Survey to determine grayling stock

Inland Northwest hikers don't have to travel any farther than North Idaho to make a cast for grayling.

The Idaho Fish and Game Department has been stocking the import species for decades in about seven high-mountain lakes in the Panhandle.

However, the stocking plan may change next year depending on results of a survey conducted this summer.

"Our grayling come from a naturally reproducing population in Wyoming," said Jim Fredericks, Panhandle Region fisheries manager. "The fish aren't available every year."

The high lakes are stocked every two to four years, if possible.

Golden trout are substituted in some of the grayling lakes when grayling are not available, said Ryan Hardy, department fisheries biologist.

"The verdict is still out on how we'll proceed with stocking depending on what we find in surveys and aging studies," he said. "We don't want to be putting grayling fry into lakes where they'll just be fish food for another species."

Here are Hardy's preliminary comments based on this summer's surveys on what he describes as "grayling/golden lakes" in the Panhandle.

-- Smith, (Cabinets, in Callahan Creek drainage), former cutthroat lake changed to stocking grayling in 1999.

-- Lower Glidden (Coeur d'Alene drainage), no grayling found; catchable rainbows may be outcompeting them. May stop stocking grayling.

-- Long Mountain (Selkirks), no fish found. Shallow lake; may have winter-killed. Grayling had been stocked until 2006, when goldens were stocked because grayling were not available. No decision yet on whether to continue grayling plants.

-- Little Ball (Selkirks), no grayling found; has small naturally reproducing cutthroat population. May stop stocking grayling.

-- Parker (Selkirks), golden trout replaced grayling plants in 1999.

-- Crater (St. Joe drainage), stocked only with grayling.

-- Forage (St. Joe drainage), golden trout stocked in 2006. Last plant of grayling was in 2003.

-- Dismal (St. Joe drainage), stocked only with grayling.

-- Steamboat (Little North Fork Clearwater drainage), high numbers of small grayling.