Where to Fish?
Click the link above for an interactive map showing current boat launches and common shore access points on Rufus Woods. Please be aware of current CCT and WDFW fishing regulations.
What is a Triploid?
For Rufus Woods Lake, the term “triploid” is used to refer to triploid Rainbow Trout. Triploid Rainbow Trout are utilized by netpen facilities and hatchery stocking programs for a variety of reasons. Triploids are sterile and unable to spawn with wild trout populations which helps to preserve wild trout population genetic integrity by preventing hybridization through interbreeding. Triploid trout are also supposed to reach larger sizes compared to diploid trout because they don’t transfer energy into reproduction, but this has proven not to be the case in several scientific studies where diploid and triploid trout grew at similar rates. Prior to importation to the reservation, triploid trout are produced at hatchery facilities by spawning normal (diploid) trout. Fertilized eggs are treated with heat or pressure shock at specific times to interrupt normal cell division to create offspring with three chromosomes instead of two. The resulting offspring are sterile if the triploiding process was completed successfully. Triploidy success rates for Rainbow Trout eggs used on the reservation are nearly 100%.
How can I distinguish a Triploid from a “normal” Rainbow Trout?
Normal Rainbow Trout, as with most organisms, are diploid (2N). This means that their cells have two sets of chromosomes, instead of three like sterile triploids. There is no guarantee that a sterile triploid Rainbow Trout will be externally distinguishable from a normal diploid Rainbow Trout. Most common physical identifiers are the result of aquaculture rearing, and are not always present as a sure-fire indicator that a fish is a triploid. These common indicators are a football shape and excessive fin erosion. Both of these appearances result from the fish being reared in an aquaculture facility, not from the fish’s triploid status. If a triploid was to be released prior to growth in the netpen, it would not display these traits. In Rufus Woods Lake, all adipose fin clipped Rainbow Trout are triploids.
Where do the stocked fish come from?
The Colville Confederated Tribes has been the exclusive source of intentionally released Rainbow Trout since 2006. Escapes from the net pens unintentionally provided more fish for angling opportunities in the past, but better management of the private aquaculture facilities run by Pacific Seafood has all but eliminated escapes in recent years, making CCT’s stocking efforts even more important. The fish stocked by the Colville Confederated Tribes have been sourced through several different methods. In the past, the Rainbow Trout were directly purchased from the privately owned aquaculture facilities and released the fish into the reservoir. The fish were purchased from the net pens at wholesale prices, and this strategy eventually proved to be too expensive to sustain. Currently, the tribe contracts with Pacific Seafoods to feed and rear thousands of Rainbow Trout until they are ready to be released into Rufus Woods or other lakes on the reservation. Additionally, the Colville Confederated Tribes’ Resident Fish Hatchery raises triploid Rainbow Trout that are stocked directly into Rufus Woods Lake to provide increased fishing opportunities.
Who owns and operates the net pens?
There are currently two net pen facilities within the boundaries of Rufus Woods, and a third one is in the process of construction. All three of these facilities are owned and operated by Pacific Aquaculture, a subsidiary of Pacific Seafood, which is one of North America’s largest seafood companies. Until fairly recently, there was another facility downstream of the Pacific Aquaculture net pens, Chief Joseph Fish Farms, which closed in early 2014. The Colville Tribes has never owned or operated a fish farm on Rufus Woods Lake.
Why am I noticing less / smaller fish in recent years?
As it currently is understood, Rufus Woods Lake has no naturally reproducing Rainbow Trout populations. The great fishing and large fish that have made Rufus Woods famous were created and sustained entirely through a combination of net pen escapes, CCT supplementation, and some entrainment of fish from Lake Roosevelt over Grand Coulee Dam. The net pen aquaculture on Rufus Woods has changed owners numerous times over the years; the current facilities experience very little escapement, removing the source of large and numerous fish that had sustained previous year’s angling success. During the same approximate time period, fisheries managers above Grand Coulee Dam greatly reduced entrainment rates from Lake Roosevelt downstream into Rufus Woods through alterations in release times. Current data shows that the fishery is almost entirely supported though the stocking efforts of the Colville Tribes. Rainbow Trout of large trophy size were stocked by the Colville Tribes in the past, but this practice proved expensive and unsustainable. The current supplementation approach focuses on more frequent releases of smaller fish (1 - 3 lbs). We will continue to update this website prior to planned releases.
Why are some fish tagged?
The Rufus Woods Creel and Supplementation project has a primary goal of maintaining a subsistence fishery for Tribal members and creating a quality sport fishery for members and non-members. In order to accomplish this goal, the Colville Tribes releases Rainbow Trout to supplement the fishery, and conducts creel survey to assess angler usage, harvest, and catch rate.
The external plastic tags used by the Colville Tribes (in addition to other internal tags and fin clips) are individual marked. When our staff encounters a tagged fish in the field, or an angler reports a tag online, we are able to cross reference the captured fish’s tag number with our release records. This helps fisheries managers estimate the success of our releases, and make various adjustments to improve our release strategies. With all of our releases, we hope to most efficiently convert released fish into increased angler opportunities and avoid fish leaving the reservoir or experiencing excess mortality. Alterations in release time, fish size and total number can have a far reaching impact on this success.
Is there a reward for reporting tagged fish?
Currently, there is no reward in place for returning a tag from Rainbow Trout released in Rufus Woods by the Colville Tribes. However, we do encourage anglers to report their tags to CCTFWFISHTAGS.COM to help us improve our fisheries management.
What causes the sores or worn fins on the trout?
While there may be several causes to various sores and fin erosion issues, the number one reason is rubbing against the nets in net pens or concrete in hatchery settings.