Bertha May and Pothole Lake

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    • #116097
      Steve Watson
      Participant

      I didn’t have time for a long hike today so I hiked to Pothole Lake and Bertha May in Lewis County. I spent an hour at Bertha May trying a mix of lures and flies with no luck. The campers there had baited line in and said they had only caught 2 fish over the last day.

      On my way in I saw fish jumping at Pothole so on my way back I bushwhacked around that lake and after trying a few presentations to the surfacing fish I landed a chunky rainbow and then a chunky brook trout on a fly with a clear bobber. I caught these two very close to shore and they didn’t look like they’d be very large when I saw them surfacing. There were some much larger fish jumping in the middle of the lake.

      The stocking report on the WDFW website doesn’t say anything about brook’s being planted and the last stocking report was from 2003 for cutthroats. Could these fish have come down from Granite and Bertha May?

    • #116098
      Brian Curtis
      Keymaster

      The EB in Pothole are naturally reproducing. They were stocked in there every so often from the 30s through the 60s. EB don’t need running water to spawn so they are especially likely to become established in high lakes if they are stocked there.

      They also stocked Bertha May with EB in the 30s, but as far as I know, they are no longer there. Fortunately.

      As for the RB, I suppose it is possible it came down from Bertha May.

      • This reply was modified 4 months, 2 weeks ago by Brian Curtis.
    • #116100
      Steve Watson
      Participant

      Why do you say “fortunately” about them not being in Bertha May any more?

      • #116101
        Art Jackson
        Participant

        Why do you say “fortunately” about them not being in Bertha May any more?

        Because EB spawn so readily in conditions that other trout cannot, they have a tendency to over-proliferate lakes. There are numerous alpine lakes in the state with runaway populations of stunted EB – scrawny, pathetic snake-fish. This has occurred in a high percentage of alpine lakes where EB have been introduced, and it’s rare when the population dies out naturally. I think Brian was making a passing remark on EBs generally poor track record.

        There are plenty of examples of lakes overrun by stunted Westslope CT and some examples of stunted RB, but not nearly to the degree of EBs.

    • #116102
      Steve Watson
      Participant

      Thank you for the explanation. The EB I caught here was very healthy, but I’ve definitely seen the stunted EBs in other lakes.

    • #116103
      Steve Watson
      Participant

      This fish was caught in a different lake, but is this considered a stunted fish?

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    • #116105
      Brian Curtis
      Keymaster

      Yeah, that fish looks skinny so it likely comes from a lake with a stunted population.

      It is true that the EB in Pothole are healthy. As are the ones in Granite past Bertha May. But they are unusual in that regard. Fish end up stunted because they eat their way through all the available food in the lake. That in turn threatens some native amphibians and can even cause shifts in zooplankton populations.

      But even in lakes where the EB are not stunted any EB that can escape downstream pose a threat to native fish populations. If RB can drop down from Bertha May to Pothole it stands to reason that EB can likely fall out of Pothole and down to the Nisqually.

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