With the price of gas approaching four bucks a gallon and the gray clouds of the economic downturn still hanging overhead, many of us these days are looking close to home for our recreational opportunities. And that’s practically a ready-made advertisement for the opening day of Washington’s general lowland lake trout fishing season, April 30.
Lakes have been fully stocked with rainbow of various sizes by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, so it shouldn’t be difficult to find a nearby water with bank fishing access, a fishing dock, or a ramp from which to launch a small boat. Some 300,000 recreationists around the state are expected to do just that on Saturday morning, many looking for a limit of plump ‘bows to take home to dinner; others aiming to catch-and-release.
For an interactive map of Wayne’s top 10 trout lakes this year, click here
Doug Hatfield, state hatchery manager for this region, said that triploid rainbow (much-sought 1- to 2-pound fish) plants will about the same as last year, as will “catchables” in the 8- to 10-inch range, while the number of half-pounders going 12 to 14 inches is up slightly from last season.
So,as usual, it promises to be a circus, a raucous free-for-all, a time-honored part of the Northwest life style, and the largest single-day sporting event in Washington.
TOP TEN LAKES
According to state biologists, tackle shop owners, and expert anglers, here is a list of ten lakes which should be top prospects for opening morning:
Heart Lake, Skagit County, just south of Anacortes, was the best lake in the area on last year’s opener, putting out pretty much limits around and a per-rod average of 6.3 rainbow either kept or released. The triploid plant has been cut in half this year, to a total of 1,200 fish, along with 7,100 catchables. Attractive park setting, large access area, fair bank access. Will be crowded, but handles it well.
Storm Lake, north of Snohomish, produced a 5.7 trout per rod average, kept or released, on the 2010 opener and is a good bet this year despite a cut in the plant. No triploids; catchables cut 2,500 fish to a total of 5,000; half-pounders cut 900 fish to a total of 2,100.
Lake Erie, Skagit County, lying next to and a clone of, Heart Lake, put out 5.3 rainbow per rod last year, kept or released. Triploid plant cut 800 fish to a total of 1,445; regular plant about the same at 7,500, but larger fish. Both Heart and Erie are well worth the drive north.
Lake McMurray, a good-sized lake on Highway 9 between Arlington and Sedro-Wooley is a dependable producer of prime rainbow, 4.3 per rod last year. No triploids, but the plant of half-pounders is up 400 fish to a total of 13,600. Should be good fishing, and it holds up well in following weeks.
Lake Bosworth: While this Granite Falls-area lake won’t rerceive any triploids, it will get the same size plant which produced a nice 5.6 fish per person average last year — 8,000 catchables and 3,000 half-pounders.
Lake Riley, east of Arlington, is a small, marshy lake with little bank fishing access. Anglers there averaged a very nice 4.6 trout per person on the 2010 opener. No triploid plants, but 2,000 half-pounders will sweeten the pot, along with 2,000 catchables, down slightly from last year.
Lake Armstrong: Small lake north of Arlington off Highway 9 is very temperature sensitive and, depending on weather conditions, can either be a limit fishery or mediocre. It was pretty fair last year on opening day, producing an average of 4.4 trout per rod, kept or released. The plant will be about the same this year, 4,000 rainbow, but generally larger fish.
Martha Lake (Alderwood Manor): Popular lake has park access and two fishing piers, and put out 4.2 trout per person last year. No triploids this year, but a nice plant of 8,000 catchables and 2,000 half-pounders, about the same as in 2010.
Lake Howard: A small, pretty lake, lying a mile and a half past Lake Goodwin in the “resort lakes” area northwest of Marysville. High-quality fishery and sometimes relatively uncrowded. Anglers here averaged 3.8 trout per rod last year, and the plant this time around is much larger — 720 triploids; 4,000 catchables, double last year’s number, and larger fish.
Lake Stickney, a small, suburban fishery northeast of Lynnwood, is a year-around lake, but planted prior to opening day with 1,000 catchable rainbow and an additionaal plant of 400 half-pounders. No triploids. Average catch on last year’s opener was a nice 4.0 trout per person.
State plants of large, pen-raised triploid rainbow trout running 1 to 2 pounds each, with the month of scheduled planting, are as follows. These are in addition to plants by area fishing clubs of purchased ‘bows, some as large as 5 or 6 pounds or larger, in a handful of local lakes.
Snohomish County: Lake Cassidy, 442 fish this month; Flowing Lake, 382 fish this month; Gissberg Ponds, 393 fish in May; Lake Howard, 720 fish this month; Lake Martha (Warm Beach), 275 fish this month; Lake Roesiger, 501 fish this month; and Silver Lake, 393 fish this month.
Skagit County: Lake Campbell, 805 fish in May; Clear Lake, 702 fish this month; Lake Erie, 1,455 fish this month; Heart Lake, 1205 fish this month; Pass Lake, 162 fish in May; and Vogler Lake, 59 fish in May.
Island County: Lone Lake, 393 fish in May.
Kids’ fish-ins are great opportunities not only for kids, but for novice families/adults as well to learn the basics of trout fishing from experts, usually fishing club members, in attendance. Among a number of such events around western Washington this time of year are the following:
May 1 at Lake Tye on the west edge of Monroe, just south of Hwy 2, free, lots of prizes, lots of trout in a net pen for the kids, including some larger triploids. Starts at 8 a.m., but there’s usually an earlier lineup. Arguably the largest such kid’s event in the area; draws a huge crowd. Call Jeff Shirley at 425-359-7756, or Gary Bee at 206-818-2991.
May 7 at Jennings Pond in Marysville, 8-11 a.m., free and open to youngsters 5 to 12 years. Accepting donations to the local food bank. Raffle for all prizes, so not based on catching a fish. Well stocked, including some larger triploid rainbow. Tackle to borrow, or bring your own. No pre-registration necessary. Call John’s Sporting Goods at 425-259-3056.
May 14 at Silver Lake, south Everett, at the city park on the west side of the lake, sponsored by Everett Parks and Recreation and local fishing clubs. Fee of $7; registration required with EvParks, 425-257-8300, Ext. 2. Gear to borrow or bring your own. Lake is stocked, including triploids.
May 21 at North Gissberg Pond (Twin Lakes), adjacent to I-5 at Smokey Point. Youngsters 14 and under (the north pond is by law open to juveniles only), free, 8 a.m. To 2 p.m., prizes for all the larger fish, tackle to loan or bring your own. The pond will be heavily stocked, including some large triploids. Sponsored by the Everett Steelhead and Salmon Club. Call Jim Brauch at 425-745-0444.
DON’T KNOW HOW TO FISH?
Local tackle shops are more than happy to show you the basic trout fishing gear and how to rig it, demonstrate techniques, and tell you where to go. They can suggest lakes with fishing piers, for those without a boat, and other good stuff. We don’t have room to list everyone who sells fishing gear here, but the following handful are all solid members of the local sportfishing community:
Ted’s Sport Center, Lynnwood, 425-743-9505; Ed’s Surplus, Lynnwood, 425-778-1441; John’s Sporting Goods, Everett, 425-259-3056; Triangle Bait and Tackle, Snohomish, 360-568-4276; Hook Line & Sinker, Smokey Point, 360-651-7304; and Holiday Sports, Burlington, 360-757-4361.
Young people 14 and under fish free; everyone else needs one of the 2011 frreshwater license options: $26 for an annual adult license; $11 for 15-year olds and persons with disabilities; and $8 for seniors 70 and older. Licenses may be purchased on the Internet at https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov, by phone at 1-866-246-9453, or at most marinas, tackle shops and other vendors around the state. Generally the per-person daily trout limit on lowland lakes is five fish, but there are exceptions. Pick up a free regulation pamphlet at any license vendor.