CONSERVATION CORNER BY:
By: Miguel Ferrera
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.
FLY FISHING CLASS, REPORT – May 2nd 3rd
By: Miguel Ferrera
Our trip to the Jenkins High School in Chewelah to assist with instructing kids on fly tying and fly casting was a success.
We were expecting 250 students but were surprised to have about 350 attend! Several of our SFFC volunteers and volunteers from Project Healing Waters (Veterans) joined volunteers from Inland Empire Fly Fishers, IFFF instructors, and John Newberry in getting this done. It was quite a satisfying accomplishment. We all felt really good after helping the kids understand the basics of fly tying and fly casting over a period of two full days. We were impressed with their good behavior and interest in the classes.
A huge thank you to our volunteers! Volunteers get things done.
KIDS’ FISHING DAY REPORT – MAY 7TH
By: Craig Adams
Kids’ Fishing Day was a resounding success. We had over 940 kids participating in the event this year. Everyone, including the volunteers, left with satisfied smiles on their faces. The weather was perfect and the fish were biting all day.
Thanks again to everyone who came out. An event like this could not happen without all your help. Special thanks to those who stayed after to help remove the net pens. This is the unglamorous side to Kids’ Fishing Day, but a necessary element. Again thanks to all and I am looking forward to next year. I hope you are too.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, 509-263-2534. Thank you.
TROUT IN THE CLASSROOM – MAY 27TH
Spokane Fly Fishers and Trout Unlimited will have volunteers at Liberty Lake to introduce elementary students (150 5th grade kids) to fly casting. This program is sponsored by Trout Unlimited. It starts with volunteers delivering trout eggs from the hatchery to schools. Fish eggs hatch and are raised in temperature controlled tanks in the classrooms and in Spring the kids get to release the fish into a lake. After the release, the students have an outdoor education day. SFF participates in the fun part of the day, fly casting.
We don’t have enough volunteers to participate in more than one or two of these events, and we need early notice from the schools that want us to assist. If we plan ahead, we should be able to assist 2 schools with the casting part of this program each year.
A big thank you to the volunteers involved this year.
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