The wind whistled through the blooming dogwood as I strapped my brand-new pontoon boat to the top of the fish rig this past Saturday morning. Ugh, I thought, of all the days it has to blow.
It was the trout opener, the biggest annual gathering of Washington fisherkind of the year — as well as the first day of the year to fish several Oregon lakes — so I wasn’t going to bag it either.
Well, I thought shaking my head, it is April, after all. And at least I’ll be able to check off fishing in the wind out of yet another type of boat.
I’d hoped that the breeze would be a wee bit lighter further inland from our house on the slope towards Puget Sound, but it wasn’t the case at 11-acre Echo Lake off Aurora (which is actually a year-round water, but with time constraints, my best option to get afield that day). So, layered up with three fleeces, waders, lifejacket, parka, three pieces of leftover pizza and a mess of lures and flies, I launched the pontoon, kindly supplied by Creek Company, and splashed in.
And was promptly blown back to shore.
By then it was too late to back out — Amy and the boys had roared off to the zoo — so I battled into the wind, just as tens of thousands of others across the Everbreezy State did, and like everyone else, found trout.
Here’s WDFW’s wrap-up report from around the state:
Although the weather was cool, and at times rainy and quite windy, most anglers who ventured out around the state had a successful opening day of lowland lake fishing.
WDFW biologists provided the following information on the opener:
REGION 1 FISH PROGRAM Manager John Whalen noted that windy conditions contributed to an observed decline in anglers venturing out to area lakes for the traditional April trout fishing opening day. Steady winds out of the west southwest at 25 miles per hour, with wind gusts up to 30 mph, hampered fishing activity and created some back-ups at lake boat ramps as people worked to re-unite their boats and trailers. In District 2 angler counts on monitored lakes in the Spokane area were down an estimated 50 percent from the turn out observed for last year’s near perfect opening day conditions. While average fish per angler harvest numbers were down, most anglers interviewed were satisfied with their catches. Rainbow trout in the 14 to 16 inch range were observed in angler catches on several lakes in District 2, with some fish up into the low 20 inch range. District 1 also reported windy fishing conditions, with trees being blown down at Trout Lake (Ferry Co.) and Rocky Lake (Stevens Co.). Some of the best fishing in District 1 was observed at Cedar Lake (Stevens Co.) with a harvest average of 5 fish per angler. Deep Lake (Stevens Co.) also fished well with 3.6 fish per angler, along with Rocky Lake (Stevens Co.) with 4.4 fish per angler.
CHAD JACKSON IN EPHRATA reported that anglers fishing Grant County opening day lakes this year were greeted with chilly and very windy (15-30mph) conditions that persisted until about noon. These conditions definitely impacted angler participation and success, especially boat anglers. Most anglers waited out the weather as evidenced by the noon peak effort counts at every opening day lake except for Warden Lake (8:00AM peak count). However, observed angler participation and success improved right around noon when the wind began to die down and air temperatures rose. During the 8:00AM to 12:00PM creel survey, angler success was best at Park and Warden lakes. Anglers averaged a little better than 3 trout harvested per angler. The remaining lakes averaged less than 2 trout per angler. Trout size at all the opening day lakes was good ranging between 11-13 inches. Park Lake had the largest yearling trout ranging from 13-15 inches followed by Blue Lake at 12-13 inches. With the weather shaping up in the afternoon, the expectation is that most anglers will catch, or come close, their limits of trout.
ART VIOLA IN CHELAN COUNTY reported nice sunny weather, but windy (50 -600 F). Unfortunately, again this year, persistent cold weather, snow, mud covered roads and ice covered lakes precluded fish stocking at Beehive and Spring Hill reservoirs. The DNR closed the road to Lilly Lake precluding angler access; consequently anglers had access to only two opening day lakes: Wapato and Clear lakes.
Early morning effort (boat and shore angler counts) at Wapato Lake was only about 33% of angler effort surveyed in the past 8 years. Catch per angler was improved compared to 2009. All fish were healthy and robust; yearlings (1+) were 13- 14 inches in length, evidentyl the 2009 fry survival and growth was good. Carry over fish (2+) were 14- 18 inches. Catch proportions were 7.1% carryovers to 92.9% yearling rainbows.
Effort at Clear Lake was up compared to past years, likely because of the lack of access to other area lakes. The largest fish seen at Clear Lake were five 16 –19 -inch rainbows. The rest of the trout caught were 12-13 inches. Anglers were excited about the larger fish, but much complaining was heard about the lack of access to other area lakes.
IN OKANOGAN COUNTY, Bob Jateff reported that generally, the fishing was good on the opener. The weather was cool and windy, but sunny. Anglers were pleased to catch a few bigger triploid rainbows in some of the production waters, such as Pearrygin and Alta. In addition, both Conconully Lake and Reservoir produced some nice fishing for rainbow trout. The selective gear waters such as Blue in the Sinlahekin had rainbow in the 11-16 inch range. Blue Lake near Wannacut was good fishing for Lahontan Cutthroat in the 14-18 inch range. Big and Little Twin in the Winthrop area produced rainbow in the 10-16 inch class. Jameson, despite some early season algae problems, was a good producer for rainbow with carryover fish to 15 inches.
FOR PIERCE AND THURSTON COUNTIES, catch today was dominated by jumbo rainbow trout with some triploids and broodstock fish mixed in. In a few lakes the standard catchable size fish made a significant contribution to the catch. In most lakes their contribution was minor; they should show more strongly in the catch over the next few weeks as lakes warm. Lakewood Hatchery specialist Jim Jenkins notes that WDFW rears the “jumbo’ rainbow trout at Eells Springs and Lakewood fish hatcheries in earthen ponds, and releases 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 (Pierce County) and Larry Phillips (Thurston County) reported that, with a couple of exceptions, anglers had very good fishing today. Anglers in the two local Clear Lakes in Pierce and Thurston counties reported catching more than 5 fish each, taking home more than 3. The quantity and quality of this year’s fish were very good, thanks to the hatchery staff at Lakewood and Eells Springs fish hatcheries. Most anglers were very satisfied with the number, size, and appearance of the fish. Creel checkers also noted that bullhead catfish and crappie showed in some lakes. This is a little bit earlier in the year than average. Checkers also noted that osprey and bald eagles enjoyed fishing success on some of the lakes, too.
MOST NORTH SOUND LAKES had fair catch rates despite the cloudy and cold weather. Notable exceptions were Lake Geneva in King County, where all anglers checked had limits, and Steele Lake also in King County, with 3.9 fish retained per angler. Storm Lake in Snohomish County had 4.3 trout kept per angler, although effort was low. In Skagit County, Erie and Heart Lake had 4.0 and 4.7 fish kept per angler, with a good showing of triploids.
SOUTHWEST WASHINGTON anglers were met with rain, cold, wind, and the occasional snow flurry, similar to most parts of western Washington. Anglers in Rowland Lake (Klickitat County) and Kidney Lake (Skamania County) did a lot of catch-and-release fishing, although anglers did hang on to a large 2-3 pound brown trout in Kidney Lake and 2 broodstock (one over 12 pounds) in Rowland Lake. Swift Reservoir had a good showing of coho to keep anglers busy.
ON THE COAST, WDFW Area fish biologist Rick Ereth reported that angling at Duck Lake (Grays Harbor County) was slow. Bad weather and turbid water combined to keep both catch and angling effort down. However, good catches of large crappie have been reported from the north end of the lake. Failor Lake had fair angling, with the largest fish a lunker of 6 lb 7oz. Curt Holt called in from Pacific County, where the largest rainbow caught in Black Lake weighed in at 3.25 pounds.
IN HOOD CANAL, Thom Johnson and Mark Downen had many volunteers help check anglers again this season; special thanks to Bremerton Sportsmen’s Club, Freshies and Salties, Port Ludlow Fly-fishers, Kitsap Fly Anglers, PSA East Jefferson, and PSA South Sound. The quantity and quality of this year’s fish were very good thanks to the staff at WDFW’s Eells Springs and Lakewood fish hatcheries. The weather was cold, windy and rainy in Kitsap and Mason counties and a bit nicer further north in east Jefferson County – – this cut fishing short on some lakes as the anglers headed for cover. Overall, fishing was fair to good with a good mix of catchables, jumbos, triploids, and broodstock in the catch. The highest catch rates were recorded in east Jefferson County at Anderson Lake (3.3 fish kept/angler) where most rainbows measured a whopping 15-17”, in Kitsap County at Wye Lake (3.5 fish kept/angler), and in Mason County at Haven Lake (3.6 fish kept/angler). Bay Lake in Pierce County was good fishing with 3.7 fish kept/angler. Anglers are encouraged to fish Anderson Lake soon as it is likely that the lake will close early this season due to recurring toxic algae concentrations which can pose a high risk to anglers. A diversity of lake fishing opportunities abound in Hood Canal District and anglers can readily find a great way to pass the time fishing with family and friends. More catchables, jumbos, and triploids will be stocked in May in several District lakes and anglers can look forward to good fishing thru the spring and early summer.
Department staff and volunteers reported checking 4,801 anglers with 11,100 trout from 116 lakes statewide. Anglers checked statewide averaged 2.2 trout per fisherman.
The top ten lakes for angler success were: Stevens County’s Cedar and Rocky lakes; Hart Lake, McMurray Lake, and Erie Lake in Skagit County, Snohomish County’s Storm Lake; Geneva and Steele Lakes in King County, Swift Reservoir in Skamania County and Bay Lake in Pierce County.
2010 Lakes Opening Day Data CPUE means Catch Per Unit Effort (fish per rod)
County Lake Anglers Checked Fish Kept Fish/Angler Comments Chelan Clear Lake 79 237 3.00 A few 18-20″ fish. Wapato Lake 42 155 3.69 Some large carryover rainbows. Douglas Jameson Lake 55 137 2.49 Yearling rainbow 10″. Carryover rainbows 14″. Ferry Trout Lake 6 15 2.50 Largest fish was a 10” rainbow. Cool and windy, one tree down Grant Blue Lake 61 112 1.84 Plus 4 released, total CPUE= 1.9. Yearling rainbows averaged 12.5 – 13 inches. Tiger and brown trout in the catch. Deep Lake 71 61 0.86 Plus 14 released, total CPUE=1.1. Shoreline anglers near the boat ramp fared well. Boat anglers were severely hampered by high winds. Park Lake 19 55 2.89 Plus 10 released, total CPUE= 3.4. Yearling rainbows averaged 12.5 – 13 inches. Tiger and brown trout in the catch. Perch Lake 46 43 0.93 Plus 14 released, total CPUE= 1.2. Rainbow trout ranged from 11-15 inches. Vic Meyers 15 18 1.20 Brown and brook trout reported in catch. Warden Lake 31 105 3.39 Plus 6 released, total CPUE=3.6. Yearling rainbows averaged 12 inches. Grays Harbor Aberdeen Lake 80 162 2.03 Plus 102 released, total CPUE=3.3. largest fish 19″. Duck Lake 11 4 0.36 Plus 1 released, total CPUE=.45. Bad weather, water was turbid. N end of the lake has been good for crappie. Failor Lake 58 105 1.81 Plus 101 released, total CPUE= 3.6. Largest fish 6 lb 7 oz, 24 3/8 inches. Sylvia Lake 24 87 3.63 Plus 7 released, total CPUE=3.9. Largest fish 16″. Vance Creek Pond #1 60 63 1.05 Derby winning fish were 4.55 and 5.35 lbs. Vance Creek Pond #2 35 56 1.60 Largest fish 19″. Island Deer Lake 12 31 2.58 Plus 3 released, total CPUE= 2.8. Low turnout, cold. Jefferson Anderson 74 246 3.32 Hot fishing, mostly 15-17″ rainbows; largest 20″ carryover. Horseshoe Lake 3 2 0.67 Ludlow Lake 15 29 1.93 Plus 20 released, total CPUE=3.3. Some hi-grading for jumbos; largest 17″. Sandy Shore Lake 54 146 2.70 Good mix of catchables and jumbos; largest 23″ broodstock. Silent Lake 16 28 1.75 Plus 47 released, total CPUE=4.7. Some hi-grading for jumbos to 14″. Tarboo Lake 25 33 1.32 Plus 15 released, total CPUE=1.9. Largest 20″ broodstock. King Cottage Lake 32 52 1.63 Plus 20 released, total CPUE= 2.25. Short trips due to weather. Geneva Lake 15 75 5.00 Plus15 fish released, total CPUE=6. Everyone caught limits, satisfied with size and condition of fish. Langlois Lake 39 122 3.13 Plus 88 released, total CPUE=5.4. Cold and rainy, anglers were satisfied with numbers and size of fish. Margaret Lake 48 141 2.94 Plus 206 released, total CPUE= 7.2. Cold and windy. North Lake 22 21 0.95 Plus 14 released, total CPUE= 1.6. Pine Lake 45 105 2.33 Plus 117 released, total CPUE=4.9. Rattlesnake Lake 51 88 1.73 Plus 331 released, total CPUE=8.2. Steel Lake 38 148 3.89 Plus 93 released, total CPUE=6.3. Walker Lake 24 33 1.38 Plus 53 released, total CPUE=3.6. Weather was cold. Wilderness Lake 43 118 2.74 Plus 32 released, total CPUE= 3.5. Kids got some big fish, largest 23″. Rainy and cold. Kitsap Buck Lake 15 34 2.27 Plus 18 released, total CPUE 3.5. Horseshoe Lake 19 40 2.11 Largest 20″ broodstock. Mission Lake 28 55 1.96 Some high-grading for jumbos; largest 18″ carryover. Panther Lake 46 92 2.00 Lots of triploids and jumbos. Wildcat Lake 41 68 1.66 Some high-grading for jumbos; largest 23″ (6 lb) broodstock. Wye Lake 31 107 3.45 Plus 73 released, total CPUE=5.8. Some high-grading for jumbos; largest 23″ broodstock. Bainbridge Island Pond Juvenile derby – great event – report pending Poggie derby Juvenile derby – great event – report pending Klickitat Horsethief Lake 16 45 2.81 Windy, rainy, cold. Rowland Lake 45 116 2.58 Plus 197 released, total CPUE=6.9. People were happy to catch and release. Most fish were 15″ and over diploids. Two broodstock caught, one over 12 lbs. Spearfish Lake 2 2 1.00 Too cold, rainy, and windy to fish. Lewis Carlisle Lake 61 45 0.74 Many small coho caught and released. Fort Borst Park Pond 66 99 1.50 Plus 58 fish released, total CPUE=2.7. Cold and rainy Mineral Lake 154 258 1.68 Plus 133 released, total CPUE=2.53. Rain/snow. Mason Aldrich Lake 14 46 3.29 Plus 22 released, total CPUE=4.8. Some high-grading for jumbos to 14″. Benson Lake 54 130 2.41 Plus 83 released, total CPUE=3.94. Some high-grading for jumbos; largest 19″ triploid. Clara (Don) Lake 15 24 1.60 Plus 23 released, total CPUE=3.13. Some high-grading for jumbos; largest 20″ carryover. Devereaux Lake 24 16 0.67 Low catch rate likely due to early stocking and predation by cormorants; largest 22″ broodstock. Haven Lake 25 90 3.60 Largest 18″ triploid. Howell Lake 21 20 0.95 Plus 42 released, total CPUE=2.95. – many catch-and-release anglers. Panhandle Lake 0 0 NA 4-H Camp closed and limited angler access. Phillips Lake 36 44 1.22 Plus 30 released, total CPUE=2.05. Some high-grading for jumbos; largest 16″. Robbins Lake 20 20 1.00 Largest 14″ jumbo. Stump Lake 38 97 2.55 Plus 56 fish released, total CPUE=4.0. Light pressure, anglers were satisfied. Tiger Lake 66 107 1.62 Plus 45 released, total CPUE=2.3. Some high-grading for jumbos; largest 16″ triploid. Wildberry Lake 10 1 0.10 Lakeside owners happy with fish stocked. Wood Lake 8 8 1.00 Plus 12 released, total CPUE=2.5. Some high-grading for jumbos to 14″. Wooten Lake 56 138 2.46 Plus 67 released, total CPUE=3.66. Some high-grading for jumbos; largest 17″ cutthroat and 18″ rainbow. Okanogan Alta Lake 127 332 2.61 Yearling rainbow 9″. Carryover rainbow 13″. Conconully Lake 121 251 2.07 Yearling rainbow 10-11″. Carryover rainbow 14″. Largest fish 24″. Conconully Res. 65 130 2.00 Yearling rainbow 11″. Carryover rainbow 14″. Largest fish 20″. Fish Lake 93 272 2.92 Yearling rainbow 10-11″. Pearrygin Lake 33 146 4.42 Yearling rainbow 10″. Carryover rainbow 14″. Triploid rainbow 15-17 inches. Pacific Black Lake 28 11 0.39 Plus 3 released, total CPUE= .5. Largest fish 3.25 lbs, 19 3/8 inches. Pend Oreille Big Meadow Lake 8 22 2.75 Largest fish was a 14″ rainbow. Cold and snowing, windy. Yokum Lake 11 28 2.55 One 12.5″ cutthroat. Cool and windy. Pierce Bay Lake 107 401 3.75 253 catchables, 100 jumbos, 48 carryovers; largest 16″. Clear Lake 91 290 3.19 Plus 205 released, total CPUE=5.4. Kokanee up to 13″, many fish greater than 12, a few greater than 16″. Ohop Lake 11 17 1.55 Plus 16 released, total CPUE=3.0. Lots of anglers, bite a little slow, cold and windy. Rapjohn Lake 68 219 3.22 Plus 30 released, total CPUE=3.7.Happy anglers, most fish greater than 12″, many greater than 16″. A few crappie. Silver Lake 69 166 2.41 Plus 47 released, total CPUE=3.1. Anglers happy to see resort open, brown bullhead catch higher than normal this time of year. Spanaway Lake 9 13 1.44 Cold, wet and windy. Not much effort. Tanwax Lake 60 126 2.10 Plus 57 released, total CPUE=3.1. Lots of anglers, fishing a little slow. Anglers familiar with the lake caught limits – lots of fish still in lake! Skagit Erie Lake 46 186 4.04 Plus 57 released, total CPUE=5.3. Happy anglers enjoyed triploid trout. Heart Lake 31 146 4.71 Plus 49 releases, total CPUE=6.3. Best fishing in a long time, anglers liked triploid trout. McMurray Lake 74 281 3.80 Plus 35 released, total CPUE=4.3. Anglers liked size, catch rate and condition of fish. Sixteen Lake 35 71 2.03 Plus 22 released, total CPUE=2.7. 4 holdovers (16″). Skamania Kidney Lake 36 47 1.31 Plus 99 released, total CPUE=4. Anglers happy to catch and release fish. One large brown trout 2+ lbs caught. Northwestern Reservoir 9 28 3.11 Plus 114 released. Swift Reservoir 46 175 3.80 Plus 23 released, total CPUE=4.3. 109 of the catch were coho, plus 66 rainbow. Snohomish Armstrong Lake 26 66 2.54 Plus 48 released, total CPUE=4.4. Light rain. Bosworth Lake 27 68 2.52 Plus 83 released, total CPUE=5.6. Cold. Echo Lake (Maltby) Not surveyed. Howard Lake 65 182 2.80 Plus 64 released, total CPUE=3.8. Ki Lake 51 95 1.86 Plus 59 released, total CPUE=3.0. Cold and breezy. Martha Lake (AM) 30 70 2.33 Plus 55 released, total CPUE= 4.2. Good mix of adults and kids. Riley Lake 32 95 2.97 Plus 52 released, total CPUE=4.6. Anglers satisfied with fish size. Serene Lake 17 25 1.47 Plus 15 released, total CPUE=2.4. Some limits, some 100% released. Stickney Lake 1 2 2.00 Plus 2 released, total CPUE=4. Cold and windy. Storm Lake 10 43 4.30 Plus 14 released, total CPUE=5.7. Lower effort, trout healthy. Wagner Lake 1 1 1.00 Windy and cold. Spokane Badger Lake 64 109 1.70 Largest rainbow caught was 23″. Clear Lake 38 22 0.58 Fish Lake 104 105 1.01 Several 22-27″ tiger trout caught. Fishtrap Lake 35 77 2.20 West Medical Lake 81 180 2.22 Williams Lake 90 211 2.34 Stevens Cedar Lake 10 50 5.00 Largest fish was a 13′ rainbow. Cool and windy. Deep Lake 7 25 3.57 11″ rainbow and 11″ cutthroat checked. Cool and windy. Mudgett Lake 8 20 2.50 Largest fish was a 19″ rainbow. Cool and windy. Rocky Lake 19 84 4.42 Largest fish was a 14″ rainbow. Very windy – some trees down. Starvation Lake 13 43 3.31 Largest fish was a 13″ rainbow. Cool and windy. Waitts Lake 27 64 2.37 Largest fish was a 20″ brown trout. Cool and windy. Thurston Clear Lake 64 237 3.70 Plus 83 released, total CPUE=5.0. Best fishing in last few years. Catch was mostly 12-14″ diploid fish with a few legal plants at 9-11″. Deep Lake 64 131 2.05 Plus 29 released, total CPUE= 2.5. Fishing good for most anglers but effort was lower due to weather. Hicks Lake 38 32 0.84 Plus 5 released, total CPUE= 1. Fishing relatively poor. Most fish caught were 12-14″ jumbo diploids, few legal plants observed. Long Lake 37 111 3.00 Plus 19 released, total CPUE= 3.5. Great fishing relative to recent years. Rainbows up to 18″. McIntosh Lake 70 124 1.77 Plus 127 released, total CPUE= 3.6. Good fishing with many rainbows up to 14″. Pattison Lake 60 106 1.77 Plus 66 released, total CPUE= 2.9. Many large fish in creel. Several brood stock up to 20″ observed. About 40% of the catch was legal plants. Summit Lake 65 174 2.68 Plus 48 released, total CPUE= 3.4. Many carryover fish observed in the creel (14-17″) Effort down due to weather. Whatcom Cain Lake 28 75 2.68 Plus 32 released, total CPUE=3.8. Catch rates a little low, but anglers happy with size and condition of fish. Padden Lake 46 156 3.39 Plus 15 released, total CPUE=3.7. 46 of the 156 fish kept were triploids. Lots of families despite crowded boat ramp and harsh weather. Silver Lake 192 316 1.65 Plus 113 released, total CPUE=2.2. Toad Lake 43 110 2.56 Plus 101 released, total CPUE=4.9. Lots of triploids caught.