Sept 4 Last weekday office opening, Saturday's only after this
Oct 31 Fishing season closes

Water Status - after a dry spring, we got a large/wet snowstorm on May 18, with more than 36" of snow! This allowed us to fill all the lakes and enter summer in good shape. We hope to be able to run water again in July and top off a few of the lakes in preparation for running water this fall.

Fishing Member meeting - On Saturday, June 24th, we held a meeting for fishing members, which was attended by about 20 members and most of the S&I Board. Most of the member questions were about fish stocking, Nokomis and Shagwa. The answers to these and other updates are as follows.

Shagwa, please refer to the Shagwa Lake summary after this article.

Nokomis, the new regulations that went into effect at Nokomis Lake in 2016 were a result of input from our members during the 2015 season. This year, we began a fisherman survey at Nokomis and Apache to compare data to determine the effectiveness of the new regulations in reaching our goal of creating something similar to a gold medal sport fishery. Since both lakes are similar in location, fish diversity (including a perch population), and fishing access; the board felt Apache would provide the best source of data to compare to data from Nokomis. A summary of the data collected from the surveys completed through mid-June is as follows:

Lake Trout Kept 20+" Trout Caught Perch Caught
Apache 71 26 48
Nokomis 3 38 7

We will continue to collect data from fish surveys throughout the year and encourage members to help increase the sample size by filling out a survey after each day of fishing.

Members were updated on our current construction projects, the major project will be the installation of a buried pipeline to improve the delivery of water from the end of the concrete ditch below Ramona to the Snake/Letitia diversion.

We have three patrolmen covering our lakes seven days a week and have seen an increase in violations this year. Poaching by non-members and incorrect use of guest passes are the most common. The board encourages members observing violations to report the problem to one of the patrolmen. The patrolmen's cell phone numbers are on the back of the fishing badges.

The board is considering a dues increase for the 2018 season and possibly an increase to guest passes. It's been 10 years since the last increase and between inflation (up 22%), upcoming increases in wages for our employees (44% from 2017-2020), the increasing cost of fish (up 45%), and future projects; a dues increase will be necessary.

Our stocking program consists of stocking catchable trout 12"-16" and trophy trout 17" plus, three times per year. Stocking is completed prior to the opening of fishing (weather permitting), later-June, and late September - early October (water levels permitting). The majority of our trout are rainbow, we do stock brook, brown, cutbow and cutthroat as available. In addition, we stock walleye in Apache during the fall of even numbered years as a biological control of the perch population. We also stock grass carp to control the weed growth in all lakes which has resulted in the use of less chemical mitigation to control weed growth.

Palomino Rainbow Trout

Fishing Status - we had very good fishing at all the lakes these first two months of the season. We completed our second stocking of all the lakes in June. Fishermen have been catching the Palomino trout we stocked at Nokomis and Letitia. Our fish supplier, Crystal Springs Trout Farm is experimenting with raising Yellow Rainbow (Palomino) trout. The Palomino are a hybrid rainbow trout that are not a Golden Trout. By genetic cross-breeding of rainbows; the Palomino colors will range from light green to yellow. The Palomino grow as fast as regular rainbow and seem to be more disease resistant. If fishing member feedback is positive, next year's stocking will include additional Palominos with a uniform yellow color.

Shagwa - remains closed as we investigate the source(s) of sewage pollution that makes it difficult to sustain a fishery. Last year we sampled water quality at 5 locations throughout the summer and observed that the pollution increases during the summer, indicating that increased cabin usage is a factor. Last fall we retained the services of Farnsworth Group to investigate the hydrogeology of the area and provide recommendations on a path forward. They met with about 25 of the 70 neighbors in the Shagwa drainage to better understand the water/sewage solutions. We decided that for 2017 we needed to drain the lake to inspect the below water biomass and to take core samples around the edges of the lake. Some of the core sample holes are configured for us to sample the ground water and understand more about water quality by location. We'll trench the west side of Shagwa to better observe the quality of the water that naturally seeps into the lake. And we'll continue reaching out to nearby property owners to learn more about all the water/sewage systems surrounding the lake.

While our next steps are still to be determined and finalized, we'll likely look at dredging part of the lake to improve the depth so that the fish aren't so easily trapped in low oxygen areas of the lake, especially during high oxygen consumption events such as algae blooms. If we can determine any "failing" sewage systems we'll work with that property owner to correct the problems. That said, there's no getting around the issue of sewage from all the houses entering the ground water and making its way to the lake. And for that reason, we'll have to implement a large aeration system.

It will be optimistic if we can bring a detailed plan together by this fall, but this doesn't change our objective to improve the water quality of the lake and restore the fishery. More details and background information on Shagwa.