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Bedivere
Why Do Witches Burn?



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PostSat Aug 31, 2019 12:26 am 
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The high lakes trout-stocking program peaked from a fish stocking perspective in the 1960s to the early 1990s. Due to budget cuts and an increased awareness of the ecological impacts of stocking trout in high lakes, the program was re-evaluated and reduced in scope to its current level. Stocking still occurs in hundreds of high lakes statewide. But fisheries managers consider the timing, number and species of fish stocked to ensure conservation of high lakes aquatic communities while providing quality recreational opportunity.

...

The lakes are stocked every two to five years, but some are stocked only once a decade. The interval between trout stocking varies by lake based on fishing pressure, lake productivity and the species of fish for which a lake is managed. Rotational stocking is done to maintain trout populations at a low density, single age-class structure.

This quote is taken from the WDFW High Lakes fishing web pages, specifically here:

https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/locations/high-lakes#

I have noticed that in the last couple of years a significant amount of information has disappeared from the WDFW high lakes web pages about stocking.

I have also noticed that a considerable number of lakes that were stocked in the past no longer show up in their search engine.  One lake that I can specifically call out is Circle Lake, up by Mt. Daniel.  Last time I looked it up a couple years ago it not only was listed but showed the intervals, numbers, and species of fished stocked all the way back to the early 1980s.  Now it simply doesn't show up in a search.  It always had good fishing and contained some fairly sizable fish at times up through the mid 2000s.  However, the last two times I've been there I haven't had much luck and got completely blanked the last time (last summer) and didn't even see any sign of fish.  This makes me think they've decided to stop stocking it which is surprising considering the use it sees these days.

Other lakes in the same area that have had excellent fishing in the past have now disappeared from the search results.

Finally, some lakes that still show up in the search results that were stocked every 5-7 years now show that they were last stocked OVER ten years ago.  Given that the average life expectancy of a trout is 9-11 years, those lakes are overdue.

Have they really cut back fish stocking that much?  If so, how much of this is really due to budget cuts and how much is actually this new concern for aquatic invertebrate populations?

High lakes fishing is something I've really enjoyed in the past and it used to be that you could catch fish just about anywhere in the Cascades.  If it's getting restricted to a much smaller subset of lakes now that will be a real bummer.  I don't explore like I used to, but it sure used to be fun to lash a pole to the pack and set out to explore a new area with the knowledge that you were likely to find a fish.

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Mountainfisherman
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PostSat Aug 31, 2019 5:39 am 
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Speaking for only the area I fish in and have considerable knowledge of-Yakima County mostly in Region 3 there have been no cutbacks. If the Naches Hatchery is closed which has been threatened in the past two budget cycles, it would definitely impact high lakes fishing in the Region, there is simply no plan to replace the fish that are raised there and stocked in high lakes. WDFW maintenance of the high lakes website is subject to their budget follies. It had been updated early this year, but since then stocking info disappeared.
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Brian Curtis
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PostSat Aug 31, 2019 7:26 am 
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No, there have been no recent cutbacks in the high lakes fishery. The WDFW piece you quoted is saying that with increased awareness of high lakes biology WDFW biologists realized that they were stocking lakes too heavily and too frequently. And in many cases they were stocking lakes unnecessarily because fish were reproducing on their own. While the number of fish being stocked has been reduced very significantly since the 60s, the number of lakes with fish has not shrunk much at all (leaving the national parks out of this discussion).

Circle Lake has not been stocked since 1986 because the fish are naturally reproducing there. They aren't overpopulated like other lakes in the area. But conditions can change and sometimes management plans for individual lakes need to change. There are hundreds of high lakes that each WDFW biologist needs to manage and it is impossible for them to visit them. That's why the Hi-Lakers have a survey program. Joining the HLs and participating in the survey program is a great way to help assure WDFW biologists have the information they need to manage high lakes.

I don't know why the stocking information disappeared from WDFW's high lakes website. It looks to me like a technical rather then policy issue. That being said, I've always been concerned that their website would lead to posts just like this one. The stocking records give a very partial snapshot of the high lakes fishery because all of the lakes with naturally reproducing fish are left out. The other problem WDFW has (had) with their website was that they never updated the stocking records. That was probably what lead to you seeing lakes that were normally on a cycle that suddenly showed as not having been stocked.

Concerns around effects of fish in high lakes generally centers around vertebrates, not invertebrates. There can be effects on invertebrates, but without fish the top level predators in high lakes are normally amphibians which can be vulnerable to introduced trout if they are either stocked to0 heavily or are too heavily reproducing. WDFW stocks high lakes with low densities to preserve all the native species in the lake so real concern centers around lakes with over-reproducing populations.

You can absolutely rest assured that when you explore a new area you will be likely to find fish.

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Mountainfisherman
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PostSat Aug 31, 2019 8:49 am 
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Interestingly enough, the stocking info has reappeared on the High Lakes site. Last year info has been entered for is 2017-lakes I stocked last year donít show up, but what you can easily figure out is stocking cycles, type of fish, number planted, etc.
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Downhill
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PostSat Aug 31, 2019 9:17 am 
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Mountainfisherman wrote:
Interestingly enough, the stocking info has reappeared on the High Lakes site. Last year info has been entered for is 2017-lakes I stocked last year donít show up, but what you can easily figure out is stocking cycles, type of fish, number planted, etc.

Mountainfisherman - can you please provide the link to the report you're referring to?  As the OP said, up through last year, I was able to see what seemed like a complete listing of every lake, species, date planted and count dating back at least 10 years.  This year that data is gone from their site and I've been unable to find the complete listing.  Perhaps I'm not looking in the right places, so a link would be very much appreciated - thanks!

Also, I am willing to participate, as a volunteer to stock high lakes.  Is there an organization that I can affiliate with to do this?
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Mountainfisherman
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PostSat Aug 31, 2019 10:09 am 
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The link the OP posted is the link to the High Lakes info.  I got hooked up to stock lakes through a now retired biologist in Region 3.
Hi Lakers and Trail Blazers do a great deal of stocking, Brian would be a good source of how to get involved with those groups.
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Downhill
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PostSat Aug 31, 2019 10:20 am 
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Mountainfisherman wrote:
The link the OP posted is the link to the High Lakes info.  I got hooked up to stock lakes through a now retired biologist in Region 3.
Hi Lakers and Trail Blazers do a great deal of stocking, Brian would be a good source of how to get involved with those groups.

Thank you
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Brian Curtis
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PostSat Aug 31, 2019 11:05 am 
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Downhill wrote:
Also, I am willing to participate, as a volunteer to stock high lakes.† Is there an organization that I can affiliate with to do this?

Trail Blazers are the primary volunteer organization stocking fish for WDFW. If you are in Leavenworth the biggest impediment is probably attending the monthly meetings in Seattle. If you are interested drop me a PM.

The Hi-Lakers survey program I mentioned up thread is another great way to participate in the high lakes fishery without having to attend monthly meetings in Seattle.

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that elitist from silverdale wanted to tell me that all carnes are bad--Studebaker Hoch
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Dave Weyrick
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PostSat Aug 31, 2019 11:20 am 
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Am wondering if stocking info is just arranged differently than it was. If you go to WDFW, then fishing and shell fishing, then places to go, then high lakes, you will be on a page that allows you to search high lakes. You can put in a lake name then hit search all lakes. Or..... You can put in a county from a pull down menu, then hit search all lakes. This many page list shows the high lakes in the county. Select a lake of interest and get to a map and the stocking history. This resource seems to show much of the info the Trail Blazers keep track of on their members only site related to stocking. The catching info is confidential due to sensitivity issues and only available to qualified members of High-Lakers and Trail Blazers on their members only sites. As Brian has said many times over the years, go to a blue dot and see what you find. Chances are a TBer has put fish in and a HLer has taken some out. You can too!

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Brian Curtis
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PostSat Aug 31, 2019 11:38 am 
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Dave Weyrick wrote:
Am wondering if stocking info is just arranged differently than it was.

The site was having a problem and the stocking info wasn't showing at all. It appears to be fixed now, even if it isn't completely up to date.

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that elitist from silverdale wanted to tell me that all carnes are bad--Studebaker Hoch
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Downhill
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PostSat Aug 31, 2019 11:39 am 
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Brian Curtis wrote:
Downhill wrote:
Also, I am willing to participate, as a volunteer to stock high lakes.† Is there an organization that I can affiliate with to do this?

Trail Blazers are the primary volunteer organization stocking fish for WDFW. If you are in Leavenworth the biggest impediment is probably attending the monthly meetings in Seattle. If you are interested drop me a PM.

The Hi-Lakers survey program I mentioned up thread is another great way to participate in the high lakes fishery without having to attend monthly meetings in Seattle.

Thanks Brian.  I'm in Seattle frequently (been here since Monday in fact) so I will try to coordinate a trip with a TB meeting.  I'm PM you later.
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Backpacker Joe
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PostSat Aug 31, 2019 8:24 pm 
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Brian KNOWS what he's talking about.  There probably isn't anyone in the state as knowledgeable as Brian in this area.

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Bedivere
Why Do Witches Burn?



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PostMon Sep 02, 2019 11:17 pm 
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Thanks for chiming in, Brian.

There's definitely been a change in the information available on the WDFW website.  As I mentioned in my previous post, Circle used to be listed.  Now it is not.

Are you SURE that it hasn't been stocked since the '80s?  To the best of my recollection, the last time I saw stocking data it showed plants of Cutthroat in the '90s and even more recently.  Circle was originally planted with Rainbow and I think I may have caught the last Rainbow in the lake the first time we went up there in the mid '90s.  It was an old fish with a hooked nose and we never caught another Rainbow after that.

Also, my experience there back in the early 2000s was that there were a lot of fish of the same size and very few small fish, which is usually the result of plants.

In any case, it's good to hear the number of lakes hasn't been cut back significantly, but it is unfortunate that many lakes aren't listed and that the information isn't up to date.  Some of my favorite lakes don't appear to have been stocked in over 11 years.

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Downhill
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PostMon Sep 02, 2019 11:33 pm 
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Bedivere wrote:
There's definitely been a change in the information available on the WDFW website.† As I mentioned in my previous post, Circle used to be listed.† Now it is not.

Agreed.  Yes, there are stocking reports on the current WDFW site.  But it's nowhere near a complete lising.  A year ago, on thier site there where many more high lakes and many more years included.  The current list is a fraction of what was there previously.
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Brian Curtis
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PostTue Sep 03, 2019 7:05 am 
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I am 100% sure about stocking in Circle Lake. It was last stocked with rainbow in 1949. CT were stocked in 1977 and 1986. Are you positive you aren't thinking of a different lake that listed a bunch of CT plants?

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