Quantity Vs Quality

Discussion in 'Stillwater' started by Stonefish, Mar 10, 2012.

  1. Smalma Active Member

    Posts: 2,841
    Marysville, Washington
    Ratings: +718 / 0

    Good topic! To see more quality fish I think looking at 3 factors might be of value - the stock of rainbow planted, the stocking straty, and management/rules on the water.

    When it comes to production type waters I not much of a fan of the triploids. When they have to "fight" to make a living they don't seem to grow or survival well. At least in western Washington generall so very low carry-over rates for them. For decades the largest fish I have seen in various public lakes have been "normal" rainbows. It is those carry-overs are the back bone of any trophy waters. So the first step to more quality fish is moving away from the triploids. The Kamloop trout were mentioned. In the 1970s the State experimented with them in the Crab Creek qualtiy lakes and found they did no better than the standard "game department rainbows of the day. It seemed in that environment conditions negated any advantage that stock might posses.

    The cold reality is that in Washington it is the rare exception that the lakes will be single species waters. There seems to be bass and other spiny ray fish in most wate. This resuls in the need to change in planting strategies from the old spring fry planting programs. That means planting larger and more expensive fis On many of our lakes the sping period is the time of year that we see the greatest growth. As a result planting high densities of new fish in the spring slows or stops the growth of the older fish in the lake. Planting a lighter densities of fish in the spring and perhaps following up with a second fall will result moe consistent growth of any carry-over fish. Such a strategy will result in fewer fish but more of those larger fish - it will always be a balancing act. As folks have seen with brown trout adding another species (and cutthroat are another) to the lake often will produce a few exceptionally large fish though again over all catch rates will go down.

    While on the surface quality lake management would seem to be a no brainer experiecne does not seem to support that approach if the goal is to produce the largest trout. Yes quality management will produce a fishery with good catch rates of decent sized fish the vast majority of really nice rainbows I have seen or caught have come from regular management waters. The surviving fish in those waters have little competition as a reult continue to grow. A classic example was Lone lake prior to become a "quality" water. Once the open dy crowd left pressure drop and surprising numbers of very nice fish were being caught by those few anglers the fish it. Good numbers in excess of 20 inches with 5 to 8# fish being taken by the regulars. It was not unheard of to take a couple of fish in excess of 24 inches in an outing. With the regulation change the season catch rates increased but at a cost of those big studs. That is the classic dilemma for the managers and the anglers themselves. This is less of biological issues and more of a social one that has some very real bilogical side boards on what is possible.

    The question goes back to the angler - how many fish in your catch would you give up to catch a larger fish more often? An what do you consider to be a large rainbow?

    Tight lines
  2. Tim Lockhart Working late at The Office

    Posts: 1,956
    Mill Creek, WA
    Ratings: +285 / 0
    Good discussion and some great factual stuff presented so far. I'll speak in more editorial terms here since there's sort of an end game to consider in all of this. First off, I'm an advocate of fewer stocks when it comes to most places I fish. I won't back this with any scientific evidence, but from a lot of hours out there angling and observing it's painfully obvious that smaller populations would greatly benefit both the quality of stocks and fishing. Again, not everywhere but in surprisingly many lakes and ponds. I've also spent a bit of time pursuing and fishing in "understocked" and lightly pressured waters and there's no comparison. You'd laugh at the difference, and there's quite a bit of it for anyone wishing to do research and spend time exploring (that's not many). Furthermore I have sought out trophy sized fish that were stocked small and properly aged in their environment. That involved even more research, more rolls of the dice and a lot of faith but the fish were there and I wouldn't trade the experience for anything.

    So my concern surrounds the meaning of a trophy sized fish and what it takes to hunt one. If we manage toward more mainstream attainment, such that anyone can put in at a known "trophy hole," and yank one out for having made the drive, aren't we just endloading our bats to pump up the home-run count, or making everything a par 3 so virtually anyone is capable of a hole-in-one? What then does a 27" brown become? I'm not necessarily calling it wrong to manage a fishery that way, just encouraging some thought about what it means to take one of those fish when it's that difficult vs. something more contrived. After some of the experiences I've had there's no way I want one of those handed to me. Understood if it's not a popular sentiment around here but I think there's merit in reserving certain rewards for the few willing to go the extra mile for them.

    That may sound like I don't want anything to change but I'm more in favor of smaller stocking count, as mentioned above, along with a massive quantity of C&R/restricted waters vs. building a trophy rich fishery. But as I see it that speaks more to "decent" sized fish that take just a little more to connect with than showing up in April, hurling a bugger or buzzer out there, and hanging on. Decent might mean 15, 18 or whatever, but I like having something well over 20 remain well out of reach so that actually taking one is a legitimate cause for celebration. Just my selfish opinion.
  3. Drifter Active Member

    Posts: 1,636
    Ratings: +648 / 2
    Baker I have spent some time at thief valley also but mostly 4x4ing down to the river below! I've heard in the last 5 years or so that the res. is doing very good and am trying to plan a trip in may to fish it. The last person I know that fished it - fished with his dad and uncle from baker and trolled, when my friend caught about a 15 incher that was hooked by the lip he threw it back ;-o yikes did he get his ass chewed for it and was told that's not what they were their for. they were their to kill they're limits! I have spent many years in the La grande baker area from work since 1980. And love the area.

    I also have read about the tiger trout for philips and ODFW using Idaho's nets to net the perch while they are in spawn to help the res. that lake used to be my favorite in the early 80's off social security beach!

    As far as genetics go here is a brood stock cranebow hatchery fish, that I think is only in it's second year at crane. the fall planting so they can live through a winter and be 16 to 20 inches the first year they are fished over makes them very good fish in just 2 years. these two fish are around 24 to 25 inches. the smaller fish would be a first spring fish!

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  4. pond monkey Member

    Posts: 51
    Portland , Oregon area
    Ratings: +13 / 0
    Hey Stonefish,
    Yes they would be planting those AF3Ns as fingerlings...I have seen the stocking program change a lot over the nearly dozen years that I have been been going to a particular lake in BC.... They have reduced numbers by nearly one half and half of those are AF3Ns. The result has be "lots of happy anglers."
    Seems like you guys (Wa.) have quite a few "selective " fisheries.....I am envious...I think that if you keep pressuring the State that they will keep experimenting. I don't see much willingness to do that Oregon...
    We are to be moving to Portland area in the fall and I will be joining the "Oregon Fishing Club".... mainly for access to a number of quality, well managed private ponds in the outlying area. I'll need to get a pram....

  5. Drifter Active Member

    Posts: 1,636
    Ratings: +648 / 2
    The first year of the brood stock fish they planted 50,000 brood stock plants in the fall to see what would happen. It worked very well so the next year they planted 75,000 then the following year 100,000 and over. the lake is almost 5 miles of prime habitat with it's shallow water - not much over twenty feet. the bass counts and weight went down fast. large mouth before the planting averaged 4 to 6 pounds, when the trout started taken over the bass weigh ins of tournaments went to an average fish of 1 1/2 pound to 2 1/2 pounds and total weights were much - much - lower. even with this many brood stock plants you don't just go to this lake and catch tons of trophy fish! It takes knowledge of the lake and insects and areas to fish to be consistant with catches of big fish. sattelite images-gps-knowing where the rivers dump in and they're channels in the middle of the lake. correct hatch matching, the right weather. It is by far easy! If I had a choice I would rather catch a ton of these fish then pick through a bunch of planted 10 to 14 inch kill fish any day. sorry ford but this is what "TROPHY FISHERY" means to me. there are plenty of other lakes to fish that are not managed correctly. a true trophy fishery should have trophy fish and lots of them - but that is just IMO and respect yours!
  6. Irafly Active Member

    Posts: 3,695
    Everett, Washington, USA.
    Ratings: +1,105 / 1
    Lone in the glory days! Back when bass guys would hook up with 26" fish throwing rapalas. I do remember fishing it once pre selective, and I did hook up with one monster, but lost it. That day I ended up with one 13" fish. Now either do to my increased skill or the change in fishery, I catch many more fish, but the biggest I've hit out of there was probably 22". I can't speak for the locals, but I love that fishery now.

    I'll throw one more concept here, what about the Ford? Now granted i know that several of those fish were thrown in there big, but others have grown absolutely massive after being stocked as 6 inters. I guess that goes back to scuds again and a year round growing season.
  7. Irafly Active Member

    Posts: 3,695
    Everett, Washington, USA.
    Ratings: +1,105 / 1
    Ford, I like your ideas of people earning their fish or for that matter lucking into their fish. I know that in lakes, I have never landed a huge brown, because I have never put in the effort to catch one. Therefor I don't feel like I deserve one.
  8. Drifter Active Member

    Posts: 1,636
    Ratings: +648 / 2

    I have fished the surrounding lakes you mention in the portland area and they are not what you would think. they plant them early and most die the next winter because the lakes are not that big. most times they buy larger trout to stock with from private hatcheries. The portland and mt. hood areas are not good fishing areas for large trout, but central oregon is 4 hours away with many trophy trout lakes.

    EAST LAKE- just 2 years ago started a no browns over 16 inches may be kept. they also started planting klamath rainbow brood stock to help with chub problems and these fish should grow large fast and take hold in the lake.

    crane prairie rainbows to 20 pounds

    wickiup browns to over 20 pounds with large rainbows to 8 and 10 pounds also present.

    for numbers the restored diamond lake further south is kicking out thousands of fish. they also started planting klamath brood stock fish just encase the lake gets another warm water invasive fish.

    lava lake is now being planted with cranebow brood stock.

    I wouldn't forget about the famous klamath lake region either!

    the portland area sucks though for trout but you can always fish for those pesty steelhead and chinook or silvers in almost any river that surrounds the area. you might want to start studying about the summer steelhead in stillwaters off the columbia in late july through oct. nothing like throwing intermediates for 5 to 15 pound chrome summer runs in stillwater only 8 or 12 feet deep above bonni. when it is 75 to 100 degrees out! it's terrible-----;-)~

    I don't know everything oregon is doing and could be wrong about some of the plantings but know I'M pretty close and that oregon is making a change right now for the better!
  9. pond monkey Member

    Posts: 51
    Portland , Oregon area
    Ratings: +13 / 0
    I appreciate your input regarding PDX area ponds....I would mainly be in need of winter opportunities, that's all .....PDX area has some good river fishing but I am just not interested anymore... I used to fish rivers a lot, being from Eugene I have fished the Mac and the Willamette hundreds and hundreds of times ..... I have floated the "D" many times and it is a great one but I switched to still water nearly twenty years ago... and haven't looked back.... not sure why....maybe because I grew up in the midwest and lakes were the norm..... Anyway, I appreciate your input.Moving to PDX will require that I go to C.O. for two or three days at a time ....no more day trips.... My fav now has been Diamond as I like all the action.....I fished it about ten times last year and also I fished Sheep Bridge(Wickiup) about six times... Crane only once last year we....I haven't fished Lava for about four years ..... it does kick out a few big fish.... but Tui chubs are a problem..... Too bad they don't poison Davis. I have fished it many times but not in the last 6-7 years......back in the 90s when it came back after being down(low) for a number of years, they overstocked it IMHO and the fish weren't growing that fast year to year.... they should have small heads and deep, thick bodies...

  10. Smalma Active Member

    Posts: 2,841
    Marysville, Washington
    Ratings: +718 / 0
    Mark K -
    If the average size of the bass continue to decline it could be a very big red flag about the continued survival of the trout plants. While there is always some predation on trout by those large bass generally the biggest impacts on the survival of the recently planted trout is food competition from young of year and fingerling bass - they are essentially eating the same things as the trout. Ifthere are bass in the water the best hedge against impacts on the trout is having a balanced bass/spiny ray population where the larger adult fish keep the juvenile spiny ray numbers in check.

    Tight lines
  11. Old Man Just an Old Man

    Posts: 21,800
    Dillon, Mt
    Ratings: +1,725 / 0
    I'm glad I fish just to fish and have fun doing it. Don't get me wrong here as catching a big fish is on everybody's mind. But I'm just as happy catching small fish as most are happy catching big ones.

    Where I fish at and catching fish is not in the bigger streams but where there is water that is not over my ankles. I just love to play around in small water. Nothing makes me feel better than a fish that is about 14" long out of a small hole. It puts a good bend in a 3 wt rod.

    While I have fished lakes in Washington State as I used to live there. And I have caught big natives there. But you have to beat on a lake to find where the bigger fish lay at. Or what to use to entice them.
  12. Drifter Active Member

    Posts: 1,636
    Ratings: +648 / 2
    I understand what your saying and people have written about this before on the central oregon lakes like wickiup and crane- right now oregon bass club will be pushing for a limit of largemouth bass at wickiup also, crane already has a limit in place and many people are against this and believe (like me) that all bass caught should be killed!

    One thing to note is that when bass were ILLEGALLY introduced the rainbows declined fast. it was normal in the 60 and 70's (from what i've read about) to have massive catches of rainbows and an 8 pounder was nothing to brag about, it was NORMAL to catch fish that size. the trout population was huge and one of the best (IF NOT THE BEST) in the country!

    I'm no bio but what I think happened was the bass took over the food base from the rainbows and now after some 8 years of planting brood stock trout to grow large the trout have taken over the food source from the bass! the bass were huge since the late 80's til the late 90's when the planting and restoration of crane prairie rainbow trout started- they didn't decline until big numbers of rainbows were present. but if it is a over population thing why did the bass do so well for so long? and now after some 8 years of the new program trout are doing so well? the food base is their, if the mass of fish are trout they take that food base if it is bass they take that food base! it took a few years to see the decline in the bass - only when the numbers of trout were big enough did they start to decline. stickleback minnows were much to blame also and when the trout were able to get to a size that they feed on minnows (the large fish are stuffed with them) they took up them as a food source. the famous damsel fly hatch that was said to be gone is now coming back even though writings say they are gone from the stickleback. last year my boat was covered with them many times, one time my whole oar was covered on the down wind side, they crawled in the boat and you could watch them hatch. this was while fishing the middle of the lake a half mile from any shore! while taking a brake and going to shore thousands of damsels were in the air! I had to ask myself WHY? well to me the trout have taken over and are making it the lake it used to be like nature made it and the only thing that is holding it back are the bass and stickleback but the large trout are gorging on them, so the more large trout the less sticklebacks and the more damsels and other aquatic insects. I believe bass should be wiped out in my state entirely. because if there is a body of water within a 100 miles of a trout lake they will be either planted by some idiot in that other lake or birds will transport them. but I'm no bio but after reading many studies and seeing with my own eyes what invasives do I "HATE THEM" they do not belong in our waters and crane prairie is showing that if there are enough large trout they will take the lake back over from these pieces of crap warm water fish.

    The phillips res. enhancement program mentions nothing of the small mouth bass being a problem, just the perch - well none of these waters will ever be what they were before bass. they feed on rainbow smolt let alone the aquatic insects taken food sources away from native rainbows. trying to manage for both in any lake to me is a lost cause for the native fish of the northwest. I guess if they were steelhead people might be more concerned, heck everyone writes about no planting of steelhead but then we want to manage bass in our trout lakes? CRAZY! ODFW will have the nets in phillips and don't even mention any take of the small mouth bass their. to me this is crazy, they have a river dumping in for rainbows to spawn and could make it a world class fishery for trout. trying to please everyone is destroying our waters and NATIVE fish. it needs to stop - if the bass were native and the trout not then so be it!
  13. Shawn Seeger (aka. wabowhunter)

    Posts: 313
    Burien, Washington, USA.
    Ratings: +15 / 0
    This is a great discussion, and could be very emotional… so I am going to put another spin on this… it is all about where you are in life.

    Apply the same question to Beer or Whiskey

    You have:

    · People that can only buy Busch Light ($9.99 for 24 cans) = Quantity
    · People that want both Q&Q so buy, say, Heineken, Guinness, Stella Artois = Quality & Quantity
    · People that only want the best, any number of Micro’s or Imports ($2 - $4 a beer) = Quality

    This is similar to fishing (not just fly fishing).

    · People that want to go catch fish, a bunch of fish = any size, and a trophy (15 inches) is a surprise and makes a lifetime memory
    · People that want to catch fish, but opening day isn’t for them = 12 – 18 inch fish are great and the more the better, and a 20+ inch fish is a trophy
    · People that only want to catch trophies = only target water/fish that are 20+ inches and if they catch 4-8 fish a “Full” day is great.

    The other problem, is the location of several large cities (to many nature lovers), with people that have different values, ethics and education (even about handling fish, finger through gills for a picture and release).

    Just like, how likely are you to get a dad to take a kid fishing, if the only way is to buy the kid a $400 dollar rod and $300 reel (which probably will get broke or lost)? And how likely are you going to pass on the excitement and build the enthusiasm in a kid if he/she goes multiple times and never catches anything?

    Like many things it is a balance, if you don’t have people willing to buy license, for the April opener/put&take, you will not have funding for other stuff. If you don’t build the excitement and enthusiasm in kids to fish now, you will not have a big/growing fishing equipment industry in the future. (We baby boomers are the bulk now, but we will die off and then what?)

    Also, the I am not saying that WDFW get it right or do things right, but they have a Very Hard balancing act. Their mission statement is : “To preserve, protect and perpetuate fish, wildlife and ecosystems while providing sustainable fish and wildlife recreational and commercial opportunities.

    So, the balance is Perpetuate Fish and Provide Sustainable Fish Opportunities.. and to do all of this they need money from licenses, and to keep the current level of revenue they need to provide the excitement for kids (and some adults) of catching lots of fish (initially anyway).

    It all starts somewhere!

    Me and Brother.jpg

    Balance until you have the desire/ability of top shelf quality beer!

    My $0.02 worth...

    Tight lines and cheers!
  14. Smalma Active Member

    Posts: 2,841
    Marysville, Washington
    Ratings: +718 / 0
    Mark -
    There is no doubt that having bass (or other exotic species) in the lake has an adverse impact on the trout sruvival and ultimately the trout fishing. Where possible rotenone is the obvious answer. However as you have found out the illegal introductions quickly follow any lake "treatment". If it is not possible to remove all the bass experience in many waters the best for the trout/trout fishing is to "manage" the bass population to minimize their impacts.

    The worst trout survivals were in waters where the bass populations were out of balance (lots of small slow growing bass with few large fish). That is the situation where the competition is the greatest between the bass and the trout. A common factor in a producing an out of balance bass population is over fishing of the bass population. The fishing pressure tends to reduce the numbers of large fish pretty quickly resulting in too many small fish which quickly translates into a stunted population with huge impacts on the trout. The reality is that on nearly every water it is impossible to fish out the bass populations. A better strategy is to attempt to shape the bass population to reduce their impacts on the trout. One of the best tools for that is the application of the a slot limit on the bass. In this case the mid-size bass are protected (say the fish between 12 and 17 inches) and harvest is allowed on the smaller and larger bass. That allows for the removal of the largest fish; the likely predators on trout. While keeping a decent population of mid-size bass to keep the smaller bass in check.

    I agree far from an ideal solution but when coupled with planting of larger trout fry gives the manager the best change at a decent trout fishery. By killing the incidental bass we fly anglers catch we often are working against our own interests.

    BTW -
    On most Washington lakes rainbow trout are just as much of an exotic species as the bass.

    Tight lines
  15. Jim Wallace Smells like low tide

    Posts: 5,663
    Somewhere on the Coast
    Ratings: +544 / 0
    I will use the "slot limit" tool. I will absolutely kill any LM bass over 17" that I might catch in WA. I'll kill any LM bass under 12", too, up to my legal limit.
  16. Drifter Active Member

    Posts: 1,636
    Ratings: +648 / 2
    On most washington lakes rainbow trout are exotic species.

    The thought of rainbows being exotic to most washington or oregon lake is what the bass fisherman use to be able to spread the invasive fish! The rule or LAW is that rainbow trout are native to the state's of washington and oregon there for it is not illegal to plant them in any lake in the state. where the bass and any other species that are not native are illegal to plant in any body of water in the state of oregon. I've read that since oregon actually brought small mouth into the columbia basin they are not considered and "ILLEGALLY" introduced species. nice to change laws with a flick of a pen! odfw and many of the biologist get it wrong all the time, I'm still not convinced that managing bass is the right thing at crane prairie - maybe other lakes but crane is thriving! how long does it take to see the results from the managing of bass to be good for rainbows? how many years to prove this is right? where are the proven studies I would truly like to read them and see who wrote them because cranebows are back and doing good and the bass are not doing good - that's really all I am sure of.

    For the state of oregon kokes ,rainbows, west slope cuts are native - browns,brook-tigers and many other are not! oregon is taking away many of the limits for brook trout because they are not native and compete for food.

    Heck I want to dry fly fish for atlantic salmon in every river in the state so lets just bring them in and start managing them and screw the native steelhead and chinook and silvers. bring them in now, they are a better fish and wouldn't do much harm if you ask me, I'm tired of catching steelhead and chinook and silvers - if we bring atlantics in no one will care! bring them on - it would be a fly fishing heaven. and even if washington doesn't want them they will wander and tough luck!

    As you can tell I will never except bass in our trout waters. I'm stubborn and very unteachable. the only reason davis lake is even on the list for poisoning is the state has to manage the lake by law for trout! laws have always been in place for native fish management and restoration. it's about time oregon started doing what the law says.

    I was at a ODFW meeting when a gentlemen brought up the issue of stripped bass in the lower rouge river and bay area and wanting them to be removed for the well being of native steelhead and chinook - but one - only one guy on the panel liked fishing for stripped bass and like just waved his hand like a god and the issue was dropped! I was shocked and will never forget what that man did. they are not gods and can be accountable for they're action just like the california law suite and the oregon ODFW law suite brought against them for the management of the sandy river I live so close to and have fished for over 40 years! it's time for our inland native fish to be taken care of and restored, I couldn't give a crap about steelhead and salmon I have caught thousands of them. we spend billions of dollars on them and feed the world and get very little back from our efforts when our inland fish would be so easy to manage because they don't migrate through international waters in the world food chain. I myself am tired of feeding the world with my tax dollars and want something for myself! my native inland fish managed correctly! call me selfish!

    YEAH i'm RANTING! i understand what your saying smalma I just don't have to like it!
  17. bakerite Active Member

    Posts: 291
    Baker City Oregon
    Ratings: +82 / 0
    Mark: I feel your pain on this subject. ODFW does not care about wild trout or trophy trout. They just want to sell licenses and keep their planting fish (especially salmon and steelhead). Oregon has potential for amazing fisheries, but they manage for consumption not to preserve and improve a resource. I think Washington does better, but Montana and BC really have it going. Is there some way we can outsource management of this resource and have BC or Montana manage all of Central and Eastern Oregon (maybe Washington too)?
  18. skyrise Active Member

    Posts: 591
    everett, wa.
    Ratings: +51 / 0
    my 2 cents lately has been for more wet side lakes with some restrictions so that the fish that are planted have a chance to get beyond the 8-10" first year range.
    really does dumping a ton of fish into Blackmans do any good (yes i know why they do it).
    for the most part it does boil down to selling licenses and making people happy for a few weeks.