Stocking of trout in several lower elevation upland forest lakes here was recently done by members of the Whatcom Chapter of the Backcountry Horsemen of Washington.
Under the direction of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, BCHW members using their pack animals this fall carried prescribed numbers of coastal cutthroat (a native species) fingerlings into three lakes, Cedar, Pine and Lost, all in the Chuckanuts. The trout for these waters were hatched and raised at Kendall Creek Hatchery.
The club's volunteer commitment to pack fish into backcountry lakes and beaver ponds dates back more than two decades, with this year's stocking was by club members Rocky Leavitt, Walden Haines, Becky Haines, Bill McKenna, Roger Nelson, Roy Van Diest and Joelle Peters. In addition to the Chuckanut waters, BCHW rider visits have brought trout, under department direction, to Bear, Lizard and Lilypad lakes plus several beaver ponds on the Edfro Bench in the South Fork Valley where the group maintains riding trails on county, state and private lands.
Lands surrounding Cedar and Pine lakes are owned by the fish and wildlife department and waters are managed by the agency to provide hike-in fisheries for area anglers. Open for fishing year-round, they are accessed by a trail maintained by the Whatcom Parks and Recreation Department.
Lost Lake, located on state parks and recreation commission land inside Larrabee State Park is stocked periodically with the consent of state parks officials also to provide lowland forest fishing opportunities accessed on foot.
Larrabee Manager Paul McEvers said that under state fishing regulations anglers are welcome year-round to visit the park, hike in via its trails and fish Lost and another permanent lake, Fragrance, located on park grounds.
Discover Passes (costing $30 annually), which pay for state parks and recreation department operations, are required to drive motor vehicles onto park lands.
Both waters can be accessed by namesake trails, the Fragrance Lake route (just over 2.5 miles) starting at a parking area on Chuckanut Drive (State Route 11) across from the north main park entrance to the campground.
The Lost Lake combined route (about 3.5 miles) takes off from a service road, the old Hiline-Cleator loop road now going by the name Fragrance Lake Road, which starts from the south main park entrance opposite the Clayton Beach Trailhead.
There are several alternate approach pathways to these waters that are detailed on a number of maps as well as the state parks department webpage for Larrabee at http://www.parks.wa.gov/parks/?selectedpark=Larrabee&subject=all.
STEELHEADERS TO HOLD BANQUET
The Northwest Washington Steelheaders, an independent Whatcom County sportsmen's group, have tentatively set Saturday, March 9, for their 2013 fundraiser banquet and auction.
With 50,000 mouths to feed through the winter for release this spring, the club is seeking to bolster its coffers so it can make additional steelhead rearing commitments for next year.
Some proceeds of their annual fundraising efforts also go to providing prizes and refreshments for the Bellingham Kids' Fishing Derby, a tradition dating back to the 1950s that's held in early May each year at Whatcom Falls Park.
Organizing a banquet and auction is an all-volunteer effort for this group, and its board, many of whom are long-standing members, decided to take a break from it this past year.
The club's underwriting of some 50,000 hatchery winter-run juveniles each year constitutes about 45 percent of the total number of marked steelhead smolts released into the Nooksack by the fish and wildlife department. The group also has sought to further increase its annual commitment.
While at the club's McKinnon Pond facility, the young steelhead are fed and the pond is maintained by students from Mount Baker High School's natural resources classes, as part of their course of study, under the supervision of long-time Mount Baker instructor Todd Rightmire.
Club members also participate in the rearing of the fish and the annual upkeep of the pond and its water supply.
Information about making donations of goods and services for the silent and live auctions as well as banquet ticket sales will be available soon.
Doug Huddle, the Bellingham Herald's outdoors correspondent, since 1983, has written a weekly fishing and hunting column that now appears Sundays. Read his blog and contact him at http//pblogs.bellinghamherald.com/outdoor.