By Mike Benbow / Special to The Herald
ARLINGTON — Earlier this month, a group of volunteers gathered at a state hatchery in Arlington to clip the adipose fins on 600 trout that will be planted in Skagit County’s Pass Lake as part of a study.
Somebody has illegally planted perch in the lake, and officials want to assess their effect on the lake’s trout population.
The Pass Lake fish are among 2.1 million catchable trout to be planted in the state’s lakes to prepare for the opening day of trout season on Saturday. While many lakes are open year-around, the fourth Saturday in April is traditionally the day that thousands of anglers mob local lakes for some fun and perhaps a fish dinner.
To create even more interest in the sport — and to sell a few licenses — state officials will up the ante for this year’s opener by adding 1,000 fish marked with a blue tags that lucky anglers can redeem through a six-month period for prizes offered by license dealers.
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If you’ve fished opening day before, you know the drill. Get up early, head for your favorite lake, and hope the weather cooperates and the fish are active.
If you’re not sure where to go, Justin Spinelli, a regional fish biologist for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, recommended these local lakes for opening day:
Located in Lynnwood, Martha is a busy lake that is generously stocked with rainbow trout. Nearly 60 acres, Martha has a state boat ramp, toilet and parking at the southeast corner. It also has a county park with other facilities, including play and picnic areas.
Located off Lakewood Road eight miles northwest of Marysville, Ki is near the larger Lake Goodwin and Wenberg State Park. The 96-acre lake is traditionally a good opening-day lake. There isn’t a real boat ramp, and parking is limited. But you can park along the roadside and launch car toppers in gravel at the lake’s north end. Leave private driveways clear or face ticketing.
Located a couple miles from Granite Falls, Bosworth has resident cutthroat trout and planted rainbow trout. It’s also home to the state-record largemouth bass (12.5 pounds), although the water will be a little cold on opening day for good bass fishing. Access on the northeast corner provides a ramp, a toilet and limited parking. Gas-powered motors aren’t allowed.
Located five miles north of Monroe, Storm is a popular lake with limited facilities. Access is on the northwest shore and includes a narrow ramp, a pit toilet and limited parking. Storm is 73 acres and gas-powered motors are prohibited.
Located off Highway 2 west of downtown Monroe, the lake is located in a park with very good shore access. There are a variety of fish in the lake, including plenty of hatchery trout planted for the opener. The lake, nearly 50 acres, is man-made and is open year-round. A nice family Lake, Tye is a good place to teach youngsters how to fish.
Located a mile west of Clinton on Whidbey Island, Deer offers good fishing for both cutthroat and rainbow trout, with a few larger carryover fish in with the hatchery plants. The 82-acre lake has a gravel ramp and parking on the northeast corner.
Featuring both cutthroat and rainbow trout, Goss can offer good catch rates in the opening days when the water is still cool and the fish are active. The 54-acre lake on Whidbey Island has a gravel ramp and parking area on the east end.
Sixteen is highly popular on the opener because catch rates for the stocked rainbows are generally very good. The 43-acre lake is about two miles east of Conway and has launching and toilet facilities.
A couple miles south of Anacortes on Heart Lake Road, the lake is 64 acres and is typically generously planted before opening day. It has a public launch.
Located nine miles northwest of Arlington near the junction of Highway 9 and Highway 534, McMurray has long been a good lake on opening day for both cutthroat and rainbow trout. State access at the south end of the 155-acre lake includes a launch, a toilet and limited parking.
More than 1,000 fish with blue tags have been stocked in Washington lakes, offering anglers prizes valued at $39,000. For a list of lakes with prize fish and information on how to claim a prize, visit fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov/Home/FishingDerby.
Buying a license
Anglers age 15 and older need to buy an annual freshwater fishing license. You can get one online at fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov, by telephone at 1-866-246-9453, or at dealers around the state. Look for venders at wdfw.wa.gov/licenses/dealers.