Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Tale of the Tagged Trout...

Last Sunday to beat the winter blues, we hit the Spokane River  for a couple hours. 

What we got was one hell of a fish tale.

In the last run of the day, the indicator slammed down and I was fast connected with a fish.  Typical winter rainbow fight in cold water and to hand came a beautiful redband rainbow native to the Spoke.

Just behind the dorsal fin, this fish had a little jewelry

Since 2007 in different sections throughout the river, different factions of Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Avista Utilities and The Bonneville Power Administration have conducted population assessments on Spokane River Trout.

On this particular trout, I rubbed off the grime off the tag, found the number 1023 and called the Spokane office of the WDFW. 

A few days later,  Chuck Lee the fishery biologist from the Department of Fish and Wildlife informed me a little more on this fish's life as well as their system of population surveys.

This particular pescado was previously found by Chuck within 300 yards of where I found him.  At the time, it was 14 inches and approximately a pound and a half.   Since that day, my guess is that the fish was somewhere between 15 or 16 inches and close to 2 pounds.  

Some of the other findings that I found very interesting was that the majority of fish in this section of the river are found continually within 500 meters range of when they were last surveyed. 

In recent years, there are rays of hope for the river.  Escapement from different sections of the river seem to be minimal.  There seems to be a nice level of different age classes and at least in the lower river, good levels of spawning recruitment.

Browns are comprising a very, very small portion of the population in the lower river.

The Upper River from Idaho through the Spokane Valley behaves completely different from the Lower River West of downtown.    The middle river through downtown is it's own system as it is bound by different damns and impoundments.  There are threats to the trout population throughout.  From dewatering of spawning gravel to the legacy of hard metal mining poloution to non native fish introduction like Smallmouth bass, the trout are a tough bunch and we need to know more how to help them.

That's what Chuck and his team are dedicated to.
Hopefully the 10 year period of population assessment on the entire river will give us a better picture on the native Redbands in the Spokane.   Given more opportunities to thrive through understanding, better flows, stream-side restoration and cleanup, these fish should have a fighting chance.

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