Fry plants in west side lakes?

Discussion in 'Stillwater' started by hedburner, Mar 28, 2007.

  1. Does anyone know what the survival rate is on the fry plants they do in lakes around here? Also how fast do they grow per year? Just wondering about this cuz a lake close by has been getting around 20,000 cuttthroat fry per year for the last few years.
  2. My guess is "good enough!" My favorite lake just put an 18" cutthroat on my fly, yesterday. I'd say they do pretty good. If you ain't catchin' them, you're probably doing something wrong. I can say that, because I only started catching them only recently. Go figure. :confused:
  3. Assuming your question concerns survival of planted fry to human-fisherperson-catchable size, although there are likely many contributors to survival failure, it is my belief that the most significant one may be cormorant and merganser predation. In other words, a lot may rest on whether (or not) a significant number of those winged predators beat the planting truck to the lake in question. Just kidding. Well, sort of, anyway.
  4. Birds (eagles, osprey, herons, mergansers, cormorants, etc) + bigger fish (bass, trout, etc) + winter \ summer kill + other natural and non-natural environmental issues + poachers + freezer fillers = not so many make it past the first year.

    Just my opinion...
  5. Hedburner -
    The survival of the fish planted depends on a wide variety of variables.

    For decades (late 1940s to the mid-1980s) the planting of small fry (2 to 3 inch) into our lowland lakes was the backbone of the State's trout fishing. Typcially those fish were planted in the spring of the year and at rates of roughly 300 fish/acre (varied from 100 to 800/acre). In those single species lakes (trout only) survivals were often in the 20 to 50% range (higher in Eastern Washington than Western Washington typcially).

    Growth of the fish during the Spring into the fall was often in that 1 inch/month - those 2 to 3 inch fish would be 10 to 14 inch fish within a year of planting.

    Now for the vast majority of lakes that strategy no longer produces the kinds of success as in the past. Reason include competition between more exotic speices and much higher bird predation as well as changing conditions on the lakes.

    Survivals of those spring plants today are now typcially less than 10% and may approach essentially zero. Some success can be achieved if the fish are held longer in the hatchery to a larger size. If those fish are raised to 5 or 6 inches and planted in the late fall there can be some reasonable survival though bird predation can remain a very significant issue (they seem to flock to ice free freshwater lakes during the winter). Of course raising the fish for that longer period and to an increased size greatly increases the cost. Of to the poin that such efforts make little economic sense - better to plant catchable just prior to the fishery in terms of return per dollars spend.

    To your lake -
    If happens to a trout only water (very unlikely) you could expect to see some reasonable survivals - say maybe 20%. If the fish were planted at a larger size (say 10/#) and in the fall you may or may not see some survival depending on the variables discussed above.

    Does it produce much in the way of cutthroat catches? I might be able to provide a better guess at survivals if I had some more particulars.

    Tight lines
  6. Curt, what factors influence the differing survival rates between westside and eastside lakes?


  7. Kent -
    A couple of the factors that played a big role in different survivals were -
    1) Parasites. Due to differences in water chemistry between the west and east sides of the lake due invertebrate communities are found in the lakes. As a result tapeworm problems were a much larger problem in many western Washington lakes - often reducing survivals by half or more.

    2) Ice - Many of the eastern Washington waters were covered with ice for significant periods during the winter (more 20 years ago than today - Global warming?). As a result the fish were exposed to significantly less bird predation. Many of the double crested cormorants that nested in eastern Washington head to the ice free conditions western Washington.

    Tight lines
  8. Thanks Curt for the reply. The lake is Clear lake in Skagit county. Maybe if one fish per acre survives I might have a shot at perhaps 200 fish. I've never seen a lot of cutts taken out of that lake before, but the ones I have seen have been in the 18-20 inch range. Long odds though, but think I'll give it a try this saturday. Maybe fish chironomids in about 10-15 feet, if that doesn't work I'll bring some streamers too and see if any bass are cruising the shallows. A couple of more weeks and they'll dump the trips in there and everybody in Skagit co will be there.

    Or maybe I'll just head up to the upper river.
  9. Hedburner -
    If you have that size cutts in the lake chironomids would not be my first choice. My experience on our western Washingtons is that those larger cutthroat are consumers of the larger food organisms - sculpins, crawdads, etc. Their diet is not much different that what the largemouth are eating.

    I would be fishing 3 inch flies outside of the weedbeds - though you would have to put up with a bycatchof bass and crappies. By far the most productive time for me was the fall period (mid-Sept through October). Seems like the cutts like to forage more in the shallows that time of year; especially on storming days. The early spring (about now) can also be a decent opportunity.

    Have fun

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