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Tucannon Lakes Fishery Monitoring Report for 2003

Category: Fish/Shellfish Research and Management

Date Published: December 2010

Number of Pages: 57

Author(s): Glen Mendel and Jeremy Trump


In 2003, WDFW conducted trout fishery monitoring on four of the eight Tucannon Lakes to evaluate fishery statistics (e.g. angler effort, catch rates, exploitation rates, and numbers of trout harvested and released), compare results between 2003 and 1985 surveys, and estimate economic return on investment for the fishery. Angler residence locations were also documented.

Sampling to determine angler effort was based on stratified random sampling every week on each of the four lakes. We sampled one weekend day and one or two weekdays per week. Angler counts at each lake were conducted multiple times per day at predetermined intervals, after a random start time was determined. Anglers were interviewed between count periods to determine their catch and harvest rates, to examine their catch, and to determine their origin (place or residence).

This study provided valuable information regarding the trout fisheries in the Tucannon Lakes in 2003. Angler effort on four of the Tucannon Lakes was estimated to be 38,116 angler hours and 19,749 angler days (with a completed angler day averaging 1.9 hrs). This partial fishing season estimate of angler days on only four of the Tucannon Lakes exceeded 29% of the LSRCP mitigation goal of 67,500 angler days for all of southeast Washington. An estimated 27,436 rainbow trout were harvested during the first 4.5 months of the fishing season (March 1 to mid- July). Approximately 58-78% of hatchery trout were removed from the lakes by anglers, excluding hooking mortalities for released fish. Jumbo trout were retained in the fishery at a higher rate than catchable-sized trout. Most anglers (79-82%) used bait when fishing the Tucannon Lakes. Anglers were generally satisfied with the numbers and quality of trout they caught, but satisfaction levels decreased temporarily in April as the catch rate and size of available hatchery trout decreased. Anglers in March were mostly from relatively nearby areas of southeast Washington, but later in the season a portion of anglers were from very distant areas. The Tri-cities area was the source of the largest percentage (>50%) of anglers using the Tucannon Lakes, but some anglers from distant states also fished these lakes.

Estimated angling expenditures for fishing at these four lakes were $780,895 (derived from economic expenditures per day in put-and-take trout lakes in nearby areas of northern Idaho). Cost to produce the trout in the four surveyed Tucannon Lakes was $88,088 in 2003. Therefore, the estimated economic return on investment ratio was 8.9/1. The Tucannon Lakes are in need of maintenance (dredging and levee maintenance) soon to maintain these trout fisheries.

We recommend that fisheries at Bennington Lake be the next southeast Washington Lake to be surveyed in the near future.