A creel evaluation was conducted in Lake Scanewa, a reservoir on the Cowlitz River, to monitor catch rates of rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) and determine if the trout fishery was having negative impacts on juvenile anadromous salmon (Oncorhynchus spp.) in the system. The trout fishery, which is supported by releases of 20,000 fish (2 fish per pound) per year from June to August, was developed to mitigate for the construction of the Cowlitz Falls Dam in 1994. The trout fishery has a target catch rate of at least 0.50 fish per hour. Interviews with 1,214 anglers during the creel evaluation found that most anglers targeted rainbow trout (52 percent) or Chinook and coho salmon (48 percent). The interviewed anglers caught a total of 1,866 fish, most of which were rainbow trout (1,213 fish; 78 percent) or coho salmon (311 fish; 20 percent). We estimated that anglers spent 17,365 hours fishing in Lake Scanewa from June to November 2010. Catch rates for boat anglers (1.39 fish per hour) exceeded the 0.50 fish per hour target, whereas catch rates for shore anglers (0.35 fish per hour) fell short of the goal. The combined catch rates for all trout anglers in the reservoir were 0.96 fish per hour. We estimated that anglers harvested 7,584 (95 percent confidence interval = 2,795-12,372 fish) rainbow trout during the study period and boat anglers caught more fish than shore anglers (5,975 and 1,609 fish, respectively). This estimate suggests that more than 12,000 of the 20,000 rainbow trout released into Lake Scanewa during 2010 were not harvested, and could negatively impact juvenile salmon in the reservoir through predation or competition. We examined 1,236 stomach samples from rainbow trout and found that 2.1 percent (26 fish) of these samples contained juvenile fish. Large trout (greater than 300 millimeters) had a higher incidence of predation than small trout (less than 300 millimeters; 8.50 and 0.06 percent, respectively). A total of 39 fish were found in rainbow trout stomachs and 13 (33 percent) of these were juvenile salmon. These data and uncertainties associated with movement patterns and survival rates of rainbow trout in Lake Scanewa suggest that future evaluations would be helpful to better understand the potential effects of the mitigation trout fishery on juvenile salmon in the reservoir.
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Evaluation of angler effort and harvest of rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss), Lake Scanewa, Washington, 2010