Community talks about the future of fishing on Lake Tapps

Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn, met with residents and community leaders at a town hall meeting Sept. 25 to discuss the history and future of recreational fishing on Lake Tapps.

Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn, met with residents and community leaders at a town hall meeting Sept. 25 to discuss the history and future of recreational fishing on Lake Tapps.

Representatives from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) were in attendance, as well as several City Council members, club leaders and recreational fishers from the area.

Roach decided to host the meeting after reading a letter from community member Ken Castile. Castile’s letter detailed concerns that Lake Tapps isn’t fulfilling its potential as a recreational fishing spot.

“I fished here in the 60s and 70s … kids could go out and fish and get a bucketful of fish in a few hours but the lake was entirely different in those days,” Castile said. “This lake that we’ve got today is entirely different than the lake we had in 1998 for example. So we’ve got to take a look at the whole thing.”

The purpose of the meeting was to provide a forum for brainstorming, said Roach. No specific changes were on the agenda and everyone who chose to participate was given a chance to speak.

“My goal is to have a free flow of thoughts,” said Roach.

Many questions were addressed including those related to fish stock, catch limits, boater speed limits, invasive plants and the economic opportunities of improving recreational fishing on the lake.

The meeting began with introductions around the room and WDFW representatives presented a history of the lake. A 105-year-old stocking record was revealed, beginning with bass in 1904. Most recently, the tiger muskie was introduced almost yearly since 2000.

The purpose of introducing tiger muskie to the lake was to provide opportunity for recreational fish to thrive while the muskie preyed on less-desirable species. The WDFW reports that bass population seems to have gone up relative to muskie population.

However, the most recent analysis of the lake was in 1997. The lake was dominated by non-game fish at that time. Much has changed recently, as Castile pointed out in his letter. Lake Tapps is entirely different now than it was 15 years ago. Changes in the community have affected the water, plants and fish population in the lake.

The first step, said Roach, will be to provide an accurate and up-to-date analysis of Lake Tapps. WDFW will be conducting a scientific assessment as soon as possible, but an exact date is yet to be set.

Science aside, this will provide an excellent opportunity to engage the community, said Roach. School groups, youth clubs and scout troops could all benefit from participating in the week-long lake sampling. Once scientific evidence is gathered, community leaders will be able to form a plan for implementing changes the fishing community wishes to see at Lake Tapps.

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