Why browns are not planted in Nunnally-Lenice any longer

Discussion in 'Stillwater' started by Starman77, Mar 31, 2014.

  1. Some of the largest and nicest browns I've caught in Washington have come out of Nunnally and Lenice, so like some others I've wondered why the WDFW has stopped planting browns and Tigers in these lakes. I was chatting via e-mail with Chad Jackson (Region 2 fisheries biologist in charge of the Nunnally-Lenice chain of lakes) and he graciously consented to allow me to post his reply to me about why browns are no longer planted in these lakes to the WFF forum. I know this subject was discussed in other threads, but I never saw an explanation as thorough as Chad's. Chad's email is chad.jackson@dfw.wa.gov and his phone number is 509-754-4624 ext 250 if you want to talk to him directly. Anyway, here are Chad's comments:

    “Briefly, like other state Fish and Wildlife agencies, WDFW receives Dingle-Johnson funds (fishing gear taxes) to perform various fish management activities. One of the big activities WDFW uses DJ funds for is trout production at local hatcheries, which includes our brook, brown, and tiger programs. Every 5 years USFWS performs an audit on DJ expenditures (all states) to make sure these funds are not being spent in a manner that conflicts with USFWS’s conservation missions/goals (i.e., ESA). To the best of my knowledge, this audit is relatively new and I’ve only participated in 2 or 3 during my 17 year career. For hatchery programs funded with DJ funds, the USFWS creates regional maps showing all bull trout critical habitats and then overlays all lakes stocked with brook, brown, and/or tiger trout. These maps are provided to WDFW for review and comment. The USFWS will request information about the connectivity of lakes stocked with brook, brown, and/or tiger trout to bull trout waters. WDFW then provides this information to USFWS. In most cases these lakes don’t have any surface connection to bull trout waters. For the few lakes that technically are connected to bull trout waters (no matter how convoluted the connection) citing low risk of outmigration doesn’t always fly. In the case of Lenice and Nunnally, brown and tiger trout can easily leave these two lakes into Burkett Lake and leave via the Burkett Lake outlet into lower Crab Creek which is 1-2 miles from the Columbia River. Other lakes where brook, brown, and/or tiger trout stocked has ceased included the Falcon and Heron Lakes located within the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge. These lakes, like Lenice and Nunnally, are connected to Crab Creek. While the risk of outmigration in some lakes is very very low to nil, WDFW is serious about bull trout recovery and we want to perform our due diligence of decreasing risks to these listed species. Perhaps another way to look at this is that the risk from a single lake may be very very low, however, cumulatively impact from competing, predatory, and inter-breeding species on bull trout could be significant. That’s why we no longer stock these same species in high lakes (the only exception are isolated waters). I know these changes aren’t appealing to anglers (and sometimes to WDFW) that’s just the price of doing business when dealing with ESA.”

    McNasty, Irafly, Tom Bowden and 4 others like this.
  2. If the fear is that Brown Trout and Tigers might mate with the Bull Trout, I have two things to say. Tiger Trout are genetically sterile and there are things such as Triploid Browns. Is there no fear that Triploids or stocked Rainbows will escape the Crab Creek chain and mate with declining protected stocks of Steelhead?

    Is this the reason why? If it is it's lame and hollow.
  3. Sounds like a lot of "bull"...trout that is...:rolleyes:
  4. I wonder what WDFW's thoughts are regarding stocking browns in lakes where they could escape and have access to Puget Sound?
  5. I'm afraid to give WDFW ideas on what fisheries to shut down instead of attempting to open them up.
  6. The fear isn't interbreeding, it's competition (for food and habitat) and predation.
  7. All this makes me love and cherish our government all the more. And, just in case the NSA is listening, I already love, really love our government. Honest, cross my heart.
    dfl, constructeur, tyeoneon and 2 others like this.

  8. I'm no fisheries biologist, but I think the problem with triploid browns (or any triploid for that matter) is that the triploiding process is not 100%. I've read somewhere that depending on the process used, between 2% to 30% of the triploids don't take and end up being normal diploids. I believe this to be true because when I fish lakes that are only stocked with triploids, I occasionally catch rainbows that are clearly in their spawning coloration, which I shouldn't see if there are only triploids planted in the lake because true triploids supposedly don't go through the spawning process. Sure, it could be that the hatchery accidentally mixed diploids in with the triploids, but since I see it over and over, both here in WA and up in BC, I've come to believe that there are a few trout that didn't convert to triploids (probably the non-conformists or rebellious ones in the group :) ). I don't know if the hybrids like Tiger trout are 100% sterile or not, but I'd bet that it is a lot closer to 100% than triploids. Even so, of the Tiger trout I've caught, it seems like there is quite a bit of variability in shape, size, markings and coloration such that it causes me to wonder if the hybridization to produce Tiger trout is 100% in producing sterile Tigers. Hopefully, one of the fisheries biologists on the forum could comment...

  9. It would seem to me that rainbows are just as likely to out-migrate and compete with bull trout as a brown, or tiger might be. I'm not sure what else WDFW is doing specifically in Wanapum Lake to ramp up bull trout productivity, but I haven't heard of anything. This just seems like a dumb thing to do, b/c browns and tigers have been really popular with anglers in the lakes mentioned, and of all the factors to address, the stocking of sterile triploid browns or tiger trout seems like an extremely low priority.

    This kind of reminds me of the Skagit closure for late winter runs. They do it under the guise of being an effort to increase native species, when really it's just an opportunity to not have to do anything. The state isn't doing anything to improve skagit steelhead besides shutting down the fishery (truthfully the lowest impact factor affecting these fish of all) and the state isn't doing anything to help columbia river bull trout except for removing an almost (if not completely) nil factor effecting bull trout. Such a load of bullsh#t, IMHO...
  10. I realize that neither Chad nor the state has anythign to do with this, it's a federal issue, but you get my drift...
    constructeur likes this.
  11. The answer lies in the response from Chad. USFWS has jurisdiction over bull trout and they made a recommendation to stop planting browns and tigers in waters that could potentially be detrimental to Columbia bull trout populations and their habitat. Because WDFW works closely with USFWS, it sounds like they made a management/political decision to follow the USFWS recommendation, regardless of how likely or unlikely it was. This is a low-risk move by WDFW because they can continue to have a popular rainbow fishery in these lakes and appease the USFWS request. Since there are many other areas where browns and tigers can be planted without raising a stink, there is nothing really lost except we won't have as high as angling diversity in certain waters such as Lenice, Nunnally, Falcon, Herron, etc. I don't think it is any more complicated than that. At times, common sense is trumped by political will, whether in fisheries, business, politics, or any thing else for that matter.
    PT, dfl, kamishak steve and 3 others like this.
  12. Due to Genetics Tiger trout are sterile. This is due to the fact that the Brook Trout has 84 chromosomes and the Brown trout has 80 chromosomes and that this combination cannot reproduce. Therefore Tigers are not a risk to interbreed with Bull Trout.
  13. Sure, but rainbows are native (even if the strain in Lenice and Nunally isn't), so any competition that exists with bull trout is part of the natural cycle of events. A spatial and temporal separation between those two species has evolved that wouldn't necessarily hold true for browns or tigers and bull trout.
  14. Sometimes even a true sterile male triploid trout will display secondary sexual characteristics (for example, spawning coloration). And sometimes these sterile males may try and join the spawning party.
  15. that sounds like me!
    dfl likes this.
  16. If memory serves, every effort is made to cull male triploid trout at the "factory". Males are removed before sale to eliminate the likelihood of their attempting to spawn with diploid females.

  17. Sounds like a lot of work! It seems like it wouldn't be very easy to tell a male from a female when those trout are little fry. Up in BC, in the planting statistics, they identify not only what strain of rainbow is planted (for example, Pennask or Blackwater), but whether they are female or male triploids (for example, AF3N means female triploid).


  18. Rex,

    I wonder how they separate the fish by sex up there? Any idea?

  19. I have no idea, but I'm curious. Maybe some of the fisheries biologists would know and could comment?


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