By Wayne Kruse Special to The Herald
Opening day of the state’s lowland lake trout fishing season on Saturday dawned cold, windy and wet most places, but the fish didn’t seem to mind and anglers weren’t complaining too much either.
“I checked back over the numbers and the catch rate in Region 4 (Pierce County to the Canadian border) was actually slightly better than last year,” said Annette Hoffmann, fish program manager for the region, with headquarters in Mill Creek. “Most of the anglers we contacted were generally happy with the size and quality of the trout they were catching, although they said the weather could have been better.”
Hoffmann said the average length of time on the water was a little shorter yesterday than in 2009, probably because of the weather, but that her creel checkers reported a healthy mix of adults and youngsters at area lakes.
“A lot of the kids had caught a nice triploid or two, and seemed really pleased with that,” she said. “It’s good to see families out fishing on the opener. It’s a good, healthy activity, it’s close to home, and it’s relatively inexpensive.”
An extra-large number of pen-raised “triploid” rainbow in the 1- to 2-pound range were purchased from a private contractor and planted this spring in many area lakes to help make up for fish lost to the Bellingham Hatchery closure.
One noticeable problem cropped up, Hoffmann said, in the number of citations being issued by sheriff’s deputies for violations of law requiring personal flotation devices. The regulations are in the state fishing rules pamphlet, she said, encouraging families to read it and be prepared.
Following are creel checks for selected lakes in King, Snohomish, Skagit, Island and Whatcom counties. The first number is trout caught and kept, per person, while the second number is trout caught and either kept or released:
Snohomish and Island Counties
Averages for the two counties combined were 2.4 trout kept per person, and 3.8 trout “encountered.” By lake it was:
Deer Lake (Whidbey Island), 2.6 and 2.8; Lake Armstrong, 2.5 and 4.4; Lake Bosworth, 2.5 and 5.6; Lake Howard, 2.8 and 3.8; Lake Ki, 1.9 and 3.0 (some limits but a lot of anglers with nothing); Martha Lake (Alderwood Manor), 2.3 and 4.2; Lake Riley, 3.0 and 4.6; Lake Serene, 1.5 and 2.4; Lake Stickney, 2.0 and 4.0; Storm Lake, 4.3 and 5.7; and Wagner Lake, 1.0 and 1.0.
Skagit and Whatcom Counties
Averages for the two counties combined were 3.1 trout kept per person, and 4.1 trout “encountered.” By lake it was:
Lake Erie, 4.0 and 5.3; Heart Lake, 4.7 and 6.3; Lake McMurray, 3.8 and 4.3; and Lake Sixteen, 2.0 and 2.7. Lake Padden near Bellingham, a very good beginner’s water with easy access, was very crowded, but produced well at 3.4 trout kept per person and 3.7 trout encountered.
Average for the county was 2.6 trout kept per person and 4.9 trout encountered. By lake it was:
Lake Geneva, tops in the county at 5.0 and 6.0; Rattlesnake Lake, due to switch to catch and release rules on the first of May, 1.7 and 8.2, as people jumped early onto C&R. Lake Wilderness drew its usual large and enthusiastic community crowd for pancake breakfasts, specially tagged trout, prizes, campouts, and all the rest making it a standout “happening” for years.
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 and trout become more active. But generally speaking, the lakes which produced best yesterday will probably still produce best next weekend.