New WDFW Commissioners appointed
Governor Jay Inslee has appointed two new Fish and Wildlife Commissioners to replace outgoing commissioners Don McIsaac and Kim Thorburn. The outgoing commissioners were known to be supportive of hunting and the North American model of Conservation.
There was concern Governor Inslee was going to continue a trend of appointing commissioners who were not supportive of hunting or recreational fishing opportunities. Recent appointees torpedoed a long standing spring bear hunting season in our state despite the recommendation from WDFW staff that it go forward. Recently appointed commissioners have also made questionable statements and decisions about the Blue Mountain elk herd, which has been decimated by cougar predation.
Fortunately, the two new appointees to the commission have a solid background when it comes to sound fish and wildlife management. One of the appointees is Steve Parker. He resides in Yakima County and spent 45 years working as a fisheries biologist for the Yakama Nation.
The other appointee is Woodrow “Woody” Myers, Jr. He lives in Spokane County and worked for 40 years as an ungulate research biologist for WDFW. Like Parker, he is now a retired biologist.
Pro hunting and fishing groups such as Backcountry Hunters and Anglers as well as Washingtonians for Wildlife Conservation both expressed support for the appointments of Parker and Myers to the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission.
Early season trout openers
Several lakes around Quincy, George and Pomeroy opened up for trout fishing on March 1st but some of these lakes were partially or completely covered by ice on opening day.
Mike Schmuck is a WDFW Fisheries Biologist in Ephrata. He visited the Quincy Lakes on the opener and reported Burke Lake had some open water for fishing near the boat ramp. There was one boat in the open water and 25 shore anglers when he was there around 11 a.m. Schmuck said quite a few trout were caught from shore and anglers averaged 2 ½ fish per angler. As for the size of the trout, Schmuck said catches ranged from 10 to 12-inch yearling fish as well as carryovers and even a couple of 21 to 22-inch trout.
Schmuck said Quincy Lake was completely frozen over. A few anglers were ice fishing but were not catching many fish. Heading south towards George, Schmuck said Caliche Lake near George was frozen but 17 anglers were fishing Martha Lake which was partially ice-free. Schmuck said the fishing was slow at Martha Lake but the trout caught were good sized, averaging 16 inches.
Other March 1 opening lakes included Lenice Lake east of Beverly which was ice free. Fly fishing anglers were catching good numbers of trout there averaging 14 inches. Meanwhile, Lake Lenore north of Soap Lake was partially unfrozen. Schmuck said one angler fishing out of a small boat marked a lot of fish but only caught (and released) three Lahontan cutthroat trout.
Heading to the Tucannon Lakes in Southeast Washington, Paul Anderson at the Last Resort near Pomeroy said that in addition to the catchable rainbow trout normally planted, jumbo size trout were stocked as well in Watson (100), Rainbow (150), Spring (100) and Blue Lake (150). Anderson said that Spring and Blue Lake were ice free for the March 1 opener. Rainbow Lake had a small amount of fishable open water available and Watson Lake was still frozen over. Anglers who stopped by or stayed at the resort reported having good success on opening day. Anderson said they do have vacancies available through the month of March. You can look into booking a stay at www.thelastresortrv.com.
Northern Pike netting schedule
Staci Lehman with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife reports, “Northern Pike suppression efforts in Long Lake (Lake Spokane), the Pend Oreille River, and Lake Roosevelt will kick off soon. This work generally takes place between March and June of each year when Northern Pike are staging to spawn.
WDFW will begin removals of Northern Pike at Lake Spokane in March, primarily in the upper half of the reservoir between the McLellan Conservation Area and Nine Mile Recreation Area. Efforts will shift to Lake Roosevelt in April as water temperatures increase. WDFW partners with the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation and the Spokane Tribe of Indians on Lake Roosevelt and with the Kalispel Tribe on the Pend Oreille River to net and remove invasive Northern Pike.“
Lehman continues saying, “The Northern Pike is an apex predator with prolific spawning potential and a voracious appetite for fish, particularly soft rayed fish like trout and salmon. When introduced outside of their native range, they are capable of causing large-scale changes to fish communities, in some cases leading to elimination of entire species.
Efforts are focused on reducing impacts of invasive Northern Pike to resident fish populations and limiting the potential for downstream distribution into the anadromous zone of the Columbia River. Establishment of Northern Pike in the anadromous zone would put at risk the billions of dollars invested into the recovery of salmon and steelhead populations. More information on Northern Pike and reports on suppression efforts implemented since 2013 can be found on the WDFW website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/publications/02382.”
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