“Wannacut near Tonasket has produced the largest fish on average over the previous two summers,” he says.

Unfortunately, Fish Lake, not too far to the south, is “in need of a rehab” to get rid of overabundant bullheads, Fortier says.

It sounds like he expects quality trout waters like Aeneas, Blue, Chopaka and Davis to continue as they have, but there are two other lakes to start plugging into your radar.

“Buzzard (Loup Loup Pass) has been growing in popularity, and Campbell (Winthrop) has received low pressure despite better than usual sizes since the 2014 fires,” he hints.

Speaking of fires, Black Pine Lake high in the mountains west of Carlton was closed much of last summer due to wildfire activity, so it “should probably have some good carryovers for cutthroat when the snow clears in late May,” Fortier says.

And if you’re looking for something a little exotic that affords a chance to break a state record, you could do worse than Bonaparte Lake and its brook-brown hybrids.

SPRING IS ONE OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL TIMES TO CHECK OUT THE HIGHLAND LAKES OF EASTERN WASHINGTON. HERE’S THE VIEW DOWN ONTO BONAPARTE LAKE, WHERE THE SIZE OF TIGER TROUT BORDERS ON BEING “TALL TALES,” ACCORDING TO THE DISTRICT FISHERIES BIOLOGIST. THE STATE RECORD 18.49-POUND HYBRID CAME FROM HERE IN MAY 2015. (USFS)

“The tiger trout sizes reported in the lake have been bordering on tall tales,” says Fortier. “We will try to do a more intense survey this year to get an idea of what has changed and if the rumors are true.”

And don’t forget Lake Rufus Woods! It will be stocked with 22,000 2-plus-pound triploid trout between March and June, according to tribal managers’ plans.

Female Pike Caught 10 Miles Of Grand Coulee Dam

A 6.2-pound female northern pike that could have spawned next spring was instead fortuitously netted about 10 miles of Grand Coulee Dam in what’s believed to be the furthest downreservoir capture of the invasive nonnative predator fish so far on Lake Roosevelt.

THE COLVILLE TRIBES CAUGHT THIS 6.2-POUND, 30-INCH FEMALE NORTHERN PIKE NEAR GRAND COULEE DAM EARLIER THIS MONTH. (COLVILLE TRIBES)

It and a 27.5-pounder caught near the head of Roosevelt’s Spokane Arm mark temporary victories in the fight to keep the species out of the Columbia River’s anadromous zone.

The two pike were captured by the Colville and Spokane Tribes, respectively, during recent surveys throughout the reservoir and were first reported by KING 5 in a segment that aired last night.

The worry is that the fish will eventually get below Lake Rufus Woods and Chief Joseph Dam, which marks as far upstream as salmon and steelhead can travel on the Columbia, and wreak havoc on ESA-listed Chinook and steelhead at the mouth of the Okanogan River and below.

Tens of millions of dollars have been invested in recovering those stocks and others in the Inland Northwest.

Unfortunately, pike are moving that way as inexorably as water flows downhill.

They were likely moved illicitly by bucket biologists from Idaho’s Lake Couer d’Alene drainage into Washington’s Pend Oreille River, and from there were flushed downstream into the Columbia during high spring runoff.

The species established itself near the mouths of the Kettle and Colville Rivers on Roosevelt, but has been dropping further and further downlake,

They may even already be in Rufus Woods, if anecdotal angler reports are any indication. State fishery biologists are worried about that possibility.

WDFW and the tribes have been working hard for several years to reduce pike numbers, eradicating as many as possible through gillnetting.

The Colvilles are also in the second year of a program that offers anglers $10 a head for any northerns they turn in.

While meant to help protect Lake Roosevelt’s rainbow trout, kokanee and other fish populations, a poster says that any pike caught downstream in Rufus Woods and even the Wells Pool can also be submitted for cash.

The program was the inspiration behind Northwest Sportsman‘s offer of $50 for any caught in Lake Washington, where two have shown up since January 2017.