Breeze through the opening day fishing report and you’ll notice an unusual species in the creel at Rowland Lake, down on the Washington-Oregon border: A turkey.
John Weinheimer, a biologist out of the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife’s Vancouver office, reported a tom with an 8-inch beard was among the harvest at the trout lake on Saturday’s big opener.
Elsewhere, though, anglers caught a good mix of recent stockers and carryovers, despite cold temperatures. According to WDFW’s Jon Anderson, who puts together a quick overview report right after the opener, state staffers spoke with “5,410 anglers with 12,497 trout from 121 lakes statewide” — plus one turkey.
He says anglers averaged 2.3 trout in the creel.
A few surprises in the top 10 lakes: Spokane County’s Williams Lake; Horseshoe and Island lakes in Kitsap County; Okanogan County’s Pearrygin Lake; Skagit County’s Erie Lake; Ward Lake in Thurston County; King County’s Steel Lake; Snohomish County’s Howard Lake; Silver Lake in Whatcom County; and Cedar Lake in Stevens County.
Here’s the rest of Anderson’s report:
Fish Program Manager John Whalen noted weather conditions in the early morning were cool, but clear, with light wind for eastern Washington. A light rain in the Spokane area began around noon. Fishing effort was strong at the lakes checked around the Spokane area, and also in southern Stevens and Pend Oreille counties, as angler numbers observed during 8 A.M. and Noon pressure counts remained consistent or increased in to the early afternoon. For lakes checked in Districts 1 and 2, the top average for the number of fish per angler checked, was observed at Williams Lake in Spokane County, with 5 fish per angler checked. Other top producers in Region 1 included Badger Lake (3.9), Fish Lake (3.6), Cedar Lake (3.95) and Deep Lake (3.7).
Jeff Korth reported a good opening day in Central Washington, but effort was a little low due to the effects of the wind on the boat anglers, keeping their catches on the low side. The weather was warm (50 degrees plus), clear, and sunny. Water temperatures were from 48-50° F. Overall angler participation was up from last year, but the wind kept boater participation lower than usual, and probably depressed catch rates on the bigger lakes. At the large lakes such as Warden, Park and Blue, the Westside versus Eastside participation was back to usual, with 55% of the anglers coming from western Washington, and providing a needed economic stimulus for the region.
Art Viola called in from the Chelan. Nice sunny weather, but windy (50 -600 F). Unfortunately, the previous month’s persistent cold weather, snow, mud covered roads and iced covered lakes precluded fish stocking at Beehive and Spring Hill reservoirs. Lack of technical help 2009 allowed the survey of only Wapato and Clear lakes. Early in the morning effort at Wapato Lake was similar to the past 6 years but many anglers left early because of cold windy conditions. The catch per angler was much improved compared to 2008. All fish were healthy and robust; yearlings were 13- 14 inches in length. Evidential, the 2008 fry survival and growth was good. Catch proportions were 4.3% carryovers, 92.1% yearlings and 3.6% carryover triploid rainbows. Effort at Clear Lake was up about 20% compared to past years but the wind drove many fishermen off the lake early. The largest fish seen at Clear Lake were four 18-inch rainbows. The rest of the trout caught were very small 9 –10 inches. Anglers were excited about the larger fish but much complaining was heard about the overall small size of the fish stocked.
Bob Jateff reported that the weather was a little unsettled, but there was a pretty good turnout for most of the lakes in Okanogan County. Catch rates were very good at Pearrygin, Conconully Lake and Reservoir, Leader and Alta. Selective gear waters, such as Big Twin and Blue (Sinlahekin) produced good fishing for those who could stand the wind and occasional rain. Catch rates were down at Jameson as was turnout, but should pick up in the coming weeks and he expects fishing to improve considerably there.
Chad Jackson reported from the south half of WDFW’s Region 4 that the morning’s weather was cloudy, drizzly at some lakes, and cold. Rattlesnake Lake was 20 degrees with wind chill and on the verge of snowing! Angler effort was ‘way down, and he thought that memories of last year’s Opening Day might have kept some from participating. Catches were slow in the early morning, and seemed to pick up from 10 a.m. to noon, when the sun began to come out. Boat anglers were generally more successful than shore anglers. There were high numbers of carry-overs harvested out of Langlois Lake. Several anglers reported that the fish didn’t bite too well at some lakes, and thought it was related to water temperatures. They kept at it, figuring that fishing would pick up later in the day.
John Weinheimer noted that in WDFW Region 5 they had overall cold and gray skies, very windy in some places. As in past years we saw a lot of catch and release fishing, and quite a number of people were happy with 2 fish each and didn’t stay for their limits. Overall people seemed to be having good time in spite of the weather. Fishing is expected to improve as water temperatures increase, and people are encouraged to keep fishing. John did note that he checked a nice Tom Turkey at Rowland Lake, with an 8-inch beard, which was a nice ‘extra’.
A combination of catchables, ‘jumbos’, and triploids resulted in a good mix of fish size in each creel, a few 14-17″ mixed with catchable size (9-11″) in south Puget Sound area lakes. Lakewood Hatchery specialist Jim Jenkins notes that WDFW rears the “jumbo’ rainbow trout at Eells Springs and Lakewood fish hatcheries in earthen ponds, and release them at 15-to-18 inches in length. These fat, 1-1/2 to two-pound fish provide some of the better quality fishing in Mason, Pierce and Thurston Counties. WDFW Area fish biologist Mike Scharpf noted that Pierce County anglers were really impressed with these fish.
In Thurston County, Larry Phillips reported that, with a couple of exceptions anglers fishing Thurston Co. Lake had very good fishing today. The quantity and quality of this year’s fish were very good, thanks to the hatchery staff at Lakewood and Eells Springs fish hatcheries. There were no real surprises this year with the exception of Deep Lake. Deep Lake was surveyed by former WDFW biologist Chuck Baranski who saw few catchable size fish in the creel. The lake was stocked in late March, and we have observed that catchable trout suffer significant mortality when stocked too far ahead of the opener. The survey at Summit Lake documented a good contribution from the 2008 fry plants. Based on a small sample size it appears that the fry comprised between 30-40% of all catchable length fish observed. Carryover rates were also very good relative to previous years. Of the 59 fish caught that were greater than 14 inches, 19 were carryovers. Also, five kokanee were caught, with the largest being 11”. This year’s kokanee fishery will likely be poor due to the fry shortage in 2007. High grading was also an issue with many anglers at Summit, Pattison, and McIntosh reported catching many fish that were too small. The message we continue to hear from anglers is “more large fish.”
WDFW Area fish biologist Rick Ereth reported on the nice fish in Grays Harbor County. The Elma Game Club raises 4-to-6 pound “quality” rainbows at Satsop Springs, which add to the mix of WDFW catchables, beautiful “jumbos”, and the triploids. Failor Lake had fair angling. A 6-½ pound rainbow won the Derby there. Anglers did all right at Aberdeen Lake as well, with the largest fish checked this morning being a 26-inch quality rainbow. Kim Figlar-Barnes called in from the Vance Creek ponds near Elma, where the water had cleared significantly from the brown and muddy from the previous winter’s floods. At Lake Sylvia, numbers of anglers were down from last year, partly due to the razor clam opening this morning. WDFW sampler Brian Berry reported watching a smiling 4-year old girl running up the bank toward her folks in the parking lot, holding her fishing pole with her trout following behind. Curt Holt called in from Pacific County, where the largest rainbow caught in Black Lake at the City of Ilwaco Derby weighed in at 3 pounds.
Elma Game Club Derby winners reported from Vance Creek Pond #1 included: In the 0-7 year age group, Elizabeth Disken caught a 6 lb, 13 oz rainbow; in the 8-15 year group, Justin Franz caught a 7 lb, 15 oz trout; in the 16-60 age group, Jesse Hayes caught a 6 lb, 8 oz fish, and in the over-60 group, Jerry McKinney caught a 1 lb, 15 oz ‘bow. The Derby at Aberdeen Lake had age 0-4 boys largest fish was 21 inches and 4.86 lbs; Age 0-4 girls largest was 23 inches at 5.24 lbs. Age 5-9 boys’ largest was the 24.5 inch, 7.39 lbs rainbow; age 5-9 girls caught a 23 inch, 5.95 lb fish. Age 10-14 boys’ largest was 22.75” and 5.94 lbs, the 10-14 year old girls’ biggest trout was 24 inches and 5.82 pounds.
Thom Johnson called in with reports for the Olympic Peninsula lakes. We had many volunteers help check anglers this season; special thanks to Bremerton Sportsmen’s Club, Freshies and Salties, Port Ludlow Fly-fishers, Kitsap Fly Anglers, PSA East Jefferson, PSA North Kitsap, and PSA South Sound. Overall, fishing was good with a good mix of catchables, jumbos, triploids, and broodstock in the catch. The highest fish/angler were recorded at Horsehoe (4.9) and Island (4.5), both in Kitsap County. Anderson Lake in Jefferson County, usually a hotspot, was closed due to toxic algae concentrations which posed a high risk to anglers. As usual, effort was fairly low on year-round waters on Opening Day. More triploids will be stocked in May in several waters and anglers can look forward to good fishing thru the spring and early summer.
Department staff and volunteers reported checking 5,410 anglers with 12,497 trout from 121 lakes statewide. Anglers checked statewide averaged 2.3 trout per fisherman. The top ten lakes for angler success were: Spokane County’s Williams lake; Horseshoe and Island lakes in Kitsap County; Okanogan County’s Pearrygin Lake; Skagit County’s Erie Lake; Ward Lake in Thurston County; King County’s Steel Lake; Snohomish County’s Howard Lake; Silver Lake in Whatcom County; and Cedar Lake in Stevens County.