This year the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife plans to stock 11,000 rainbow trout (including 3,000 of trophy size) in popular Lake of the Woods, and the agency would like anglers help in figuring out what happens to those fish.
To do this, ODFW will tag and release a known number of fish into the lake beginning the week of April 25, and is asking anglers who catch a tagged fish to report the information to ODFW.
According to Bill Tinniswood, ODFW fish biologist in Klamath Falls, the goal is to replace time-consuming and expensive creel surveys – interviewing anglers – with a more cost effective way to learn more about the fishery.
“We know anglers catch a lot of fish in Lake of the Woods,” Tinniswood said. “But we don’t necessarily know if we’re stocking the lake with the optimum number of fish or using the best fish stocks to maximize angler satisfaction.”
The program in Lake of the Woods is part of a larger ODFW pilot program to find an efficient way to track the harvest, movement and growth of hatchery stocked fish. The pilot program began last spring in Wallowa Lake in Northeast Oregon and Henry Hagg Lake in the Willamette Valley.
“If every angler who catches a tagged fish reports it, we can calculate the total number of fish caught as a proportion of the number of fish released,” Tinniswood. To fine tune these calculations, a small number fish will carry a special reward tag worth $50 to the angler who turns it in.
In Lake of the Woods ODFW will release 500 tagged rainbow trout, including 36 with reward tags.
Tinniswood describes the program as a win for both ODFW and local anglers. ODFW gets valuable information to help better manage the fishery, and anglers get a chance to participate in fishery management and, perhaps, come away with $50 for that help, he said.
If you catch a tagged fish in Lake of the Woods:
Tagged fish can be harvested or released. If the fish is released, cut the tag off at the base rather than try to rip the tag out.
Anglers can report non-reward tags in person, by mail, by phone, or by using the tag-reporting page on the ODFW website.
Reward tags must be returned to the Klamath District Office at 1850 Miler Island Rd., Klamath Falls, OR 97603, either in person or by mail.
Look for “Tag Team” posters at the boat ramps for further project and contact information.
This pilot program will be funded through a grant from the ODFW Fish Restoration and Enhancement Program.