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Ron Enyeart
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Picked up this picture on Northwest Fishing Reports.



Here is what the report said:
Our group took a day trip to beautiful lake Lenore. We fished from 9AM through 4PM with a combination of fly and hardware tackle and noticed typical amounts of algae in the water. There were a few large fish feeding on surface critters and such. We landed one 24 incher sporting full spawn color 1/4 mile north of the fish trap on the east side just a stone's throw off of the beach.

The bite was dismal aside from that great looking fish and we decided to investigate the fish trap / creek to determine if there were many fish holding in the trap area as they normally do this time of year.

Unfortunately there has been another fish kill or so it seems. There are over one hundred dead rotting Lohantans dried up or floating in the trap area. The water flow coming out of the creek is but a trickle. My guess is that the fish died to the water feature that's fed from the other side of the highway may either be clogged up or the water source has diminished. No living fish were seen entering or leaving the trap area during our visit.

It was a sad sight to see all of those fish dead and rotting. The smell stuck with you for awhile after leaving the site.

We left the north and headed to the irrigation pumps on the south end next to the big rock and noticed the same smell but no dead fish. There was a thick crust of some sort of rotting plant life or algae congealed near where the pumps suck from the lake.

We identified a hand full of large healthy fish in the pool near the pumps, but decided to call our trip and go home early because of what we had seen.
 

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I just spoke with the district fish biologist and was told that it's a normal occurrence and is not a detriment to the population.
That's a tough one for me to accept: "not a detriment", you know? I guess if that many fish suffocate in the feeder creek, then the poachers who gill netted that same creek weren't a detriment according to Rich: http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2014/may/11/lahontans-still-thrive-at-lake-lenore-despite-net/

Two years ago at the other end, the pumping ends, there were dozens and dozens of Lahontans in the pump intake channel. I think it is difficult for them to escape the intake channel.

I guess, for me, it seems like it would be better fisheries management if fish could be crowded back into the lake or, when escapement is met at the trap, that a barrier be placed to prevent fish from migrating back up a dwindling inlet creek. Same for the pump channel; some type of barrier to keep the fish in the lake.

Money, staff. No money, not enough staff and likely, not enough care.
 

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Triploid, Humpy & Seaplane Hater....Know Grizzler
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Over the years, every time I've stopped by and looked at the trap during the spring, there were good numbers of dead fish.
Can't say I recall seeing as many as in the picture, but there were a fair number of them that were dead.
SF
 

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I almost replied to the original post on northwest fishing reports. We get reports in the shop from panicked fishermen about this time every year that there are "thousands of dead fish" at the north end of the lake and in the spawning creek. I've never personally seen more than what was in the photos, but the last two years have produced better fishing than the previous 7-8 on Lenore. It has been pretty warm overall this spring, so the fishing right now wouldn't likely be any good. That report did show a nice big healthy fish that they caught. I don't think it's time to panic about Lenore.
 

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Ron Enyeart
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I just spoke with the district fish biologist and was told that it's a normal occurrence and is not a detriment to the population.
Thanks for making the call Bruce.
 
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Lake Lenore fish are non-native fish in a non-functional, on-site spawning situation-they are planted after being reared at a hatchery. I do not know if any small amount natural rearing is to be had in that tiny little stretch where they are caught and selected for broodstock.

Spawning fish in tiny tributaries are suspect to the conditions that put them in harms way-low oxygen, low flows, hot water temps and any of a bunch of reasons these fish died off. That is why Triploids get so big and do well with longevity. Lenore fish are going through the motions in futility.

Honestly, not alot to worry about unless it is a widespread fungal/disease situation and it affects the whole population. Certainly does not affect the spawning/reproduction of this cool-but basic planter lake as long as broodstock numbers are met.
 

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And? Any explanation as to why this is happening?
There is always some number (high tens to hundreds) of Lahontan Cutthroat Trout that die in the spawning channel at Lake Lenore each year. Some of the die off can be attributed to post-spawn mortalities or to the later arriving spawners instinctively remaining in the channel and dying due to normally changing, but poor water quality conditions in the channel. The spawning channel is dry most of the times of the year and only charges up from late winter to early spring. Each year WDFW hatchery staff live spawn the Lahontan Cutthroat Trout so the fish can return the following year to spawn and after the egg take goal is achieved, the hatchery workers will return to the lake a couple of times to strip eggs from as many fresh females as possible. Stripping the eggs from females accomplishes two main things: females don't have to reabsorb all or part of this year's eggs (very stressful) during the spring when water temperatures naturally increase and second, it improves next year's egg quality for egg collection by hatchery staff. Lake Lenore is also the source of Lahontan Cutthroat Trout eggs for lake stocking in Washington.

The spawning channel produces zero naturally produced fry because it has very poor suitable spawning substrates and it dries up before the eggs can hatch. Thus the Lahontan Cutthroat Trout population in Lake Lenore is solely maintainted by hatchery fingerling plants. The lake is annually stocked with about 70,000 fingerlings in the fall.

So with the number of fingerlings planted each year and that there are probably thousands of older aged fish (these fish can live up to 6 -8 years), having one to a few hundred fish die in the spawning channel each year is miniscule impact. With that being said, WDFW does acknowledge that the site of hundreds of dead large and spawning age Lahontan Cutthroat Trout is hard to look at. And even though the fish that die do not represent a negative impact, the WDFW still appreciates anglers calling in to report it and ask about it. WDFW appreciates it because staff still check on it every year to verify the die off isn't something different from the "normal occurrence."

If you still have questions, call the district fish biologist, Chad Jackson. He is more than happy to talk to you.
 
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