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December 17, 2007
Contact: Dennis Beich, WDFW, 509-754-4624 Ext. 19
Joe Peone, CCT, 509-634-2113

New state-tribal agreement could
boost Rufus Woods Lake fishing

OLYMPIA – Anglers could gain additional fishing access to Rufus Woods Lake on the Colville Confederated Tribes (CCT) reservation under a pilot project agreement signed today by Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and tribal officials.

If legislative funding for the project is approved, the agreement would allow non-tribal anglers to fish with either a Washington state fishing license or a Colville tribal fishing permit while they are fishing from a boat or from one of three proposed fishing access areas on the reservation. Under the agreement, non-tribal anglers fishing in non-designated, undeveloped areas within the reservation must carry a tribal fishing permit. All non-tribal anglers fishing with a Colville tribal fishing permit also must carry a Colville transport permit if catch is going to be taken off the reservation.

Rufus Woods Lake is a 51-mile-long, 7,800-acre reservoir on the upper Columbia River, created by Chief Joseph Dam. It forms the boundary between Douglas and Okanogan counties in North Central Washington, and the southern boundary of the Colville Indian Reservation. Open year-round, Rufus Woods Lake provides fishing for walleye, kokanee, and triploid rainbow trout. The state’s last three record rainbows were caught in the lake.

“Rufus Woods has become a high-quality fishery, and angler interest in the lake has increased substantially over the last seven years,� said WDFW North Central Regional Director Dennis Beich. “But access to the lake is primarily limited to two public boat ramps at either end. If funding is provided by the Legislature, up to three designated fishing access areas will be developed along the center of the lake’s north shore on the Colville Indian Reservation.�

The boundary of the Colville reservation is the center of the Columbia River bed, however determining and enforcing the actual boundary is difficult because the river has been inundated by dams, said Joe Peone, director of the CCT Fish and Wildlife Department. Through various agreements over the past 15 years, non-tribal anglers have been required to hold both a Colville tribal fishing permit and a Washington state fishing license when fishing Rufus Woods and Lake Roosevelt.

“This agreement is the product of a lot of hard work by both the Colville Tribes and WDFW to better serve the public who have come to regard Lake Rufus Woods as one of the premier fishing locations in the state,� said Peone. “The Colville Tribes have put a great deal of effort into developing and managing this fishery, and we are pleased to have worked out a good agreement with the state. We believe it is something that the Legislature can support as a genuine public benefit.�

WDFW Director Jeff Koenings applauded the cooperative effort.

“We greatly appreciate the Colville Tribes working with us to both simplify fishing license requirements and improve access to the lake,� Koenings said. “Increased access is important to future fishing and hunting opportunities throughout Washington state. This agreement is a good example of how we can work together to increase recreational opportunities for our citizens.�

WDFW will request $423,000 from the Legislature to fund the first year of the project, and will submit additional requests over the next four years.

Pending legislative funding, new fishing access areas will be developed over the next five years. Limited access could be available as early as 2008, with additional capital funding in future years for complete development of shoreline docks, boat ramps, restrooms and camping facilities.

The agreement also provides for increased WDFW and CCT enforcement and fish management staff in the area, including portions of the upper Columbia River’s Wells Pool and the Okanogan River, and provides additional fish stocking for Rufus Woods Lake.

The agreement is the result of several years of negotiation, and has recently gained impetus from the Governor’s Columbia River Water Management Program (CRWMP), which is developing additional Columbia River water supplies for irrigation and other purposes, including fishery needs. The agreement will be in effect and monitored for five years. If goals are being reached and both parties agree, it will be automatically renewed for an additional five years.nner. Mallard flank is similar to schrapplen, but is a bit stiffer in it's webbyness and opens up a bit more than schrapplen. Then you have guinea hackle feather which is a very stiff feather and pretty much stays open in all but the fastest currents. Plus I just think it's a cool looking feather, weather dyed or natural. There are many, many, more materials out there but these are some of my favorites. I'm also very partial to just a yarn tail jig w/some chenille wound forward...
Hope this helps, if you have any questions feel free to ask or just pm me...
Mark
 

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So, if you are fishing in a boat or at one of the designated/improved areas, and you want to take fish home, OK. If you are at a non designated/improved area you will need the tribal permit AND a transport permit. I wonder if the net pens will be a designated area...
 

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Does the tribe intentionally release trips into the river in that area, or is it based on accidental release? The way I see it, Rufus Woods' access being somewhat primitive is the reason it's such a good fishery. There's not a good camping area, a run down outhouse is all that is there as far as restrooms go, and it's kind of hard to find if you haven't been there before. If they build campgrounds and facilites, with the onslaught of people that will come...and they will come, it won't take long to deplete what was (is) one of the finest fishing areas for trout in the state. I've only been there once and I liked the fact it was primitive. People will come from all over the country to fish this area if it gets developed. Nothing good last forever. Now if they DO release fish regularly, my post was for not...anyone know?
 

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I don't know for sure, (so anything is possible!) but I would think triploids are released regularly. They can be found throughout the lake. At least I've seen reports from both ends. The concentration at the net pens is because of the steady food supply. I agree, primative facilities is good for crowd control, but the word is already out.
 

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The state plants fish. The tribe just waits for a net to rip and self release.

The tribe has really missed an economic opportunity here. They could erect a slew of small cabins up and down the river near the pens and have them rented out most of the year. Open a restarant or two . It's beautiful area.
 

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That's a great idea Elvis! The agreement has been signed, but the funds aren't approved yet. You might still see those cabins.
 

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while everybody waits for state funds to released and upgrades to be done, there is a very good rv camp site off the bridge port end or the chief joephs dam of the 30 mile or so strech of river.
 

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I'm pretty sure that our Tribe does buy and release triploids into Rufus, we also have a fish hatchery below Chief Joe.
Here's a few links and articles of misc information.

I found this link interesting, especially when they mention that a google search provided lots of anglers stories and helpful photos of the area.
http://www.nwcouncil.org/library/isrp/isrp2007-13.pdf

I think this link was for a proposed budgeting for 2008-2011, and it looked like they were planning on buying 50,000 triploids each year for planting to inhance the fisheries.
http://www.cbfwa.org/mods/components/fo ... tion=final

And in this arcticle it mentions that they have been releasing triploids for years.

Plan would make it easier to fish Lake Rufus Woods
RICH LANDERS; The Spokesman-Review Published: January 3rd, 2008 01:00 AM

After 10 months of negotiations, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife recently signed a tentative agreement with the Colville Confederated Tribes that could lead to more developed fishing access, docks and even more campgrounds along Lake Rufus Woods, a 7,800-acre Columbia River reservoir.
The agreement also could end long-standing confusion over fishing license requirements. The future of the pact, however, depends on funding from the Washington Legislature.

Rufus Woods, which forms the southern boundary of the Colville Reservation, has generated increasing interest in the seven years since anglers began catching state-record rainbows, said Dennis Beich, Fish and Wildlife’s North Central Region director in Ephrata.

Except for a few primitive launching options, developed boat access is limited to two public launches at either end of the reservoir, which extends 51 miles from Chief Joseph Dam upstream to Grand Coulee Dam.

“If funding is provided by the Legislature, up to three designated fishing access areas will be developed along the center of the lake’s north shore on the Colville Indian Reservation,� Beich said.

The department is requesting $423,000 from the Legislature to fund the first year of the project. Additional requests are planned for the following four years.

The Colvilles would manage the access sites, but details have not been worked out on whether fees would be charged, Beich said.

The agreement also provides for increased state and tribal enforcement and fish management staff in the area, including portions of the upper Columbia River’s Wells Pool and the Okanogan River, and provides additional fish stocking for Rufus Woods Lake.

The tribe has been stocking Rufus Woods with triploid rainbows for years. Some of the best trout fishing is concentrated in the central part of Rufus Woods near commercial net-pen rainbow operations. The last three state records were caught in that area, including the current 29.6-pound record landed in 2002.

More significant is the agreement’s attempt to clarify the fishing license requirements for this stretch of water that borders the Colville Reservation.

“We’ve never really agreed with the state regarding licenses,� said Joe Peone, the tribe’s fish and wildlife department director.

The tribe claims treaty rights to fishing the north half the Columbia River bordering the reservation.

“But we haven’t been enforcing that,� Peone said, noting that anglers fishing the boundary waters from boats have needed only a state fishing license.

However, anglers fishing from shore on the reservation must have a tribal fishing permit in addition to a state fishing license, said Henry Hicks, Colville Tribe recreation ranger.

The new agreement, if funded by the Legislature, would allow anglers to fish those waters from boats or new designated access areas on shore with either a state or a tribal license.

The agreement applies only to Lake Rufus Woods and does not affect reservation boundary waters upstream in Lake Roosevelt.
 

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I feel like the easier you make it for people and only require them to have 1 license, is only going to make it crowded and less productive, when they do that you are going to see every guy and his dog and mom and on and on in Okanogan county and all of Washington and Idaho for that matter, I sure hope we dont see a bunch of campgrounds and cabins put up, it will just make it less appealing to me, I just dont feel every body of water needs cabins easy access campgrounds and resort areas, Im not trying to offend anyone Im just not real pumped about the idea of seeing way more people when im fishing its just my 2cents.
 

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There is some real good trout fishing on the Columbia that very few people know about. It's been there for quite a few years now. I find that concentrating the meat fishermen in a few areas keeps these nice quiet fisheries wide open. If the tribe drops in a few more pens they could spread out the fishery even more. Right now it goes at least 10 miles in each direction.
The more people we can get fishing the better off fishing will be IMHO. If the word gets out to more people that Big Billy can take Little Billy out and have a shot at a legitimate 10+lb trout from shore for the cost of a licsense and gas I think we all win in the long run. That river can hold millions of big trout but of course that means it has to be managed correctly. A private company working a contract with the tribes is the better option.
 
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