Non-native Fish Species Management at McAlester Lake

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Date: July 5, 2016
Contact: Denise Shultz

In an effort to protect native cutthroat trout from hybridization and competition with non-native fish, North Cascades National Park Service Complex (NOCA) will conduct intensive fish and habitat surveys to determine the best options for the removal of non-native rainbow and rainbow/cutthroat hybrid trout from McAlester Lake. These surveys are scheduled to begin this August. Following the surveys and for the next two years, the park will deploy gillnets in the lake on a monthly basis from July through October. Throughout all of these activities, McAlester Lake will remain open for recreation.

"The work proposed at McAlester Lake will employ the adaptive management concepts outlined in the Mountain Lakes Fishery Management Plan and comply with the NOCA Fish Stocking Act," said Aquatics Biologist Ashley Rawhouser. "In partnership with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, McAlester Lake will be restocked with fish native to the watershed at lower numbers to create a better fishing opportunity and greatly reduce the risk to native amphibian and fish communities." 

Rainbow trout were stocked in McAlester Lake in 1942 and are a non-native fish species in the Stehekin and Bridge Creek watersheds. Since their initial introduction, these fish have established a breeding population that migrate downstream and hybridize with the native Westslope cutthroat. The park's long-term goal for McAlester Lake is to remove the threat posed by non-native fish species and restock the lake with Westslope cutthroat trout that are native to the drainage. Park staff will test the effectiveness of using gillnets to remove the non-native fish for three years.

Last updated: July 7, 2016

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