Sunday, April 25, 2010

Rattlesnake Lake Report and Controversy

Rattlesnake Lake, off of Exit 32 in North Bend can be a really exciting fishery.  On a good evening you can catch fish after fish on a dry fly when a mayfly hatch is going off.  Its also a local favorite fishing hole.  Over the years that I've fished there I've seen more and more fly fishermen until now it is almost ALL fly fishermen.  They are attracted by the beautiful scenery, the insect hatches, and the occasional large triploid trout that get put in there.

In a very exciting (but controversial) development, the regulations for Rattlesnake have changed from a seasonal "put-n-take" fishing hole to year-round catch-and-release fishery.  Like any change, this one too has its cheerleaders and its detractors.

From the cheerleaders: Designating a fishery as catch-and-release vastly decreases fish mortality (of course) allowing the fish to get larger (and smarter).  Also, it costs the state a lot less, because it doesn't need to get stocked as often.  Lastly, there is not a single catch-and-release lake in all of King County, which has millions of people.  Surely we can afford ONE?  That still leaves hundreds of put-n-take lakes in the County, many of which are year round also!

Rebuttal from the detractors: North Bend has exactly ONE public lake in which you can fish.  Now it is off-limits to those would bait fish (kids, kids at heart, etc).  Try telling the bait fishermen who lives in the neighborhood next to Rattlesnake Lake that he now has to drive 30 minutes (each way) to fish. 

I'm not going to offer an opinion on this one; there are merits to both sets of arguments.

On the 4/25, I fished the lake during the evening hours with about 40 other fly fisherman and a few spin fisherman.  There was a nice midge hatch going on and the smaller fish were rising everywhere.  I fished a mayfly pattern on the top and caught six fish; all very small and agressive. I bet Amy would have caught 24. LOL.

I beached the jon boat to go home around 7:30pm.  There was a game warden there who was just chatting with people as they came out of the water.  Two guys starting telling him what they thought of the new regulations (not in a good way). 

"I've fished here for 20 years and never had a problem catching fish!" yelled one guy.  I'm not sure what his point was but he sounded angry.  The other guy said "Some fly-fishermen snuck this change through with no public comment!"  (I don't know the veracity of that statement).  Then they got their stuff and left.

After a few more minutes, another, younger, guy beaches his craft, and approaches the game warden and warmly says "So the lake is being managed for larger trout now, yes?"

I felt bad for the Game Warden; it wasn't his decision and he'll likely be the one having to give out the tickets and all the bad news to people who disagree with the new policy.

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