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  • Rex Johnson

    Keith and all other interested parties,

    I am currently working with WDFW Fish Biologist Justin Spinelli on a proposal to WDFW to do a test lake using YY Chromosome modified fish. If all goes well, we will be starting this project this year. WDFW Biologist Bill Baker has been running an experiment out of Spokane now for a couple of years using YY modified fish and it has been educational with some positive signs. Doing these experiment is very time consuming and requires lots of hard work and patience. I have been giving updates at the Trail Blazer and Hi-Laker meetings, so that is a good place to ask more questions.


    Rex Johnson

    As a follow-up to Roger’s post, I have been working to get a project going here in Washington to use YY Chromosome modified EB’s to control over populated stunted EB’s in mountain lakes. The first order of business was to select target lakes and the most important characteristic of any experimental lake is access (besides having stunted fish). My basic principle in selecting any lake for an experiment is mainly access; you need to have easy access in order to get equipment, people, and whatever else you may need to the lake. Lonesome Lake was a good choice since you can drive within a hundred feet of the water. Little Gee Lake (Skagit County) was suggested by the lake sponsor, Kathy Cropp. It too has a long documented history of over populated reproducing and stunted EB’s plus you can drive right to the water. To resolve the problems with the over population and stunted Eastern brook in Lonesome and Little Gee lakes, we were hoping to use genetically modified eastern brook trout (YY chromosome). This technique is based on very promising recent studies using YY chromosome male Brook trout that have been done in Idaho, where Fish and Game researchers and hatchery staff collaborated on a project using a 50 year-old technology to develop a monosex fish population whose offspring can only produce males. The modified males have two YY chromosomes (YY) rather than the usual XY arrangement. Stocking YY-male hatchery fish into a body of water with an undesired fish population could change the sex ratio to all males within a few generations, and the unwanted fish population would eventually fail to reproduce and therefore die off. Once accomplished, Fish and Game managers could then restock that body of water with a more desirable fish species. This plan has many advantages especially low cost. I was able to get Tara Livingood-Schott (WDFW Fish Biologist) interested in this project.

    After extended conversations with the main Idaho Fish Biologist who spearheaded their YY chromosome project (Dan Schill), I asked WDFW management about starting a program here. To my surprise, I was told a program had already been started by WDFW Biologist Bill Baker in Spokane, so I contacted him. Bill was very helpful. He had already gotten some YY chromosome eggs and discussed the possibility of us getting some to use in our two lakes. Bill indicated that he was having to jump through a lot of red tape hoops, but that he was hopeful that YY chromosome modified fish could become the magic bullet to resolve our stunted lakes. Tara and I received word from WDFW upper management that they would consider a proposal so Tara and I wrote one for Lonesome Lake and submitted it in 2018. About the same time, I discussed the possibility of submitting a proposal to WDFW on Little Gee Lake with Biologist Justin Spinelli. We were trying to decide whether to join in with Tara on her proposal or write a new one for Little Gee when to our disappointment, the proposal for Lonesome Lake was turned down by WDFW. We suspect that a major factor was that a significant number of the YY chromosome eggs that Bill Baker’s group received, had died within the first month. We were told by WDFW management that maybe next year, they would reconsider. This put both Lonesome Lake and Little Gee on hold for 2018.

    However, Tara really did not want to give up getting an experiment going that would test at least one idea of resolving over populated and stunted EBs. It was at this point, Tara was informed on the availability of a quantity of Tiger trout, which brought up the idea of trying them on top of stunted Eastern brook. Since we already had a good candidate in Tara’s district, we discussed the logistics of using Lonesome Lake. Recognizing that it would be best to use Tiger trout as large as possible so that they would be capable of eating smaller brook trout as soon as the Tiger trout were stocked, this meant that at the earliest, it would be late October or early November before the Tiger trout were of adequate size. However, we could not guarantee access to Lonesome Lake at that time of year, so Tara decided to put this off until early next year. In 2019, we did stock both Lonesome Lake and Forest Lake (Forest Lake has an illegal population of Gold fish) with Tiger Trout. (See the post of this experiment and the need to do surveys.)

    I am still working on trying to get an experiment going using YY Chromosome EB, but the current Pandemic is a major problem now. Stay tuned for further developments.
    Rex Johnson

    in reply to: AP: Fish stocking in North Cascades lakes set to end #86543
    Rex Johnson

    Just saw this on Komo 4 web page. I sent Ken Schram a thank you email.
    Nothing’s fishy about trout policy
    by Ken Schram

    SEATTLE – – I take no joy or embarrassment from the following: I’ve never been fishing. Ever.

    Growing up in the Bronx just didn’t lend itself to the past time and I’ve never developed the inclination to try it.

    I mention this only because I’m stumped over the controversy of stocking trout in some alpine lakes in the North Cascades National Park.

    Seems some whacked out conservationists are on some purity streak about maintaining wilderness in its natural state.

    They don’t cotton to the idea of putting fish in lakes that don’t otherwise have fish.

    Never mind that stocking the lakes with trout that don’t reproduce has been going on for generations and that studies show there’s not a lick of ecological effects.

    But the National Park Service decided Congress should make a decision on whether to continue stocking.

    Congress didn’t, so now environmental purists are on their high horse saying they’ll kill any stocked trout put in any North Cascades lakes.

    Like I said, I’ve never been fishing, but for the life of me I don’t get the mean-spirited point of being an environmental butt-head toward folks who hurt nothing by making one of life’s simple pleasures available in one of the most beautiful areas on Earth.

    Have something to say to Ken? You can e-mail him at

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