COLDWATER Lake Report

Discussion in 'Stillwater' started by Woodcanoeguy, Jul 30, 2011.

  1. Matthew Kaphan

    Matthew Kaphan Active Member

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    I'll be at Coldwater tomorrow (Thursday) morning at around 8 AM if anybody wants to do some fishing...

    M
     
  2. Woodcanoeguy

    Woodcanoeguy Member

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    I hooked 18 and landed 12 fish this morning at Coldwater. Two fish broke me off, however I do use light, long leaders. While I lament the loss of the bigger fish of the past..... took three over 15" and the 17 incher I got this morning fought better than the 22 inch triploid I got last year at Merrill. They are really beautiful, spirited fish. Maybe a limited harvest of smaller fish would help though.
     
  3. Gorgefly

    Gorgefly Member

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    There are plenty of other lakes to fish for stockers in that also have the big nasty brooders in them as well. This is a unique and beautiful lake and it would be a shame to see anything stocked here at all. This lake is much more about the experience and quality of fish than the size. SIZE DOESN'T ALWAYS MATTER. I had a blast catching wild cutties yesterday in a lake that is still surrounded by several feet of snow, several miles from ther nearest dirt road and probably hasn't seen another person since last summer. The biggest was probably 9 inches. Great day!
     
  4. Strike Zone

    Strike Zone Member

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    You're all entitled to your own opinions. That's what makes this country great. And I happen to enjoy catching wild fish that are large-not brooders that hatcheries release into lakes- . And if it means increasing the limits on the smaller fish to increase fish size because of the limited food supply then so be it. Or whatever else that might be necessary to return the lake to it's glory years. Small fish are ok, but if you have watched a lake go from having a large majority of 18-19 inch fish down to an average 11-14 fish avereage there is something wrong here. Something is causing that. And the problem is that the food supply can only support so many pounds of fish, and the number of fish has gotten to the point that they are all getting stunted. MY OPINION
     
  5. Salmo_g

    Salmo_g Active Member

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    There is no "right" or "wrong" size of the fish in Coldwater. It's been about managing a wild trout fishery, and we don't have many of those in lakes. If the trout population is increasing, resulting in a smaller average size, then adjusting the catch limit to remove more smaller - pre-spawner - fish should move the population size upward, if that is part of the fish management goal. If a few anglers, or better yet, organized fishing clubs, make that suggestion to WDFW during a regulation setting year (this year, I think) then they'll probably make the regulation change if it's biologically and socially justified. That's way better than rotenone or stocking triploids.

    Sg
     
  6. cabezon

    cabezon Sculpin Enterprises

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    One wonders if the decline is big fish is directly related to its harvest situation. At present, one can keep one fish over 16". That has got to crop the top of the size distribution; perhaps the abundance of larger fish previously were the product of the years when the lake was closed entirely. The fish that I have caught there have been healthy, frisky and show no evidence of a lack of food or stunting; I read a report last year on another board of a fisher and his wife who had a fabulous day with a truly trophy fish (picture only). One needs age / weight studies as one strategy to investigate potential stunting. Actively managing a fishery based on anecdotes is not a wise policy IMO.

    Steve
     
  7. Strike Zone

    Strike Zone Member

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    Cabezon;
    Hello, Thanks for your input. I value all opinions. All I'm saying is that my experience of being able to catch alot of 18-19 inch trout back when they opened it and a few years after that isn't happening anymore. It has definately been on the decline in the last few years. And I'm not the only one who has noticed this. I feel I have the lake pretty well figured out as far as being able to catch fish is concerned. I'm not saying the report you read was misleading at all. I do think tho that a a trophy fish to some is a normal size fish to others. I'm not saying that there isn't a very few large fish left in the lake. That might be the case. But in my many years of fishing it, the size of trout has definately gotten alot smaller. Sure, the ones you catch are all frisky, healthy, pretty much wild. etc. but they mostly are all alot smaller than they used to be. And as one who's fishes it quite regularly over the years, I'd love to see the fish size get back to the way it was a few years back. As I said before, the food supply will only support so many pounds of fish. And the number of smaller ones has gotten way out of balance so that the fish can't get enough food to get large like they once did. If they increased the limit on the smaller fish then there would be fewer fish in the lake which would allow those that remain to have more food avalible and thus get larger. I am going to try to get ahold of the fish/wildlife dept. and give them my two cents worth and see if I can at least get the catch size/limit changed to taking more little ones out of the lake. In my opinion this will help some.
     
  8. Drifter

    Drifter Active Member

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    I have been a part of regulation changes on a local river before . first thing is you need support , signatures , emails . these can come from anywhere . beings it has a native population trout unlimited members could be notified and send emails , along with fly fishing clubs in state and out of state . one person just calling DFW i'm sorry to say wont do much . also you need to know who will be against you at the rules meeting - and yes there might be groups against you and knowing in advance how much support they have can help to see what work needs to be done . like mentioned a club helps out big time because of member numbers .

    My experiance was with changing a regulation to be able to fish out of a boat in oxbo park on the sandy river . we had some 30 people their and many signatures and sandy river chapter of steelheaders behind us . the only people to oppose us was the people that ran the park (metro) but they had signatures and emails from all over california and other states including oregon so they won the first time . back then the rule change year was every 2 years and we won the second time we took it to ODFW .

    Lets face it there are many people who could care less about conserving trout , they see them as a kill and eat and nothing else . our state (oregon) went to every 4 years to be able to change regulations on fishing and the state meeting is next feb. or so , and we have a group trying to stop the killing of native crane prairie rainbows , even when the brood stock rainbows go to 15 pounds there will be plenty of people fighting this . these fish are even the famous redside rainbows of the deschutes river that are very well protected in the river but people just don't give a shit about lake trout , even when their are at least 10 other lakes withing say 30 miles to kill and keep - I know it will be a battle because of the fisherman that for 50 years have used dragon fly nymphs as bait . no one wants to lose that because it works so well to fill there coolers with bland tasting meat .

    I guess what i'm trying to say is do your home work and a lot of it !
     
  9. chief

    chief Active Member

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    Found on the internets:

    "New reservoirs are much more productive than old ones. The recent flooding of standing vegetation causes its organic decay to be released into the food chain. This enhanced situation provides a temporary boomtown for aquatic weeds, insects, and fish. After a few years this organic matter is used up and the reservoir loses much of its food chain causing the fishery’s decline. Hence, new reservoirs are hot spots which inevitably fade."

    Maybe what we're seeing in Coldwater is part of a natural cycle. Yes the fish tend to run smaller than they used to, but I'm still pretty happy with the total quality experience Coldwater provides. Wild fish, wild scenery, minimal crowds...... I don't think calling in Dr. Frankenstein is necessary. Let it be.
     
  10. Strike Zone

    Strike Zone Member

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    fish central- Thank you for your advise and comments. They are much appreciated. I wish you the best on your efforts at Craine Prarrie.

    chief- I can see you are fine with catching small fish at Coldwater. I'm happy for you, and I wish you the best.
    As for me, I also enjoy the wild scenery and minimal crowds up there, but I have a hard time accepting the way Coldwater Lake, Spirit Lake, Castle Lake, and a few others are going since this is the area I fish in mostly.
    I know there are exceptions, but there also has been some success stories of lakes going down the same road as Coldwater that have been rehabed and managed differently for trophy sized trout instead of the way they are doing now.
    And as far as telling me to "let it be" is like the south telling the north to "let things be" with their slavery ideas weather it was right or wrong. Sort of get my feathers ruffeled if you get my drift.
    Also, I think it isn't right to call those making the laws "Frankensteins" or anything else. It is totally disrespectful to call anyone names and it dosen't solve anything. It only makes things worse.
     
  11. chief

    chief Active Member

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    Strike Zone - None of my comments were directed at you personally. This is a public forum and I, like you, am entitled to express my opinion. If I wanted to address you specifically I would have done that (as I am doing now). Also, my reference to "not calling in Dr Frankenstein" was a metaphor for not planting genetically engineered triploid trout in a lake with natural reproducing wild fish. Sorry you took it as name calling.

    My main point was that Coldwater has gone through the "new reservoir" cycle, and is returning to a natural state where it is similar to most other Westside lakes, meaning it has minimal bio mass. The big fish aren't as plentiful as they used to be because there isn't enough food to sustain them. I have always thought that a regulation change might help eliminate some of the smaller fish and protect the larger fish, but when I contacted the biologist in charge of the lake about implementing a slot limit a few years ago, he informed me that the 13-14" fish were sexually mature and responsible for the majority of the recruitment. I'm still not convinced that allowing the take of the largest fish in the lake is the best regulation, but the rule is in alignment with WDFW's plan for the lake. Maintaining a trophy fishery in a mature Westside lake without an artificial stocking program or lining the shore with feeder machines is not likely or even possible. Even with the stocking of triploids, like in Merrill, the fish lose weight after they enter the lake. Our human manipulation of nature is not always the answer.
     
  12. Caveman

    Caveman Member

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    Most lake in High Country are stocked and very few are wild fish.....
     
  13. Strike Zone

    Strike Zone Member

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    Chief:
    Thank you for the reply. I appologize for my misunderstanding ofwhat you were saying about "Frankenstine" My error for sure.
    Anyway, I'm still not sure about Coldwater as to what can be done if anything to bring about a positive change up there. I'm a little sceptictal about a 13-14 inch trout being a mature fish up there when they used to be so much bigger. You might be right in your thinking that nothing can be done, but I'm having a hard time with that. Especially when other lakes have been changed to bring about a positive increase in the size and quality of fish in them.
    So I guess if I want to catch bigger fish I will have to go to a pay to fish lake or go up to BC to one of their quality lakes. It used to be alot closer to go to Canada when we lived up near Sedro Woolley. But now it is a 10-12 hour drive one way for me to get up there anymore and with gas so costly it makes going north pretty much out of the question.
    Wish you and all the best.
    Tight lines
     
  14. FlyfishDan

    FlyfishDan New Member

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    Wow—a ton of debate about the fish up in this marvelous lake known as Coldwater. Here are the facts about CW:

    - The lake was initially stocked with 30,000 under-yearling rainbow trout in 1989, since then, the population has sustained itself naturally.
    - After a survey was taken in 2001, scientist discovered that both westslope and resident coastal cutthroat were present.
    - It was then determined that the westslope’s were inadvertently mixed with the rainbows delivered from the hatchery in 1989.
    - It was also determined that the resident coastal cutthroat that once thrived in North Coldwater Creek in 1979 must have survived the eruption—a truly amazing thing, if I should say so myself.
    - The fish that now inhabit CW are completely self-sustaining and have been since the initial stocking of 1989.

    I have fished this lake since the first ‘permit-only’ anglers could set foot on its pristine shores--way back when it was necessary to hike all the way down from the then newly opened CW Center and I have been fishing it ever since, every year, and every time of year.

    I have had the recent fortune of assisting WDFW with fish studies and took measurements and samples over a three year period. In my opinion, changing this fishery in any way would be a crime; and I think most fly-fishing purists would agree with me. There are plenty of other places to fish for triploids, browns, tigers, or any other ‘stocked’ fishery (not that there is anything wrong with that--it can be a blast to fish!). There are only a select few places in the world that you can fish for trout in an environment like we find at CW Lake—so let’s keep it that way, because it is truly a rare fishing experience. I don’t know anywhere else you can catch a rainbow trout, a westslope cutthroat (rich color with very few spots), and a wild resident coastal cutts (bright colors with tons of spots on the body and head) in the same day, in this type of setting.

    What I have found with my own personal experiences is that the fish go through cycles—I too, have recently found what seems to be an abundance of smaller fish. I also experienced this same smaller sized fishery in 2005 after the lake had been closed for over a year during the most recent dome building eruptions. I believe that every 3-4 years there is a notable ‘shrinking’ period followed by a ‘growing’ period and then back to smaller sizes. Something else I have witnessed is that the fish seem to be larger in summer’s following a mild winter, smaller when following a harsh winter (like this past winter), which may explain the explosion of smaller fish this summer. Whether there is any scientific fact behind what I have seen myself I can’t say for sure, but what I can say is that for the past 16 years that I’ve been fishing this amazing lake, I have witnessed this cycle happen with each passing year. Today, big fish are still there, just a little tougher to find.

    Let's not change anything about this amazing fishery--let's just enjoy it for what it is; perfect.
     
  15. cabezon

    cabezon Sculpin Enterprises

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    Great pictures, Dan. And thank you for the historical perspective. I'm a little surprised that the two cutthroat subspecies have not interbred themselves into oblivion in the last 20+ years. I wonder if they differ in spawning timing or location.

    Your point about cycles (or the stochastic nature of nature) is well taken. There is a long-help public myth that the environment is in balance. As many long-term studies have demonstrated, there is a strong random element (or perhaps better, incompletely / poorly understood elements) to the population dynamics of many species and their communities. We hope for regularity and predictability, but interactions among a range of natural factors driving survival, growth, and reproduction of populations frustrate our expectations. For example, is the current apparent decline in the proportion of "large" fish simply a cycle, or part of the succession of this very young lake?

    Steve
     
  16. Trout Master

    Trout Master Active Member

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    Strike zone, you mention spirit lake a few times, I thought is was still closed to fishing?
     
  17. Strike Zone

    Strike Zone Member

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    Trout Master;
    In regards to Spirit Lake. Yes it is still closed to my knowledge unless you happen to be one of the select few who are allowed to hike into it to do a "test fishery" every so often. What a joke that is in my book! What makes them any better than you or me or anybody else. Those who have been on the "special" list to fish it, have printed in the local paper a couple years ago when it was last done as far as I know, said that the fish are not nearly as big now as they once were. They were averaging 18-19 inches at that time where they had been 5-7 pounds. I'm sure there have been some who have hiked in there and fished it illegally, but I am not one of them. Though sometimes I feel like saying the heck with it and doing it anyway.
     
  18. Woodcanoeguy

    Woodcanoeguy Member

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    Well Said Flyfishdan........welcome to the forum and thanks for sharing your wonderful photo's......I too prefer this lake and its fish just as they are. This Sunday morning in the early dawn fog I hooked and landed a dozen nice fish......what a magical place, swirling misty waters with the sun occasionally poking thru.
     
  19. Drifter

    Drifter Active Member

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    FLYFISHDAN what a great post and pics !!! I tip my hat .
     
  20. FlyfishDan

    FlyfishDan New Member

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    Hello Trout Master--

    You are correct, the fishery is closed to the public. With all due respect, those that have been lucky enough to be selected to assist WDFW with genome research is, in my opinion, very necessary. There are several specific reasons why the research needs to be done, they include; how did these fish return to the lake? Were they illegally stocked or could they have possibly survived the blast? (though tough to believe due to the fact the first scientists contracted legionnaires disease form the toxicity of the 93 degree lake after the eruption) Could they have swam up the outlet that was created by the Army Corp of Engineers many years ago or was there some other natural occurrence to explain their existence? If they were illegally planted, where did the fish originate from? So many mysteries to solve, so many unanswered questions; these survey’s are necessary and the only way to discover the answers.

    And yes—I was lucky enough to be asked, and it was a truly a lifetime experience. People spend tens of thousands of dollars and search the ends of the Earth seeking fish like the one’s in our own backyard. These studies have spawned numerous bills in Olympia asking the legislators to open this fishery to the public, most recently in 2009. Even with the most strict proposals, WDFW can’t get past the bureaucracy of the Forestry Department. There is a particular scientist (who shall go unnamed) that works for the Forestry Department, he was tasked in 1980 to studying the lakes return and is leading the charge to keep us out, forever. WDFW has even tried implementing several fishing proposals, most recently in 2009--a 10 anglers per day, guided, 21 weekend season for it only to be shot down in Olympia time and time again—no matter how careful WDFW promises to be with the surrounding wildlife. Humans, according to the Forestry Dept., would be an unnatural element to the biological recovery of the lake. I believe this amazing lake should be able to enjoyed by fishing enthusiasts all over the world and I am confident that those people would take responsibility in preserving the environment just as much as the Forestry Department does and would leave the landscape unscathed. Or at least no worse that the thousands of Elk that tromp around the shoreline every day.

    The rumors about the fish size shrinking I believe is just propaganda to keep our blood-pressure in check regarding the fact we can’t go in and see for ourselves. The fish here are unbelievable both in size, color, and perfection. In 2008, the last study done and the one I had the honor to be involved with, the trout were still ranging from 3 to 10 pounds—most over 24” in length with amazing girth. Even 0X tippet and mouse patterns were no match for the power of these incredible trout, it was an incredible day that should be shared with everyone willing and able to make the trek down to this unbelievable fishery. The lake is huge, larger than CW, and has an amazing abundance of both bugs and giant black tad-poles, a possible fuel for their voracious appetite and subsequent size.

    I would avoid fishing it illegally—the person mentioned above spends over 200 days a year at the lake, right where most of the fish population lives—the pumice plain. If caught—it would be considered poaching and you could lose the vehicle you road in with plus all your gear, not to mention the $1,700 fine. I would invite you to write your state legislators and ask them to open this amazing fishery instead of taking the big risk of fishing it illegally.

    Just my thoughts on the matter, for what it is worth!
     

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