Thursday, May 31, 2018

BC, Washington State ramp up efforts to eradicate Northern Pike on Columbia River

Image result for pike suppression continues on columbia

Fisheries managers on both sides of the border are renewing efforts to control the northern pike population in the Columbia River and keep the invasive species corralled above the Grand Coulee Dam.

Columbia Basin Trust, BC Hydro, and the province’s Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations (MFLNRO) joined forces to fund this year’s program and secured the services of Wood Environmental and Mountain Water Research (MWR) to continue with a pike suppression program for the Columbia River, from the Hugh Keenlyside Dam to the US border, and the Canadian section of the Pend d’Oreille Reservoir.
“It is the first time that we’ve been in the Pend d’Oreille and that anyone has sampled other than Dan (Dan Doutaz, a Thompson Rivers University master’s student),” said MWR biologist Jeremy Baxter. “We just wanted to get a general idea of what the abundance was like and where they might be spawning and to try to suppress them prior to spawning as well.”             
                    See more on pike suppression on the Columbia River

The largest from the the Pend d’Oreille measured about 80-cm (31.5 inches) and from the Columbia 90 cm (36-inches), but for Baxter the timing was perfect.
Gill netting efforts began the first week of May, with two days of sampling in the Seven Mile Reservoir and three days in Waneta. Over the five days, the MWR crew netted a dozen northern pike in the two sections.
“It was a little bit less than I expected, but to tell you the truth, the water was extremely high and it was very turbid, and so there wasn’t a lot of littoral zones,” said Baxter. “But we caught them in all the same spots that Dan had sampled.”

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Northern Pike problem persists in Columbia River

The following is an article I wrote on the invasive northern pike in the Columbia River, published in American Angler Magazine in Dec. 2016.

 Water Wolves invade the Columbia River

Northern pike is a favoured sportfish by many anglers, but Esox Lucius is also an apex predator, and when illegally introduced into non-native waters, the alien species can wreak havoc on native populations of trout, salmon, and practically everything else that swims.
The toothy, prehistoric-looking predator appeared in the Columbia River system in southern British Columbia and the Lake Roosevelt Reservoir in Washington State above the Grand Coulee Dam in 2009. Fisheries managers believe pike were illegally introduced into the Flathead Lake system as early as the 1980s, traveled through Clark Fork into Lake Pend Oreille, the Pend Oreille River, and eventually the Columbia River.
 The uninvited guest breached at least 10 dams, infiltrating about 500 miles of new habitat, and is now poised to invade the Grand Coulee and Chief Joseph systems and likely beyond - into prime Columbia River salmon tributaries like the Snake, Salmon, Methow, Yakima, Wenatchee, Deschutes, Willamette, and Okanagan River systems.

Columbia’s last blue-ribbon trout water: 
The 30 mile section of the Columbia River between Castlegar, BC and the US border is one of the last free-flowing tail-water fisheries remaining on the 1,200-mile long river, and an exceptional native redband rainbow trout fishery. Jeremy Baxter of Mountain Water Research has led the rainbow trout recruitment program for BC Hydro for the past 20 years, and has seen the fishery make a remarkable transformation. But with pike now in the system, the redband rainbows, a descendant of the steelhead trout, are potentially at risk along with other native species like mountain whitefish and kokanee salmon.
“Everybody’s onboard in trying to control them (northern pike) . . . but it’s going to be virtually impossible to eradicate them,” said Baxter, who also leads the pike suppression program for British Columbia’s Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resources (FLNRO). “The goal is to preserve the native rainbow trout that exist in the Columbia, I mean that’s essential.”
Close to a $1-billion remediation and reclamation effort by Teck Resources (Cominco) in Trail and a Castlegar pulp mill, Zeltsoff Celgar, in the 90s drastically reduced toxic emissions and discharge of dissolved metals. Teck ceased the dumping of treated slag into the Columbia, a dense black smelting waste that carpeted the benthic habitat, adversely affecting aquatic plant growth, disrupting insect hatches, and, not surprisingly, found to be poisonous to rainbow trout and other species, putting the Columbia routinely on BC’s Most Endangered Rivers list.
For years the Brilliant, Keenleyside, and Waneta Dams withheld water during the spring rainbow spawning runs, stranding millions of redds. Yet with reclamation of fish habitat and BC Hydro altering its flow regime, caddis hatches became epic and recruitment went from 2,000 trout in 1999 to over 15,000 in 10 years.
“It’s such a large river, that there’s so much suitable habitat, that it was a no brainer that rainbow trout would do that,” said Baxter. “Once we figured out where they spawn and how to protect those areas with various flow regimes it seems to have worked. Now the fishery is one of the best, it’s just amazing.”

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Spring fly fishing on Mable Lake

Well after a year or so break, I decided to get back to the fly-fish-bc blog.
Not that I haven't been fishing, I fished with as much conviction as any other year that included a couple great days on Bleeker Lake and Pass Lake, a trip to the Elk River and Wigwam, a couple streams in Wash. State, a day on the water in Cabo San Lucas not to mention some epic days and nights throwing string on the Columbia River and local lakes.