Northwest Fisheries Enhancement Helps Save over 400,000 Rainbow Trout During COVID-19

Recently Northwest Fisheries Enhancement Saved over 400,000 Rainbow Trout from Regulators During a Downturn in Markets from COVID-19

YAKIMA, WA, April 28, 2020 /24-7PressRelease/ — In a collaborative effort between Cooke Aquaculture Pacific, Northwest Fisheries Enhancement- (NWFE), Tacoma Power and Washington Fish & Wildlife (WDFW) saved 400,000 + Rainbow Trout from going to the dump to going to recreational fishermen in Riffe Lake.

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Cooke Aquaculture Pacific at their Skatter Creek Hatchery had raised 400,000+ Rainbow Trout. Cooke had permitting approval from WDFW until another department- Washington Department of Ecology had them postpone, re-permit and that process would add another six to nine months and still tentative. The Trout were to go to Cooke’s net pens for grow out in their Puget Sound net pens, replacing Atlantic Salmon previously grown. Now what to do with 400,000+ rainbow trout, this was the third time and batch of which they had to destroy two others.

NWFE chairman Larry Pryor discovered from Jim Parsons, GM at Cooke Aquaculture Pacific that in a matter of days they were going to have to destroy these fish. Cooke had tried to find any interested groups but no luck. NWFE reached out to groups throughout the Northwest from Utilities, Tribal, State and Federal agencies that might have a need for fishermen. Larry Pryor soon learned that Tacoma Power had a place in Riffe Lake for the fish. Cooke Aquaculture corporate gave the go ahead to hold them for another week to see if NWFE could find a home for them. By doing so Northwest Fisheries Enhancement saved 400,000 rainbow trout from literally being destroyed.

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Tacoma Power’s Natural Resources manager Keith Underwood and Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery complex manager Eric Shoblum and other staff got to work and with WDFW cooperation and got the transport permits expedited, WDFW sent pathologist to Skatter Creek hatchery and worked over a weekend to inspect the fish health, ok them for planting. Cooke staff never had a doubt in the fish health, they work with Aquatactics Dr. Hugh Mitchell and these are some of the nicest rainbow trout you’ll find, a Rufus Woods stock of Triploids.

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Cooke Aquaculture Pacific staff directed by Doug Simms, freshwater production manager and other Skatter Creek personnel delivered and did the plantings in Riffe Lake at sites above the dam and at the top of the lake near the Kosmos area, The plantings were challenging with the water down easily over 100′ from top of the bank now, long 12″ hoses were ran down to the water. Jim Parsons the GM of Cooke Pacific was at the plantings himself managing the pipe at lakeside with the fish rushing out into the lake!

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Larry Pryor of NWFE said “This turned into other opportunities now and Cooke Aquaculture Pacific will be growing more Rainbows for NWFE stocking and planting needs throughout the Northwest for other Recreational Fishermen! These are nice fish, better than what I’ve seen from other suppliers and with the Recirculating Aquaculture System capabilities of Skatter Creek and trout grow-out strategies are what we like to see and can grow to quality release sizes much quicker than others for trophy rainbow trout plantings!”

NWFE would like to add that the Tacoma Power (TP) Natural Resources group really worked hard to make this happen for Riffe Fishermen. From Keith Underwood, TP Natural Resources manager, Eric Shoblum Cowlitz Salmon hatchery complex manager who got the permitting expedited with WDFW, scouted planting sites with Cooke staff, he and his staff from Cowlitz Falls fish collection facility: Chris Foster and others were at the plantings assisting, at one point they had to get someone out from TP lands to inspect the release sites. you would think fish plantings should be easier but in today’s world are much more detailed, TP folks were hard at it to help make these plantings happen!

2 thoughts on “Northwest Fisheries Enhancement Helps Save over 400,000 Rainbow Trout During COVID-19

  • What will this do to the Landlocked Coho and Chinook that I fish for in Riffe Lake. Will the Triploid fish end up devouring the Salmon?

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    • Ted, good question, right now these are at about 7″ or so and more likely to be eaten by the salmon and smallmouth, but they’ll get bigger and compete for food and contribute as feed, it’s a pretty big lake though and you know the feed in the lake for trout better than others. there shouldn’t be much competition and these won’t spawn so will go to nutrients if not caught.
      the salmon your fishing on now are from above Cowlitz falls dam, that get by the collector and over or through the dam. TP remodeled the CF Fish Collection facility and have a Ferc license Mandate to get to 95% collection, at about 70% now and getting better. there’s a thought that as they get better collecting and transporting downstream to return as adults, the Riffe fishery on salmon will go down. these triploids rainbows will get big at sometime, soon, like the Rufus Woods fish you’ll see 5-10 lbs.
      this planting was an opportunity that should help the fishery and you the fisherman. Let us know what you see out there when fishing. Thanks

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