Catfish in the Pacific Northwest fishing realm get no respect, but that is changing as many are finding out these whiskered-faced fish put...

Share story

Catfish in the Pacific Northwest fishing realm get no respect, but that is changing as many are finding out these whiskered-faced fish put up a good battle and are great tasting.

“Channel catfish have been around our state for quite a while,” said Danny Garrett, the state Fish and Wildlife warm water fish biologist.

The first channel catfish were introduced to Washington in 1892, and are currently only known to naturally produce in the Snake, Columbia, Walla Walla and Yakima rivers.

State Fish and Wildlife doesn’t have any good stocking records of channel catfish before 1988, and there was some intermittent planting in mid-1990s. Stocking efforts were revamped in 1999, and then discontinued from 2006 to 2010.

“In 2011, we had a chunk of money and got some 8- to 11-inch channel catfish from an out-of-state supplier,” Garrett said. “We stocked around 51,000 fish statewide last year.”

“We know this stocking program can work under the right conditions,” Garrett said. “There is a lot of longevity to these fisheries, and they’re a quality long lived fish. We’re hopeful anglers will be reaping the rewards over the next 20 years.”

Growth samples collected from Fazon Lake in Whatcom County last October included some six-year-old fish in 20- to 24-inch range weighing 2 ½ to 5 pounds.

Locally, Green Lake in North Seattle got a hefty plant of 3,500 channel catfish, and should grow 12 to 15 inches in the next year, and will weigh 2 to 5 pounds.

“Those fish in Green Lake will be nice table fare very soon,” Garrett said.

In Eastern Washington the I-82 Ponds were planted, and growth of those fish is expected to be good since the water is fairly warm.

Places like the Potholes Reservoir and Sprague Lake received plants in 1999 and 2005, and were chosen by biologists again last year because both offer some of the best fishing opportunities.

Garrett says due to the financial crunch fisheries won’t conduct any stocking this year, but he’s hopeful to get funding every two or three years.

“It is hard for us to get a grasp on how these fish are doing, but I have placed survey boxes at Twin Lakes (aka Gissburg Ponds),” Garrett said. “Creel surveys are hard to do since some of the most productive fishing happens late at night.”

“We’ve got pictures and proof from sample collecting that they’re thriving,” Garrett said. “There have also been some really large channel catfish recently taken by anglers so we’re encouraged.”

A 28-pound channel catfish caught in Lacamas Lake last year caused a buzz, and according to Garrett that fish was about 18 to 20 years old.

The state channel catfish record is 36.20 pounds caught by Ross Kincaid in I-82 Pond Number 6 in Yakima County on Sept. 6, 1999.

Channel catfish stocked in 2011: Campbell Lake (Skagit County); Chambers Lake (Lewis); Fazon Lake (Whatcom); Gissburg Ponds (Snohomish); Green Lake (King); I-82 Ponds Number 1, 2, 3, 4, 6 and 7 (Yakima); Kress Lake (Cowlitz); Lawrence Lake (Thurston); Liberty Lake (Spokane); McCabe Pond (Kittitas); Potholes Reservoir (Grant); Powerline Pond (Snohomish); Rotary Lake (Yakima); Sarge Hubbard Pond (Yakima); Scootney Reservoir (Franklin); Sprague Lake (Lincoln); Stan Coffin Lake (Grant); Swofford Pond (Lewis); St.Clair (Thurston); and Terrell Lake (Whatcom).

Channel catfish stocked since 1996:Campbell Lake (Skagit County); Columbia Park Lagoon (Benton); Cow Lake (Adams); Ephrata Park Pond (Grant); Fazon Lake (Whatcom); Frenchman Hills Lake (Grant); Gissberg ponds (Snohomish); Green Lake (King); Harts Lake (Pierce); Hummel Lake (San Juan); I-82 Ponds (Yakima); Kress Lake (Cowlitz); Lower Goose Lake (Grant); McCabe Pond (Kittitas); Potholes Reservoir (Grant); Rock Island Ponds Number 2 and 4 (Douglas); Roses Lake (Chelan); Rotary Lake (Yakima); Scooteney Reservoir (Franklin); Sprague Lake (Adams/Lincoln); Stan Coffin Lake (Grant); Swofford Pond (Lewis); Terrell Lake (Whatcom); Washburn Island Pond (Okanogan); Wenas Lake (Yakima); Whitestone Lake (Okanogan); Winchester Lake (Grant).

Notes

• The freeskiing movie “Superheroes of Stoke” is 6:30 p.m. Sept. 15 at McCaw Hall, 321 Mercer St. in Seattle.

The film produced by Matchstick Productions features Salomon Mountain Sports Company athletes Cody Townsend and Mark Abma. Cost is $15. Details: www.skimovie.com.

• Many Puget Sound areas will close to Dungeness crab fishing on Labor Day, except for the San Juan Islands which is open through Sept. 30. Anglers in those two areas after Monday must record their catch on winter catch record cards. Winter cards are free to those with crab endorsements at sporting good stores and other license vendors. All anglers are required to submit summer catch reports by Oct. 1. Mail to WDFW CRC Unit, 600 Capitol Way N., Olympia, WA 98501-1091 or online at http://bit.ly/WkXeA. Those who fail to report will face a $10 fine when they purchase a 2013 Puget Sound crab endorsement. Winter crab seasons for Puget Sound will be announced in early October.

• The Coastal Conservation Association Sea-Tac Chapter meeting is 7 p.m.-8:30 p.m. Tuesday at the IBEW Hall, 19802 62nd Ave. South in Kent. Guest speaker is fishing guide Bruce Warren who will tips on how to target and land river run chinook, coho and winter run steelhead. Details: efedder@hotmail.com.

• The Bellevue-Issaquah Chapter of Trout Unlimited’s Kokanee Work Group needs volunteers to report spawning kokanee salmon this fall in creeks feeding into Lake Sammamish.

Volunteers will survey creek sections once a week during the spawning season from October through January. Fish Biologist, Hans Berge will make a presentation at a public meeting of Trout Unlimited at the Issaquah Brew Pub (across the street from the Issaquah Library) 7 p.m. on Sept. 12.

Berge will talk about plans and actions to restore the threatened kokanee population in Lake Sammamish. Berge will be available to answer questions about counting spawners and the training to be offered in late September. Details: www.tu-bi.org.

• The Puget Sound Anglers Sno-King Chapter Edmonds Coho Derby is Saturday. Details: www.edmondscohoderby.com.

• The free Sturgeon Festival is 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sept. 15 at the Water Resources Education Center, 4600 S.E. Columbia Way in Vancouver. The festival is hosted by the City of Vancouver, with participation by state Fish and Wildlife. The event includes entertaining and educational activities for all ages. Special events include Creature Feature Reptile Zoo. In addition, teens and adults will have an opportunity to learn about recycling, watershed stewardship, and sturgeon anatomy. They will also have a chance to discuss environmental issues and career opportunities with staff from natural resource agencies and environmental organizations. The sturgeon is a primitive fish that dates back to the Jurassic period. They are long-lived growing 5 to 6 feet in length at maturity. A few sturgeon in the Columbia River have been confirmed to be more than 100 years old and up to 12 to 15 feet in length.

• As we head into one of the longest dry spells, campers and recreationists are reminded to use extreme caution when starting campfires. Those who start forest fires, either intentionally or by negligence, could be fined heavily for the costs. While many forest areas have burn bans in effect, there are some places where campfires are still allowed.

Here are some guidelines to follow in places where they are allowed: Always abide by local campfire laws; only adults should build and maintain campfires; never leave a campfire unattended; an ideal campfires spot is a shady spot away from dry logs, branches, bushes, needles or leaves; make sure there are no overhanging tree branches near the fire; use existing fire-rings whenever possible; keep campfires small and use wood no bigger than the ring; keep tents and other burnable materials away from the fire; drown the campfire with water and stir charred material; and when leaving, make sure your fire is completely out. Very carefully feel all sticks and charred remains. Feel the coals and ashes. Details: www.smokeybear.com/campfire-safety.asp.

• The state Department of Natural Resources has reopened the Ahtanum Meadows and Ahtanum Campgrounds. Campers can access them by the North Fork Ahtanum Road. These sites were closed during the Diamond Butte fire. The Middle Fork Road, which accesses Tree Phones Campground and Whites Ridge Trailhead, will continue to be closed during the week, but will reopen from 6 p.m. Friday through Sunday at 8 p.m. (closed on Labor Day).

• The public is invited to the dedication of the Admiralty Head Lighthouse lantern house 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sept. 8 at Fort Casey State Park on Whidbey Island. The lantern house was constructed as a two-year, student-led project by three Whidbey Island high schools. Details: www.facebook.com/WashingtonStateParks.

• The Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance is hosting the Evergreen Enduro Mountain Bike Race at Tiger Mountain 10 a.m. on Sept. 22. Cost is $40 to $60. The race includes three timed downhill sections and two untimed uphill sections. Categories are pro/open, sport and novice with age groups ranging from teens to masters. Details: www.evergreenmtb.org.

• The public is invited to the third annual Discover Lake Sylvia Fall Festival — a Centennial 2013 event 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sept. 15 at Lake Sylvia State Park, 1812 Lake Sylvia Road at Montesano in Grays Harbor County. There will be a breakfast, music, art show hike, farmer’s market, triathlon, Dutch oven cooking demos and children’s activities. A Discover Pass is required for vehicles. Details: www.facebook.com/LakeSylviaSateParkFallFestival.

• The Bellevue-Issaquah Chapter of Trout Unlimited’s Kokanee Work Group needs volunteers to report spawning kokanee salmon this fall in creeks feeding into Lake Sammamish. Volunteers will survey creek sections once a week during the spawning season from October through January. Fish Biologist, Hans Berge will make a presentation at a public meeting of Trout Unlimited 7 p.m. Sept. 12 at the Issaquah Brew Pub (across the street from the Issaquah Library). Berge will talk about plans and actions to restore the threatened kokanee population in Lake Sammamish. Berge will be available to answer questions about counting spawners and the training to be offered in late September. Details: www.tu-bi.org.

• The Northshore Trout Unlimited meeting is the second Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. at the Shoreline-Lake Forest Park Senior Center, 18560 1st Ave. NE in Shoreline. Details: http://northshoretu.blogspot.com.

• The Issaquah Alps Trails Club holds weekly hikes and meets in downtown Issaquah. Details: www.issaquahalps.org.

• The Washington Trails Association offers statewide trip reports and trail conditions. Details: www.wta.org.

• The Seattle Audubon Society offers field trips and classes every month. Details: 206-523-4483 or www.seattleaudubon.org.

• The Western Bass Club meets every third Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Kennydale Hall in Renton. Details: www.westernbassclub.comor www.nickbarrfishing.com.

• The new nonprofit Cascade Musky Association is looking for members. Cost is $25 or $35 for a couple/family membership. Details: www.cascademuskyassociation.com or www.wafish.com.

Mark Yuasa: 206-464-8780 or myuasa@seattletimes.com