Tiger trout destined for Phillips Reservoir

By Dick Mason, The Observer August 12, 2011 08:43 pm

PHILLIPS RESERVOIR will soon be home to tiger trout. The trout are being raised at Klamath Hatchery in Chiloquin near Klamath Falls. S. JOHN COLLINS / Wescom News Service
PHILLIPS RESERVOIR will soon be home to tiger trout. The trout are being raised at Klamath Hatchery in Chiloquin near Klamath Falls. S. JOHN COLLINS / Wescom News Service

A red-letter moment in Eastern Oregon outdoor history is fast approaching.

Three thousand six-inch tiger trout will be introduced into Phillips Reservoir, 20 miles southwest of Baker City, in late September. This will mark the first time tiger trout have been released in the region.

The trout will stocked by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Tiger trout are a cross between brook and brown trout. Named for its striking stripes, the fish will be added to Phillips Reservoir to enhance a trout fishery that perch are ruining, said La Grande ODFW Biologist Tim Bailey. Today perch are out-competing rainbow trout at Phillips Reservoir, causing the rainbows to tend to be small.

Prior to the illegal introduction of perch into Phillips about two decades ago the reservoir had an excellent trophy rainbow trout fishery, Bailey said.

Initially, anglers will have to release all of the tiger trout they hook. Later, anglers will be able to keep trout after it it has been determined that most of the fish have grown significantly and there has been a good survival rate.

 “We will be monitoring their growth closely,’’ Bailey said.

Once the fish, known for their fast growth, reach significant sizes, anglers will be able to keep some of the tiger trout they land. The ODFW may propose that only larger tiger trout can be kept and that the rest have to  be released, Bailey said. A minimum size of possibly 18 inches might be selected. This would promote the development of trophy tiger trout fishery.

All fish and game regulations in Oregon do not take effect until approved by the   Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission.

The tiger trout to be released at Phillips Reservoir are being raised at Klamath Hatchery in Chiloquin near Klamath Falls. Some of the tiger trout raised there will also be stocked at Fish Lake in Southwest Oregon.

Tiger trout will released into Phillips Reservoir in late September because this is when the ones at Klamath Hatchery will have reached a size of six inches, making them less vulnerable to predators. The tiger trout will also be released then because the water will be cooler at Phillips Reservoir, making it easier for them to adapt.

Tiger trout are more like brown than brook trout in  terms of feeding habits, Bailey said. He explained that they feed primarily on other fish.

Anglers accustomed to rainbow trout will have to use different strategies when trying to land tigers because their feeding habits are different. Tiger trout tend to feed in the morning, early evening and at night. Rainbows are daytime feeders.

Tiger trout, which are sterile, have been planted in Wyoming, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin. None have yet been released in Oregon.

Bailey said they have done well in lakes at elevations up to 10,000 feet.