Spirit Lake at Mt. St. Helens


Active Member
In a article in thursdays Columbian newspaer, a state fish biologist suggest opening fishing at Spirit Lake. "It's my personal hope that some public fishing access be provided" biologist John Weinheimer told a conservation group this month. The article stated the average, I said AVERAGE, size for the rainbows in the lake was 22" and 4.7 pounds! The Forest Service does not want any public fishing in the lake. Maybe if enough people called the USFS and supported opening the lake back up to some kind of limited public fishing, there minds could be changed.

Old Man

Just an Old Man
What do I know---I'm just an old man

Isn't it funny what mother nature can do. They said all the fish got killed off when Mt St helens did it's thing. Got cooked in all the hot water they said. Maybe you find old Harry Truman up there too.
While I would love to fish Spirit Lake myself everytime I stop by to look at it, I want to fish there. That being said they are using the area as a test site for recovery. Currently there is only one way down to the lake legally which is the Harmony Falls trail. While the fish that are there are large all test show they are just starting to build in numbers and they want to protect the fish to see how well fish can recover without being bothered for a long period of time. They are also using the shore area to see what happens without the hand of man getting involved. From what I am told one of the reasons for the leaving the fish to themselves to recover is to see how well they can recover without man stocking the lake with fish and with the fish mortality by man being kept to 0%. That is not possible even in catch and release lakes we all know because if nothing else it opens up the door for poachers to sneak in amd lets be honest even catching and releasing fish can cause a few to die even if total care is taken, if enough people are fishing there. The information gained from this research may help with salmon and other fish recovery in other areas. So I say even though I would be first in line to fish there if it did open up, I still would rather see them continue to do their research for a while longer and I will continue to fish Coldwater, Merrill, and Bumping lake for now. We did not lose a lake to fish due to Coldwater being created which I feel is a better lake to fish then Spirit lake used to be. If we are going to fight to open up closed areas for catch and release fishing lets put our effort into someplace where research is not going on like Cedar River.


Active Member
hikepat, The WDFW Biologist that suggested opening the lake back up to the public is the only one doing research on fish recovery in the lake. The population in the lake at present is incredible. As with any new lake there is a huge nutrient base. The lake only has a few years left at this level and then things will even out. I think allowing anglers to experience this type of world class fishing in one of the most incredible natural settings, would do nothing but help protect the fish and the land. There are ways to allow access and protect the land. Have only one access point in and out of the lake. Allow only a certain number of anglers per day. I believe every one should have an opportunity to experience this lake. It will make people take ownership of the land and make sure its protected.
I think they should keep people away from the lake so that it (and some terrestrial areas) can be studied and learned from.

The eruption was a rare opportunity to really study and understand how nature revitalizes itself after a natural "disaster".

I know a couple of people who hiked to the lake last year and saw some kid peeing into the lake. Opening this up to humans can only interrupt the natural cycle of life that is taking place.

Geez, don't we have enough water and wildlife to pillage already?

Let 'em go!
My question is what real importance is there in "studying" the ecological recovery of a natural disaster that would be probable to reoccur at a likelihood of .00001%? The west coast is the only area of the U.S. that would ever see another event like Mt. St. Helens and the historical spans of time between major eruptions is so great what do the scientists even think they can apply from this snapshot in time? I don't dispute that there is a lot that can be learned through study there, I just think that the ability to apply anything is so remote, why would they bother? Could be that the scientists equate this to a nuclear attack or something but you would be dealing with an entirely different condition, radiation poisoning so it doesn't compute to me. Govt. must have enough extra money to be able to perform these studies but I would like to know where they think it applies? Maybe the "rim of fire" is potentially more lethal than we've been told? Am I off base or do others also wonder why there is so much scientific interest in something that would probably never be useful other than to document the recovery?


Ignored Member
Perhaps we can look at the destruction of some NW river systems by logging, farming, and development as a natural disaster. I mean we, as human beings, are a natural occurrence here. Maybe some of the destruction caused the eruption of St. Helens parallels some of the destruction caused by us and hence the recovery might also parallel that at Spirit Lake or the Toutle River. :DUNNO


New Member
Research is how they justify their salaries. I worked at a nationally funded research laboratory for 7 years and I'm here to tell ya every stereotype you've ever heard about scientists is true...having said that, I apologize to any scientist type who takes offense, but there probably aren't any reading this board...which is my point. This is the scenario, there is a natural disaster, someone identifies a peculiarity that is not well understood (if understood at all) regarding same disaster, they write a research proposal, submit same to whoever, researcher gets a grant (which includes funds for salary, travel, lodging, camping gear, etc.), performs the research, draws some conclusions (right or wrong), and publishes the paper. The research scientist, especially the researcher employed by academia, is peer evaluated by the nature and quality of his/her research but mostly by the research denaros/greenbacks/buckaroos they can pull into the university. So finding some querk of nature to study is what it’s all about. It's my experience, in the end, it's all about money.... I'm not saying the world hasn't progressed in a positive way from the efforts of Newton, Bitter, Fleming, Lavoisieur, Pasteur, etc. I recognize how easy my life is compared to the life of say the pioneers, traveling in wagons to reach the west. But the research INDUSTRY is a big money making machine in my view and studying this lake to death regarding how it recovers from a once in a million year natural disaster is a waste of our money and a crying shame that the public isn't allowed access. There's a saying when someone does something really well... "He's got that down to a science". That's akin to an oxymoron. Scientist study what they can't control, what they don't understand, what was unexpected. There may be value derived from studying that lake and it's inhabitants. I suppose we will never learn that unless, we let the scientists study it. My 2 cents. :COOK


Active Member
The purpose of the original post was not about the merits are lack there of, in studying and doing reasearch on this volcanic landscape. There is no doubt Mt. St. Helens should be protected. I spend a lot of my time fishing and hiking in the monument. I think anyone who has spent time fishing or hiking in the area can tell you what a special place it is. There is something almost magical about the lakes and surrounding environment. And being able to fish and be part of that environment is amazing. With that said, the only research taking place on fish at Spirit Lake is one or two lake surveys a year by WDFW staff. The surveys consist of taking DNA samples to determine the origin of the fish, which at present, the most plausible cause is the fish were stocked illegally after the eruption. The other parts of the survey includes taking scale samples to determine an age class for the fish and walking the small tribs looking for spawners. There is not any major study taking place on fish in the lake. And finally, I do not think allowing a few owners of the land, that being you and me, to fish Spirit Lake is going to drastically change Spirit Lake. Hundreds of thousands of people drive their cars to within a few miles of Spirit Lake every year to wintness the power and rebirth of mother nature. Allowing a few anglers a year to hike in and experience Spirit Lake is a good thing in my mind.


New Member
Paul, I support your position 110%! It's an especially interesting discussion after learning the fish where most probably introduced clandestinely... bravo zulu and many kudos to who ever did that!

So what is the F&G Dept. studying? Give it a rest. But this kind of goes back to my previous post...some scientist type convinced somebody something needed to be studied and that involved shutting down the fishery... somebody got a grant, is taking data, and will publish a freaking paper that says "YES, holy cow, fish will survive, grow, and even spawn when introduced into a suitable environment."

Go figure........... :AA