SPOKANE -- Just two of the seven Tucannon River man-made lakes in
southeast Washington will be stocked with hatchery rainbow trout for the March 1
opening fishing season.
But the season probably will be extended through October, to help make up for
the lack of fishing at the other five lakes. The lakes normally close at the end of July.
Spring and Rainbow lakes, the lower two of the seven impoundments along the
river in Columbia County, will be stocked with a total of 70,000 catchable-size rainbows
from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) Tucannon Fish
Hatchery. The other five lakes Deer, Watson, Beaver, Big Four, and Blue cannot
be stocked with fish because they have intake, access or sediment problems, some of
which were caused or worsened by recent flooding. Work to correct those problems will
start this spring, but not in time to allow fish stocking.
The man-made lakes traditionally have been open for fishing March 1 through
July 31. Last year, when February flooding delayed fish stocking, the Washington Fish
and Wildlife Commission took emergency action to extend the season through October
31. This year WDFW biologists proposed that extension be made permanent. The
commission still must approve the proposal.
The season extension is partly to make up for the limited fish stocking in the
lakes, but also because fewer fish have been stocked in the Tucannon River system in
recent years. The Tucannon River drainage is home to endangered chinook salmon
which biologists believe could be harmed by fishing for hatchery-stocked rainbow trout
and competition for the same habitat. Fewer hatchery trout are stocked in the river, so
more of them will go into the man-made lakes throughout a longer season.