Rufus Anything But Dead

Dissolved-gas-laden river flows croaked over half of the 2.7 million trout in commercial netpens on Rufus Woods Lake in late May, but it appears that a fairly large number managed to escape when the weight of their dearly departed friends and families against the mesh moved the pens off their moorings.

The Colville Tribes were also able to release their broodstock redband rainbows beforehand.

And now they are all hungry.

Very, very, very hungry.

In fact, it’s rather amazing that Bill Herzog and his son River were able to return from their trip there Wednesday with all their fingers and toes.

Rufus Woods near the Timm Ranch was “boiling” with trout, Herzog reported to Joel Shangle, his cohost on Northwest Wild Country Radio.

“It’s spec-#@$%@$-tacular,” Herzog said in a voice mail left on Shangle’s phone.

The duo were able to hook fish from 6 to 10 pounds “at will.”

Their biggest was an 18-pounder.

“He said it looks like ‘a @#$!# halibut,'” said Shangle.

BILL HERZOG'S RUFUS WOODS HALIBUT, ERR, RAINBOW. (RIVER HERZOG)

Even better, on Wednesday morning, it was just a boy and his pa all alone, wailing on fish.

“It’s happening, my friend,” said Herzog. “It’s not dead.”

There are fears that with continued high spills out of Grand Coulee and a handful of turbines there still offline, high levels of gasses will remain in the system for at least another week and a half. A pointman for the company that owns the netpen operation has worried that the flows will “sterilize” the reservoir.

I checked with the state game warden for that reach of the Columbia. His report is that the fishing’s good — way too good for some greedheads.

“There are overlimits leaving by the coolerful,” said Sgt. Jim Brown of the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife on Thursday morning. “We’ve gotta spend some time now writing tickets. It’s got the potential to be a good summer fishery, but the pigs come and clean it out.”

The daily limit is two trout.

So what should you use?

“Zog says that they hooked small fish on hardware (squid, etc.), but all the bigger fish wanted bait: nightcrawlers, Fire Bait, etc,” says Shangle.

If you want to have max fun, do like Brown suggests and fish selectively — flies, spinners, spoons, whatever, just nothing slathered with bait or scent. That way you can catch and release till the cows come home.

Per WDFW’s 2011 fishing prospects:
On the open waters of Rufus Woods or within Designated Fishing Areas, which are located and marked on the Colville  Reservation shoreline, either a Tribal permit or State license shall be acceptable.  A State license is required when fishing from the Douglas County shoreline; a tribal fishing permit is required when fishing from shore on tribal lands..  Boating access is good with launch sites at Bridgeport  State Park, the Army Corps of Engineers’ site upstream of Chief Joseph Dam, and at Seaton’s Grove two miles downstream from Elmer City.
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