Pass Lake thoughts...

Smalma

Active Member
As I remember Pass has been treated once (in the late 1940s) with rotenone so the benefits of that treatment paid dividends for approximately 70years.

My take on the browns in Pass. They add a interesting twist to the fishery in both species and size diversity. Specifically targeting them is an interesting game. On the other hand anglers are paying a pretty steep price for that game. It looks to me that approximately 1/2 of the trout production is being used for those browns with maybe a 10% return to the anglers. Suspect for many anglers that price is indeed too steep.

Curt
 

Kfish

WFF Supporter
I would vote on increasing the browns fingerling stocking as well. Adding tigers and cutthroat would be interesting, we don't get many opportunities for these species here on the wet side.
 

Stonefish

Triploid, Humpy & Seaplane Hater....Know Grizzler
I caught a cutthroat out of Pass in the early 80’s.
Were they stocked regularly or was it just a fluke, like the first stocking of browns that occurred in Pass based on the story I heard?

Never did catch a Atlantic salmon in there.
SF
 
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dflett68

WFF Supporter
Great discussion, Curt!

I wonder if Pass does collapse over the next couple of years, what options does WDFW have to "fix" it?

The Lenice plan of switching over from fry plants to all catchables has resulted in a predictable, if underwhelming fishery. But I don't catch other species there. I have doubts that is a viable solution for Pass because the spinyrays are now well established.

I would guess the sunfish and perch problem at Pass isn't going to get better without making other changes. I've wondered for a while if the WDFW would consider going away from rainbows and instead focus on developing a brown and tiger trout fishery in a situation like Pass that already has a solid prey fish food base. It would certainly be a more challenging fishery and likely require a different approach to be consistently successful. Would a majority of the fly community buy in and have the patience to figure it out if the reward was trophy-class browns and tigers?

If not, that leaves rotenone. Tried and true when done right. But in today's world, is it still really an option to kill off a high-profile lake like Pass? It's one thing to quietly do it out in the desert. But Pass doesn't have resort owners lobbying for a rotenone treatment to bring back local business. I tend to think that left alone to make its own decisions, WDFW will choose the least cost option to keep the fishery limping along.

i'm curious what the average size of a "fingerling" is. i have a green sunfish in my garage tank that i took out of a floodplain ditch 3 years ago, and he's about the size of the fish ian shows there. clearly an adult and definitely capable of inhaling goldfish up to about 2 inches with little effort. 3" would be a major stretch for him, and 4" would be out of the question imo. i've had perch in the tank too although their behavior in the tank is a mystery to me and they virtually starve rather than compete with other fish - still, i would think their limitations in terms of prey size would be similar to the greens, and the pumpkinseeds limits would be even smaller. so is it crazy to think of leaving those spiny rays as forage for big trout, minimizing fry plants, and focusing on planting larger fingerlings at say 4" and up?
 

Irafly

Indi Ira
WFF Supporter
I would add the possibility of selective electro shock fishing to the mix of possible rehab options. There are some positive studies out now on the effectiveness. Pass might do well with the idea.

I would also be supportive of a mandatory kill on non target species in Pass, and other fisheries for that matter as long as the angler followed all other regulations.
 

troutpocket

Active Member
i'm curious what the average size of a "fingerling" is. i have a green sunfish in my garage tank that i took out of a floodplain ditch 3 years ago, and he's about the size of the fish ian shows there. clearly an adult and definitely capable of inhaling goldfish up to about 2 inches with little effort. 3" would be a major stretch for him, and 4" would be out of the question imo. i've had perch in the tank too although their behavior in the tank is a mystery to me and they virtually starve rather than compete with other fish - still, i would think their limitations in terms of prey size would be similar to the greens, and the pumpkinseeds limits would be even smaller. so is it crazy to think of leaving those spiny rays as forage for big trout, minimizing fry plants, and focusing on planting larger fingerlings at say 4" and up?

The size of stocked fry is part of it but also numbers. Curt wrote above that the last year of fry plants at Pass, they stocked 49,000 rainbows. 49,000 fry would need most of a year in good conditions to grow and the survivors would recruit into the fishery. That was before spinyrays got established. If fry were stocked today they would be competing for food with all age classes of sunfish and perch. That means slow growth and low survival compared to a lake without spinyrays. So by the time 2-3 years go by and the surviving trout are big enough to catch, there just aren’t many left.
It’s my understanding that this is why a much smaller number (3000) catchable size rainbows are stocked. They are in the fishery from day one and there are enough holdovers to become piscivores and provide some quality fish for the fishery. @Smalma did I get the gist of it?
 
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Kfish

WFF Supporter
I would add the possibility of selective electro shock fishing to the mix of possible rehab options. There are some positive studies out now on the effectiveness. Pass might do well with the idea.

I would also be supportive of a mandatory kill on non target species in Pass, and other fisheries for that matter as long as the angler followed all other regulations.
I will need to make myself a @NickClayton prison shiv for those spiny rays :)
 

Jiminsandiego

Active Member
I'll chime in here. I've fished this lake for three years now. At first I was a newbie to Stillwater fly fishing, but Tim Lockhart's book clued me in, and I was instantly catching several trout almost every time. This year has seemed very slow to me and talking with other anglers at the launch I have felt lucky to have gotten what I have. I am grateful for this thread as I have been wondering about other's experiences this year. Jim
 

skyrise

CCA, Hatchery Wild Coexist
the lake was planted with cutts back when I first started fishing it. It was fun having them in there. We still caught more rainbows than cutts. Really don’t care about that it costs more to plant browns it’s all for fun anyway and they have given the lake more opportunity.
 

Old Man

A very Old Man
WFF Supporter
Brown trout just love to eat smaller trout. Just keep putting the fingerlings in the lake. Somebody's got to feed the Browns and the Bass.
 

Ian Horning

Powerbait Entomologist
The browns are what makes Pass lake unique and why I love fishing there so much. I'd hate to see them ever be taken out of the stocking regime or lessened in numbers. While it's still good fun catching rainbows, I wouldn't fish it nearly as much if the browns weren't present. There's something about just never knowing when "the one" is going to appear and crush a fly. I've seen two in the lake a few years ago that made me sweat.
We have a few other lakes around here with them and they are capable of growing to good size in all of them, but in terms of friendliness to the fly fishermen, and population, Pass is by far the best.

Here's another question. Would other lakes benefit from the introduction of the fathead shiners? I figure having a robust forage fish base can't hurt trout populations, especially when (I'd assume) the shiners feed mainly on different food than fingerling size trout. Warmwater fish would benefit from their presence as well I'd think. They add a neat dynamic to Pass that is unseen elsewhere, just one more unique aspect of the lake. Thoughts?
 

Irafly

Indi Ira
WFF Supporter
The browns are what makes Pass lake unique and why I love fishing there so much. I'd hate to see them ever be taken out of the stocking regime or lessened in numbers. While it's still good fun catching rainbows, I wouldn't fish it nearly as much if the browns weren't present. There's something about just never knowing when "the one" is going to appear and crush a fly. I've seen two in the lake a few years ago that made me sweat.
We have a few other lakes around here with them and they are capable of growing to good size in all of them, but in terms of friendliness to the fly fishermen, and population, Pass is by far the best.

Here's another question. Would other lakes benefit from the introduction of the fathead shiners? I figure having a robust forage fish base can't hurt trout populations, especially when (I'd assume) the shiners feed mainly on different food than fingerling size trout. Warmwater fish would benefit from their presence as well I'd think. They add a neat dynamic to Pass that is unseen elsewhere, just one more unique aspect of the lake. Thoughts?

The fat heads eat mids, just the same way the fingerlings and the big fish do. I know, because I have caught them in Pass on purpose with mids.
 

Jiminsandiego

Active Member
The German Brown... For some reason this fish has captivated my attention over the years. In the Eastern Sierra it was was my primary target. Stocked Rainbow have their place. But brown trout are truly bad ass. That is something that is not open for debate (IMHO). The thought of catching a 22" Brown trout made me eager to move to Anacortes. I will always remember that moment..black leach..ten feet deep..just caught a 19"er and knew it was "special".
 

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