Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Trout Unlimited/ODFW High Lakes Survey 2006

TU Chapter 678 members spent a lot of time in the Cascades high lakes last month. The chapter volunteered to help ODFW with trout survey work. The state stocks the remote high lakes with trout each year with a helicopter, but the biologists rely on anglers to keep them posted on how the planted fish are doing.

ODFW had appealed to the fishing community at large to step in, but was getting poor returns. So the chapter stepped in to help ODFW knock some unknown lakes off of its wish-list by hiking in and fishing for trout -- which is my kind of volunteering.
From MattStansberry

Labor Day weekend 2006: The first trip embarked from the Skookum Creek Campground off of the Aufderheide Scenic Byway (FS Road 19). Our crew (Todd and Lauri Mullen, Al Avey, Bill Laroux, and myself) hiked back to the campsite at Lower Erma Bell Lake with packs, rods, waders and float-tubes. After setting up camp, the team descended on Mud Lake, the upper, middle and lower Erma Bells and Otter Lake. All of the lakes had decent fish, aside from the aptly named Mud Lake. Members measured water temperature and clarity -- as well as several feisty trout.

The second trip took place over the last weekend of September. On Friday September 29, the crew of Al Avey, Bill Laroux and myself piled into Bill's truck to get a few more lakes. We picked up Register-Guard outdoors columnist John Rezell on the way.

Rezell wrote a great account of the trip in the Tuesday Oct 10th edition of the paper.

On the first night we hiked back to Helen Lake, a 1/3 mile trip from the Taylor Burn campground, north of the Waldo Lake wilderness. We found many nice trout in Helen Lake, but couldn’t convince any to bite. A giant fish was porpoising right near the bank as we walked back to camp dejected.

The next day we hiked from the campground to Moolack Lake, a 2.2 mile trek down a switch-backed mountain, across the headwaters of the North Fork of the Middle Fork of the Willamette and up another ridge to the Moolack Lake Spur trail.
From MattStansberry

When we first laid eyes on Moolack, it looked pretty dead -- still and a little filmy. But we made the trek, so we launched the float tubes into the lake. After a few minutes on the water, Al saw a rise near me and I cast at it. Less then a minute later I’d landed a giant cutthroat trout pushing 17 inches. We proceeded to catch Moolack’s down and deep cutthroats on weighted wooly buggers for the rest of the afternoon, including Bill’s monster 17.5” fish at the end of the day.

The trip back wasn’t as pleasant as the trip in, but we made it, knocking seven lakes off of ODFW’s list for the year. We will be including information on the lakes we’ve surveyed and the lakes that still need to be accounted for on the TU Chapter 678 Web site.

-Matt Stansberry