Ell Lake update

Discussion in 'Stillwater' started by Jim Wheeler, Apr 25, 2013.

  1. Jim Wheeler

    Jim Wheeler Full time single dad and pram builder

    After the last few years of fighting those who thought Ell Lake was killed by the irrigators and growth in the Aeneas Valley area I have some good news. It's back! Who knows for how long but so far this Spring the water levels have come up about 4 1/2' and the scud population is prolific to say the least. It has continued to rise throughout the Spring due to water actually running into the ground. In years past we've had a few hard rains and then a hard freeze before it snowed in the Fall and Winter. What that does is that in the Spring when it thaws the snowmelt runs off not making it through the ice layer onto the Columbia instead of soaking in to the ground filling the aquifers. As all the lakes here are spring fed a solid, pressure from a full aquifer is crucial in maintaining lake levels. The level is now just about up to the boat launch. Those of you who actually know what that means know that's huge!!! I have been communicating with Bob Jattef with fisheries and we agreed that trying to put some fish in the lake for the summer to see what happens would be a good idea. So, "in the next week or so", according to Bob, the State will be introducing some "catchable fish" into Ell. With the incredible scud population I doubt it will take too long for the fish to get to the "fun" stage. Like I said many years ago, Ell Lake and the others around here are cyclical in water levels. Either way, this is good news. Oh, you have a brand spankin' new toilet too. Fully ADA compliant. Why? I have no idea. I thought the state was out of money?

    Jim Wheeler
    Spring Creek Prams
     
  2. zen leecher aka bill w

    zen leecher aka bill w born to work, forced to fish

    Good info Jim and hope things are good for you up in Tonasket.
     
  3. Topstoy

    Topstoy Member

    Great news! The last time I stopped by Ell a couple of years ago the level was so low...let us know if you get any comfirmation that it did get stocked. I might give it a few months and then give it a try.
     
  4. Scott Salzer

    Scott Salzer previously micro brew

    Jim, that is good news. Thanks for the update.
     
  5. triploidjunkie

    triploidjunkie Active Member

    Thanks for posting. That was always one of my favorite lakes, and I was deeply saddened by it's demise. Let's hope it stays healthy.
     
  6. Golden Trout

    Golden Trout Active Member

    The best news I have heard in many moons. Thanks for the very interesting post.
     
  7. Brookie_Hunter

    Brookie_Hunter aka Dave Hoover

    I drove by Ell Lake weekend when heading to my cabin but I thought it still looked real low from the quick look I had going either way. Great to hear that it's still got a pulse and is better than what it quickly appeared driving by. The next time out I'll have to wet a fly if there's something to fish for. Thanks for the report.
     
  8. IveofIone

    IveofIone Active Member

    Jim, Thanks for the update. That is indeed good news. "L" lake had become 'I" lake it was so low and was once one of the fabled fly fishing lakes in Washington. I have fished the Okonogan area for about 30 years now and the loss of Ell was just tragic. Perhaps there is hope for Sidley too-it was once a destination lake also.

    If Ell does get some fish it might be a good bet the last week of the season.

    Ive
     
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  9. triploidjunkie

    triploidjunkie Active Member

    Did you try the West Fork while up at your cabin? I'm assuming it's out that way if you drive past ell lake.
     
  10. Jim Wheeler

    Jim Wheeler Full time single dad and pram builder

    Ive,

    Funny story (or urban/rural legend) is that back in the 50's Ell got so low that there was no water in it and the locals transported what fish they could get in 5 gallon buckets to Round Lake and, because the bottom of Ell was still damp they planted potatos as they didn't have to water them. Like I said, I have no idea of the validity of the story. And Dave, I guess "low" is relative. When we movrf here about 11 years ago it was about where it is now "maybe" a little higher but you still couldn't use the boat launch. Either way, it's a good sign. Oh, and Ive, don't tell anyone about the last week. Some of the best fishing I have ever had was the last three days of the season on that lake.

    Jim
     
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  11. Brookie_Hunter

    Brookie_Hunter aka Dave Hoover


    I've fished the WF of the San Poil many times. Plenty of people out there fish it too but there's some decent action to be found. One of these days, I'll get a tribal license and fish the stretch on the Reservation.
     
  12. Brookie_Hunter

    Brookie_Hunter aka Dave Hoover

    IMGP1280.JPG I went by Ell lake this past weekend and with the very light snow season this winter, it looks like it's already lost ground from last year even before Summer has really got going. Has anyone tried it this year?
     
  13. IveofIone

    IveofIone Active Member

    Man, that looks pathetic
     
  14. triploidjunkie

    triploidjunkie Active Member

    I don't see any fish jumping!:(
     
  15. Golden Trout

    Golden Trout Active Member

    Honestly I did not think it looked much better than this last year but I didn't want to spoil the possibilities. Did my annual dapping the Sinliheken on my way home from fishing Blue Lk this morning only to find late summer flows. This little creek is normally ripping this time of year. "May wild fires in Alaska" yea, Climate Change is just a myth.
     
  16. Vladimir Steblina

    Vladimir Steblina Retired Forester...now fishing instead of working

  17. Jim Wheeler

    Jim Wheeler Full time single dad and pram builder

    Truth is the water level last year was the best in about the past 4-5 years. It was up because of last years winter and the way we had a spring. It is down again this year and that is substantiated by the local ponds also being doen. Last year the snow was allowed to go into the ground instead of years past where the ground was still frozen and with the melt all that happened was the water just ran down ditches to the river instead of into the aquafer. With that said WDFW and I put in about 100 fish last year (fishing was really pretty good) but without an aerator over the winter they all winter killed due to the now shallow nature of the lake. Again, it was agreed with the State that as soon as we can get an increased water level there are about 5 of us who are willing to foot the bill for a $4,000 aerator to put in and the lake can once again be productive.
     
  18. Golden Trout

    Golden Trout Active Member

    Jim: I came to this forum some years ago because of this lake and the attachment I have had with it for many years. I would gladly be one of those who would contribute to the cost of the Aerator. I have had the insane thought of somehow giving this lake a badly needed transfusion and would help pay for that as well. Even though I doubt your theory I want to believe it and can be counted on to help in any way necessary.

    At one time an elderly Gent from the Spokane fly club used to frequent this lake. I suspect he has become disabled or has left our planet. (I Certainly hope not) In those days the Spokane fly club was footing the bill. Maybe there are those on this forum who could speak to this and the gentlemen who frequented the lake.

    Vlad: Tongue in cheek, and thanx for the book. Try truthdig.org for climate change thoughts.
     
  19. Jim Wheeler

    Jim Wheeler Full time single dad and pram builder

    GT,

    I think the money portion of the project is pretty much taken care between myself (Spring Creek Prams), and three clubs but when it comes to fruition I am sure there will be a call to arms to reduce eveyines cost. Not sure what "theory" you're speaking of. If it's the runoff thought all you need to do is to go through the differences in the Fall/Winter/Spring cycle a few times to see the difference here in the valley. It's real. As for Ell Lake. There is one irrigator who has rights to the lake. He is the only one and owns about 30 acres behind the lake. As we all know if you don't use your water rights in Washington State every so often you lose them. This guy stood to lose them and he figures they're worth about $100k if he sells them "downstream" (which he CAN do). So, after he watered his 30 acres (dirt, no crop) for 5 days it took the water level in Ell Lake down about 3 1/2'. Yes, 5 days. So, I got the state involved and it was negotiated that he would not lose the water rights and he is now allowed to NOT water and NOT lose them for a number of years. So, if we can get out of an 11 year drought in the Okanogan Valley and have a few more decent "cycles" the lake will come back. Hell, in the 50's the water pretty much let Ell Lake and they carted the fish down to Round Lake and grew potatos in the marshy bed of Ell Lake. As for the Spokane club helping with the lake all I know is for the past 15+ years the Okanogan Fly Club has been paying for and maintaining the aerator in the lake until my father-in-law passed away about 8 years ago. Hoping the lake will come back but I think I'll be gone from the area before that happens.
     
  20. aruncus2

    aruncus2 New Member


    Forestry Science.... oxymoron
    I think he was being sarcastic. Say we all choose to disagree on climate change/global warming. Our seas are becoming more acidic from anthropgenic CO2. They are moving oyster beds to Hawaii, coral is dying off. The bottom line is we need to stop burning fossil fuels. We could have had this solved by now, but we did nothing for years since we became aware of the problem. Petroleum companies and conservative politics have thwarted progress. We can sit on our asses and wait for the next asteroid to hit the earth or we can do the right thing and do what is needed to insure the health of the planet for future generations until that asteroid hits.
     
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