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 CTCR 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 also often reach larger sizes compared to diploid trout because they don’t transfer energy into reproduction. 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 sets of 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?
In Rufus Woods Lake, all adipose fin clipped Rainbow Trout are triploids. 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.
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 has all but eliminated escapes in recent years, making CTCR stocking efforts even more important. The fish stocked by the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation have been sourced through several different methods. In the past, the Rainbow Trout were directly purchased from the privately owned aquaculture facilities who then 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 the netpen operators to feed and rear tens of thousands of Rainbow Trout until they are ready to be released into Rufus Woods or other lakes on the reservation. Additionally, the CTCR Resident Fish Hatchery raises triploid Rainbow Trout that are stocked directly into Rufus Woods Lake to provide increased fishing opportunities. Past stocking numbers and dates for Rufus Woods can be found on this site on the "General Stocking History" tab, and stocking data for other reservation lakes and streams can be found at the CTCR Resident Fish Database website.
Who owns and operates the net pens?
There are currently three net pen facilities within the boundaries of Rufus Woods. 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 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 only one very small naturally reproducing Rainbow Trout population. The great fishing and large fish that have made Rufus Woods famous were created and sustained entirely through a combination of net pen escapes, CTCR 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 attempted to reduce entrainment rates from Lake Roosevelt downstream into Rufus Woods through alterations in release times and dam operations. Current data shows that the fishery is mostly 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). These recently stocked fish make up the bulk of the catch, but some hold-over fish are caught, and these still reach very large sizes. So those trophy sized fish are still out there!
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 surveys 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 individually marked. When our staff encounters a tagged fish in the field, or an angler reports a tag online (on this website), we are able to cross reference the captured fish’s tag number with our release records. All tag codes are also listed in the "Tag Information" tab on this website as well so anglers can look up their tag codes themselves if they want also. 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 on the "Report a Tagged Fish" tab 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 most common cause is rubbing against the nets in net pens or concrete in hatchery settings.
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