Dave Graybill - 9/10/2012
So far our September weather is spectacular, and I have seen a drop in overall pressure on the fishing areas of our region. This means a lot more room to move on the water and great weather to enjoy the early fall season. I do expect to see a jump in the number of boats on the Columbia River at White Bluffs and below Wanapum Dam as fall fish move up stream. I also expect to see a few more boats working the lower net pens at Rufus Woods Reservoir, as I was on hand when hundreds of triploids were released.
I got a call from Dave and Nancine Lorz, the organizers of the Trippin’ with the Triploids Derby this past May. They invited me to come up and watch them tag and release the fish that were purchased with the proceeds of the derby. I drove up early last Friday morning and met the crew at Chief Joseph Fish Farms, which is just up river from the Tim Ranch on the north shore of the reservoir.
In attendance were Dave and Nancine, Ed Schallenberger, with Colville Tribal Fish Management, Jill Phillips, manager of the tribal hatchery in Bridgeport plus staffers with Chief Joseph Fish Farms. It was a hoot watching while some of them wrestled these triploids while others placed the tags on their dorsal fins. Nancine tried it for a few minutes but could see that she was no match for these healthy trout, which ranged from 2 to 5 pounds. The team tagged and released over 700 fish. The start of the process involved Ed Shallenberger and Dave LeLano, owner of Chief Joseph Fish Farms, netting the fish and them transferring them to the work table. Sometimes three or four fish would be in the net and when they hit the table it was a scramble while they were grabbed and subdued long enough for tagging. You’ll know when you catch one of these fish. If you look closely at the bright orange tag you’ll see that they are imprinted with “Trippin’ with the Triploids Derby” to remind people where they came from. They are already planning next year’s event, which will take place on Mother’s Day weekend. I hope you get a chance to get up to the lower net pen a try to catch a couple of these dandy triploids. This should help get some interest in fishing at Rufus Woods as it has been slow this summer.
After leaving the tagging site, I continued traveling east. I was headed to Coulee Playland and since I was going right by, I stopped by Buffalo Lake. As I pulled up Mike Hall, manager of the resort on the lake happened to be there near the dock. He told me that the kokanee fishing was starting to pick up now that the weather was cooling off. The lake is at over 2,000 feet so the water here cools down faster than the lakes at lower elevations. The lake looked beautiful and I could see that there were a couple of boats trolling off one of the bays for kokanee. The fall kokanee fishing is something many anglers look forward to each year. This is when some of the larger fish are taken, and some seasons that means kokanee of 16 to 19 inches. He also mentioned that the bass fishing, was improving.
I want to remind everyone that there’s one of the best events in our region coming up on the weekend of September 22nd and 23rd. It is the 22nd Annual Wenatchee River Salmon Festival that takes place at the National Fish Hatchery in Leavenworth. This event is perfect for families, with a wide range of hands-on activities for kids that are designed to be fun, but also impart some very good information. It’s a great way to spend the day, or even the weekend as there is so much to see and do at Salmon Fest.
The inspiration for the festival is the return of the spring salmon to the hatchery where they are raised and released. The life cycle of salmon is an important theme, and activities like “Kids in the Creek” support this. Kids that participate in this particular activity are transported to streamside, given some boots for wading and then get to search our and inspect the insects and other critters that live on the stream bottom and feed the young fish before they leave for the ocean. There are displays on wildlife, including live raptors, and all encourage youngsters to get outside and see these things for themselves.
Also at Salmon Fest is the Outdoor Recreation Area, where kids get a chance to paddle a kayak, shoot a bow and arrow, strap on snow shoes, learn to cast with a flyrod and even tie their own fly. There are over a dozen different outdoor activities represented in the Outdoor Recreation Area, and all them introduce young people to the fun of what they can do outdoors.
There are some new additions to the Native American Village this year, and I always enjoy watching the traditional dancing that takes place at this site on the hatchery grounds. There is smoked salmon being done the traditional Native American way, crafts and drumming and even more to see here.
Summer-run salmon are now visible in the Tumwater Canyon outside of Leavenworth. There is good spot to see them in the deep hole below the Tumwater Bridge. My wife, daughter and I spent a half-hour here watching them cruise and roll in the clear water.
As we move deeper into our fall season, there is a lot to see and do in our region. I know this is the favorite time of year for many of our residents, and I agree!
By Dave Graybill