CONSERVATION CORNER BY:
By: Miguel Ferrera
On Monday, May 15th, six Spokane Fly Fishers from our conservation committee went to Browns Lake. We found the water level really high and Browns Creek was flowing fast and high. The creek itself is in pretty good shape as far as a fish spawning habitat, very little sediment, mostly rocks, small and medium size gravel, and woody debris.
The road culvert that is upstream is the main problem. It sits above the water too far and water also rushes through it too fast, making it difficult even for adult fish to swim against the current to get further upstream. A new culvert design, probably an arch, would allow the creek a wider path of flow. US Forest Service engineers’ work load has kept them from beginning design work this year.
JD Jones (USFS Fish Biologist) was on-site with our group. At one point he placed his camera under water and took photos of fish that were hiding under logs and woody debris. The fish spawning was ending for this year. We identified 24 reds and 9 fish.
Inventory was made of materials and tools needed for work on the interpretive signs and deck. We had a good day, the sun shined and the rain held off until we were finished.
IN THE WORKS
A simple creel survey sheet for Browns Lake is in the works that will include the date, angler start time, angler end time, zip code, species (RB, CT, RBXCT hybrid, other), total length (inches), and harvested or released. Doug Keene has offered to build a creel survey box. There is a fairly common problem with people bait fishing there. Fish biologists JD Jones and Bill Baker are working on ‘fly fishing only’ signs, and an explanation of the creel survey and what fly fishing means. (This should probably mention violation fines as well.)
TROUT IN THE CLASSROOM FISH RELEASE
On Friday, May 19th, Claude, Doug, and Miguel worked with three Trout Unlimited volunteers instructing fifth grade students on casting with a fly rod.
FIN CLIPPING AT THE FISH HATCHERY
Fin clipping was cancelled due to unforeseen problems and not enough volunteers. Randy Osborne (fish biologist) apologized and thanked everyone that had signed up to assist.
SFFC YOUTH EVENTS
We are still looking for a youth events coordinator. It is not a big job but one worthwhile doing. Hopefully, we can find someone to take this on this year.
Please contact Miguel for more information.
TROUT IN THE CLASSROOM PROGRAM
FISH RELEASE AND CASTING EVENT
FRIDAY, MAY 19TH
This is a very worthwhile event that is educational and enjoyable for the students. The Spokane Conservation District coordinates this program for Spokane County schools that want to participate.
In January about 100 trout eggs are delivered to each participating school and placed in temperature controlled tanks in classrooms. The students get to raise the trout from eggs to fry and release them in the spring at a chosen lake.
Our Spokane Fly Fishers and Trout Unlimited volunteers will provide fly rods to groups of students and assist them so they can cast a piece of yarn to a hula hoop target. The kids and volunteers enjoy the event, and maybe a seed is planted for our future fly fishers!
FIN CLIPPING AT THE SPOKANE FISH HATCHERY
The Spokane Fly Fishers have been asked to assist with fin clipping on May 22nd, 23rd and 24th. As is usually the case, we will be working with volunteers from the Inland Empire Fly Fishers and hatchery employees. All volunteers work only one day, but you can work a half day if you want. Time goes by quickly while we socialize with everyone participating. (Lunch will be provided.)
The fin clipping area is set up very well, efficiently designed and the process flows smoothly. Several of our members have already signed up. I will be contacting people who have signed up to ask what day they prefer to participate and answer any questions.
For questions or to sign up contact Miguel at email@example.com, or call (509) 263-2534.
We are still looking for someone to coordinate the Spokane Fly Fishers Youth Events.
Please contact Miguel at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (509) 263-2534.
CONSERVATION/EDUCATION RAFFLE REPORT
The Conservation and Education Raffle came together and ran smoothly. Our donors, both club members and shops, were very generous this year providing us with over 140 items. Our net proceeds for the evening were $2,545.
SPOKANE RIVER FORUM
If you haven’t visited the Spokane River Forum website, you are missing out on a lot of good information about the Spokane River and its tributaries. They posted a video on Latah/Hagman Creek that I found very interesting (www.spokaneriver.net).
BROWNS LAKE REPORT
Browns Lake is a clear mountain lake, elevation 3450’ in Pend Oreille County. With help from our SFF members we were able to keep track of trout species and size at Browns Lake this 2016 season. We found the fishing to be good with the population of fish about 2/3 Cutbow and 1/3 Cutthroat. The Cutbows ranged 12” to 17” with the majority 14” to 16”, and the Cutthroats 11” to 15” with the majority 12” to 14”.
The last report received was that was received was for September 16th from Dean Knudsen and friend. They did well in 4 ½ hours, each catching 15 fish, with their catch being about 50/50 cutbow and cutthroat. (No catch report received for October probably because of the amount of rain that month.)
About 10 years ago, WDFW did not have enough Kings Lake Cutthroat fingerlings to stock Browns Lake so they stocked rainbows. Along with the natural spawning that occurs in Browns Creek, the lake received 12,000 fingerling cutthroat plants in 2014 and 2015, and will probably get the same in 2016.
Thank you everyone who sent in their catch information! I sent the results to the WDFW fish biologist, Bill Baker, in Colville and he is very appreciative of the SFF help with this project.
SPOKANE RIVER KEEPER
You may have heard of the Spokane River Keeper. I did a little research and here it is. The Spokane River Keeper program was founded in 2009 by the Center for Justice. Their mission is to preserve and protect the Spokane River, collaborate with other organizations, legal enforcement of the Clean Water Act, and helped form Spokane River Regional Toxics Task Force. In 2014, Jerry White was hired to lead the program.
The Center for Justice was founded by Spokane attorney Jim Sheehan in 1999, fulfilling a long desire to do more for his home town and its most vulnerable citizens. Growing from beginnings in poverty law, the center gradually expanded to include regional ecosystem health, human and civil rights, and government accountability. Along with the River Keeper program, they run six other programs. If you are interested, you can find more information at www.CFORJUSTICE. org. In April of 2016, they had their second annual
Wild and Scenic Film Festival at the Garland Theater (13 films).
SPOKANE RIVER FORUM
We received a big thank you from The Spokane River Forum for our participation with the Spokane River Clean Up event/project. Here are some results:
3.19 Tons of Trash
976 Pounds of Recyclables
All from Nine Mile Falls to the Spokane Valley.
Our Spokane Fly Fishing Club is proud to be a part of this yearly event. It’s easy to visualize what would happen to our riverbanks and river if no one wanted to do this.
THANK YOU FROM WDFW
Our Spokane Fly Fishing Club also received a thank you card from Randy Osborne, District 2 Fish Biologist WDFW, for our volunteers help with fin clipping at the Spokane Fish Hatchery. We had a great group of volunteers who “got the job done”.
CONSERVATION COMMITTEE REPORT
Presently our SFF Conservation Committee is looking into which Conservation projects and events it wants to be involved in. Aside from the ones we always participate in, there are many to choose from but only so many volunteers.
BROWNS LAKE REPORTS
We are still interested in hearing from anyone who has fished Browns Lake this year,
especially this Summer and Fall. We are collecting information on species and sizes.
Contact Miguel at (509) 263-2534, or email@example.com.
NORTHWEST NATURAL RESOURCE INSTITUTE WATER FESTIVAL REPORT
This festival was presented on Sept. 8th and 9th at Liberty Lake Park. Several Spokane Fly Fishers participated in the fly casting portion of the event showing over 500 fifth graders (from several Spokane schools) how to cast a fly rod line to a hula hoop target. All of the kids seemed to enjoy it and were obviously having fun, even the ones that had not wanted to participate initially.
Our club is fortunate that we have members that will step up to assist with events – – they make a big difference.
SPOKANE RIVER CLEAN-UP REPORT – SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 17TH
Our Spokane Fly Fishing Club took on the clean-up area down river from the waste water treatment plant and the Disc Golf Course section of the river. Lots of trash and recycle material was picked up, all during a light rain. This year we had a couple of Air Force guys join us. As always, the camaraderie during any of our volunteer events is great. Thank you!
FIN CLIPPING AT THE FISH HATCHERY REPORT
Between the coordinated efforts of Spokane Fly Fishers, Inland Empire Fly Fishers, Fish Hatchery employees, and an Avista fish biologist we clipped away 55,000 adipose fins. We had a really nice day to do this outside and the fish cooperated very well under anesthesia. These fish were rainbow triploids destined for Long Lake under an Avista program.
During the day we were provided with a tasty barbequed lunch. As always, the camaraderie was great, and we shared stories and experiences. I look forward to doing it again next year. Many thanks to our volunteers!
BROWNS LAKE PROGRESS REPORT
We are still doing a creel survey on Browns Lake. If anyone has fished it this year, I would like to hear about species caught and size. Three of us were there this summer and it was very slow; water was down about 10 feet. The results of the survey will be in the December Barbless.
Contact Miguel at 509.263.2534, or firstname.lastname@example.org
SPOKANE RIVER CLEANUP
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 17TH
The Spokane River Cleanup will be on Saturday, September 17th. Scouting for the sites is proceeding and will be defined but likely will be downstream from the Meenach Bridge as was the case in the past. A signup sheet will be at the September club meeting.
The work session will take two to three hours in the morning. Supplies will be furnished but participants should bring their own work gloves. We are very fortunate to have this beautiful river available to us. Let’s help to keep it clean and enjoyable.
For more information, or to volunteer, please call Miguel Ferrera at 509 927-3731. (This is Miguel’s corrected phone number. Rick N)
August Fishing Outing Report from Browns Lake
Recently several Spokane fly Fishers made the trip to Browns Lake to see what the fishing was like as part of the agreement with the Forest Service to occassionally survey the fishing. Miguel Ferrera reported that fishing at Browns was very slow, he talked with several people that did not catch anything, there was one guy who caught six on dry flies, he caught six total ( fished Friday evening, Saturday morning and evening, and Sunday morning, only two cutthroats, but two 15″ cuttbows ), lake is down about 10′ lower, he wonders what it will be like this Fall.
But the time there was really enjoyable, Sunday morning 7:30 am, Doug Keene and Miguel were the only people out on the water, and the lake was really calm, but the fish were not rising, and not biting, caught a 13″ cut on a nymph and that was it.
BROWNS LAKE TRIBUTARY CULVERT PROJECT
WDFW fish biologist JD Jones, USFS Engineer Lucy Reeves, and Kalispell Tribe fish biologist Eric Bernsten decided to design the project this year.
They hope to attain funding later this year and do the work in the spring of next year. Funding will come from different sources including USFS, Kalispell Tribe, Spokane Fly Fishers, and hopefully others. The culvert project design will incorporate staging areas for fish to congregate before going upstream. The Kalispell Tribe is very interested in Westslope Cutthroat Trout habitat, and so are we.
Please be mindful of campground regulations when visiting Browns Lake.
BROWNS LAKE MEETING WITH FOREST SERVICE
Representatives of your Conservation Committee (Gale Allen, Judy Kauffman, Doug Keene, and I) met with J.D. Jones, the new Fish Biologist for the Forest Service for the Browns Lake area, and George Schuerman and Zack Agman also of the Forest Service. The goal was to take a first look at the stream feeding Browns Lake and its current status for spawning cuts. As you may remember, the SFF and other clubs first made improvements to the stream for spawning purposes over thirty years ago.
We first visited the viewing and interpretive platform that was constructed with the first project and found that the reader boards were in still in good shape but the platform itself needs some maintenance. J.D. and staff then gave us a brief course about performing a fish habitat stream survey analyzing riffles, pools, reds, depth, width, impediments, stream bed rocks, and insects. We found the stream to be very healthy with little to no silt sediment lending itself as an ideal spawning stream.
A number of reds were visible. The main problem appears to be a culvert that creates a waterfall restricting movement of fry. A second issue is the need for additional woody debris in some areas as well as removing some woody debris that creates back eddies and other issues in areas that are destroying the banks and creating areas that are too shallow or deep for good spawning habitat. Most of the trails that were created in the earlier project are in reasonable shape.
The Forest Service has agreed to put up an information board and collection box for creel counts. It was also suggested that we place on the information board the definition of “fly fishing only” as defined by WSDFW.
By the way, we did get to fish a little. Although the access gate was closed, we walked in and fished from the bank. Five fish were caught…two cuts and three rainbows…a couple over fifteen inches.
Thank you JD, George & Zack.
BROWNS LAKE PROJECT
Browns Lake is a beautiful 87 acre Westslope Cutthroat trout mountain lake at an elevation of 3450′ in Pend Oreille County. Several of our Conservation Committee members will be making trips to Browns Lake to begin our long term project of assessing the fishery and needed site improvements. Tentative dates for this month are May 5th, May 11th and May 18th.
The Spokane Fly Fishing Club has a long history of involvement at Browns Lake. A few years ago, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife didn’t have enough Kings Lake cutthroat trout and they stocked it with rainbows. Since then via spawning we have a mix of cutthroat, rainbows, and cutbows. WDFW would like to return it to a cutthroat trout fishery someday.
Our project is to assist WDFW in determining the numbers, size, and types of trout in the lake. We will count spawning fish, number of Reds, status of creek spawning area, assessment of trail system condition, educational signage, and viewing platform.
If anyone is planning to fish Browns Lake this year (or knows someone who will be) we would really appreciate the fish catch information. I can provide a WDFW angler diary, or the information can be emailed or called in to me. We need: Date, Name, Water, County, Species (WCT, RB, Cutbow), Length to nearest 1/4″, Released or Kept, Hours Fished, and Total Catch. At the end of the season, all of this information will be given to Bill Baker WDFW District 1 Fish Biologist in Colville Wa.
Assistance with this is greatly appreciated! If you can help, contact Miguel Ferrera at email@example.com,
AMBER LAKE WATER ACCESS IMPROVEMENT
On Feb 24th and 26th, SFFC worked with IEFFC and WDFW on improving the water access at Amber lake. Years of use and erosion had taken its toll. We shoveled, wheelbarrowed, and raked 16 cubic yards of crushed rock, went over it with a gas powered compactor, pried and moved large boulders out of the way to clear an area for boat trailers to launch on the left side of the unsafe concrete ramp. Large rocks were delivered and placed about 6′ apart to the right of concrete ramp to keep boat trailers out. That area is for launching inflatables and the old concrete ramp can be used as a staging area.
This was a good cooperative effort from SFFC, IEFFC, and WDFW.
A big thank you to everyone involved on this project.
Spokane Fly Fishers initiates, participates in, contributes funds and supports several Conservation and/or Educational projects or events yearly:
In February, 2016, we worked with IEFFC and WDFW, providing labor and some funds to make a big improvement at Amber Lake water access.
In April, 2016, we will be doing a site assessment of Browns Lake and beginning a long term project for us there.
In May 2016, we participate in a couple of events that involve a lot of kids.
1 – Kid’s Fishing Day, a one day event that other clubs also help with which is sponsored by WDFW.
2 – The outdoor part of “Fish in the Classroom” – a two day event, where we work with students showing them the joy of casting.
Later in the year, we assist the fishery with fin clipping.
More details on all of these events will be announced; however, some of them occur with very short notice. To insure that your volunteer opportunity is not overlooked, there will be sign-up sheets at the April meeting and you will be called when you are needed.
And so it goes. Along the way we enjoy camaraderie, fly fishing, and a sense of accomplishment.
BROWNS LAKE SUMMARY/CONSERVATION PROJECT
By: Miguel Ferrera
Results of meeting with Karen Honeycutt (US Forest Service) and Bill Baker, Washington State Department Fish & Wildlife (WSDFW) on February 2, 2016.
Today Browns Lake is a closed system (small drainage which feeds a lake with no stream coming out of the lake). The water goes underground and resurfaces as Cee Cee Ah Creek. It is a cutthroat trout fishery. In the late 1970’s SFF conservation effort did stream improvements for spawning, created areas for reds (spawning beds), developed trails, and constructed educational signage and viewing platforms. Spawning beds had some success; WSDFW continued to stock the lake with Kings Lake cutthroats. A number of years ago WSDFW didn’t have enough Kings Lake cutthroat and planted rainbow trout. Via spawning there are now some cutbows (cross between cutthroats & rainbows). WSDFW would someday like to return it to a Kings Lake cutthroat fishery but do not have funds to do so in the foreseeable future. WSDFW has accomplished some research on zooplankton (food) in the lake. The lake does not have a high level of food source.
An assessment of current fishery status and a count of spawning fish are needed (volunteers needed from SFF): number of reds, number of fish spawning (spawn occurs sometime from end of April but usually peaks mid-May), and status of creek spawning areas. Creel counts are needed: size of fish, type of fish (cutthroat or cutbow), and number caught. Assessments of the condition of the trail system and educational signage and viewing platform are needed as well.
The Forest Service encouraged SFF to apply for grants available from USFS (projects under $10,000). They have grant money (50/50 match) for projects making improvements to USFS.