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Good weather means big crowds for trout opener

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By Wayne Kruse
Special for The Herald
As long as you have a doughnut the morning is a success.
Or that could have been the prevailing philosophy on a number of area lakes Saturday, the opener of the statewide general lowland trout fishing season, where one Department of Fish and Wildlife creel checker reported from Lake Padden "an enormous crowd, including a whole lot of kids eating doughnuts."
Padden, on the south edge of Bellingham, is one of northwest Washington's premiere trout lakes for families, youngsters, oldsters and beginners, with lots of park access and heavy plants of plump rainbow. Regardless of nutritional arguments, kids, doughnuts and trout fishing go hand in hand, and the anglers on Lake Padden caught 3.1 'bows per person, watched ospreys circling overhead and a hen mallard with four ducklings off the shoreline, and generally had a great time.
Reasonably dry, windless weather brought out good crowds around north Puget Sound, but success rates were mixed. Annette Hoffmann, fish program manager for the WDFW's region 4 out of Mill Creek, said there were some winners and some losers, as is almost always the case.
There were, for instance, three real disappointments in Snohomish County, Hoffmann said. Lake Armstrong, usually a top producer, put out only 0.4 trout per person Saturday compared to 2.5 per person on the 2010 opener. Lake Serene's catch rate of 0.2 per rod was also well under last year's 1.5, and Lake Stickney, at 0.14 trout per person was substantially below 2010's 2.0 per rod.
Better reports from lakes in Snohomish County came from the following, with the caveat that these were fish kept, not released, and Hoffmann warned that angler behavior, such as catch and release, could skew the numbers:
Lake Bosworth, 3.0 trout per person, including a coho salmon (2.5 last year); lots of catch and release, and comments that limits would have been easy if people had wanted to keep their fish; Crabapple Lake, 1.7 per person (no checks last year); Lake Howard, 2.15 per person (2.8 last year); Lake Ki came back strong at 3.14 trout per rod, compared to a dismal 1.9 last year; Martha Lake (Alderwood Manor), 2.6 per person, including a 27-inch holdover rainbow (2.3 last year); Lake Riley was outstanding, with limits around, 5.0 per person, after a good year (4.3) in 2010; and Storm Lake, 3.0 per rod (4.3 last year).
Skagit County: Lake Erie, 3.4 (4.0 last year); Heart Lake, 3.4 (4.7 last year); McMurray a very disappointing 1.6 per rod, compared to 3.8 last year; and Lake 16, a poor result at 1.1 fish per person, compared to what was considered a down year in 2010, at 2.0 per person. Cormorants may have been the problem on Lake 16, Hoffmann said, but angler grumbling from McMurray and 16 could be heard for miles.
Island County: Deer Lake, 1.7 trout per person, compared to 2.6 last year.
Positive points on the opener, Hoffmann said, included the better weather and anglers spending more time on the water, and the high percentage of families and young people enjoying the outdoor experience. Negatively, the high number of citations issued for not observing the required flotation device regulations, for the second year in a row.
"We want people to stay safe," Hoffmann said.
There are lots of trout left in the lakes, Hoffmann said, for next weekend and the weeks after and, in fact, fishing may improve in some as water temperatures warm from a record cold spring. But generally speaking, the lakes which produced best yesterday will probably still produce best next weekend.
Story tags » FishingHunting

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