Can We Help Silver Lake?
I am no expert on Silver Lake.
This article contains information I gathered from WDFW
employees, long-time residents of the Silver Lake and Cowlitz
County area, and fisher folk that have fished there for 40+
Silver Lake bass fishing is not
what it used to be. In a nutshell, Silver Lake suffers from
water quality problems; blue-green algae, excessive phosphorous,
failing septic systems, possible stormwater pollution, an
adjacent landfill on the South, very little submerged
vegetation, and turbidity. No simple answer to the water quality
problem overall, so this article is about one problem; the lack
of former native submerged vegetation.
In 1990, WSU researchers
proposed the introduction of sterile grass carp
to control the excessive growth of non-native South American
waterweed and Eurasian watermilfoil in Silver Lake. In spring of
1992, WDFW released 83,000 triploid grass carp (8” – 10” long)
into the lake. Their life expectancy was 7 years in western WA.
In 1994, a WDFW-sanctioned
survey showed little, if any, submerged aquatic vegetation left
in the lake. Except for yellow waterlily (lily pads), bogbean
(buckbean), and watershield (dollar pads), most of the native
submerged aquatic vegetation was also eliminated. The grass carp
did their job (and then some) in just 2 years. The number of
carp to be stocked became a real controversy. Planting just
15,000 would have probably been adequate for the job. Today
they’re still swimming so the fish can evidently live 20+ years
in this lake.
It is currently
illegal to fish for or to retain grass carp from Silver Lake. WDFW does not want any of these carp transferred or taken
anywhere; dead or alive.
This summer however,
WDFW will hold several Grass Carp Fishing Derbies on Silver
Lake. These will be scheduled on consecutive weekends and are
open to the public. No one I have questioned, including WDFW,
has any idea how many grass carp still reside there. Locals
suggest there are still thousands and they average 10-20 lbs.
each. These fish can be caught on hook and line with bait;
frozen brussel sprouts, biscuit dough, watermelon, kidney beans,
and the pièce
de résistance, cherry
Bowfishing is also
being considered as an option to help remove these fish.
Bowfishing clubs hold tournaments and they may be some
assistance in this carp-removal project. By any method, WDFW
wants complete control of the catch / carcasses. No complaints
from this corner on that one.
The State of Missouri
has evidently had a grass carp problem for a while.
Washington and Oregon
have some of the best fisherman in the NW and maybe we
can help Silver Lake. Either as clubs and/or as individuals, we
and our families can participate in the derbies. The Mt St
Helens Bass club is considering one of these derbies for their
Jack n’ Jill fishing tournament in 2014.
carp fishermen are allowed to net common carp in Vancouver Lake.
This fall, WDFW may allow these commercial guys to also capture
grass and common carp from Silver Lake using trammel nets.
This article may
raise as many questions as answers. Feel free to contact me to
discuss. I will share more info on this as spring nears.
WA / OR TBF