Thousands of anglers will cast a line into statewide waters for Saturday’s opening day of trout fishing in search of the “big one.”
And just like last season, anglers should like what they find lurking in more than 500 lakes and ponds, with a more sizable batch of fish planted.
“People should notice that our average size of what we refer to as catchable rainbow trout will be much larger,” said Chris Donley, the state Fish and Wildlife inland fisheries manager.
Two years ago, state Fish and Wildlife came up with a cost-effective way to produce larger trout in their hatcheries, which was very successful judging by the reaction of anglers surveyed on opening day last year.
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The updated standardized size of the trout is 10 to 12 inches, and will appeal more than the 7- to 9-inchers planted in previous seasons.
“People noticed the difference (during last April’s opener), and I think everybody was pretty happy so we are trying to duplicate that again this year,” said Donley who found in surveys taken last year that 77 percent of licensed state anglers target trout. “It should be great fishing for the upcoming opener and the rest of the spring season.”
This year, state Fish and Wildlife is expected to plant 16.5 million trout, and of those, 2.3 million will be the larger-sized catchable trout.
To further boost enjoyment, trout plants will also include 115,000 “jumbos” weighing up to 11 pounds up from 110,131 jumbos last year.
Fisheries also purchased from private growers more than 50,000 triploid trout averaging 1½ pounds apiece to be planted in hundreds of lakes and ponds. Triploids are sterile trout that can grow rapidly during their first year.
Add to that, millions of trout fry, fingerlings and smaller-sized trout stocked last spring and fall, which should now be 8 to 12 inches long. Survival rate of these fish largely depends on water conditions.
In the Puget Sound region, 37 lakes in King County will be stocked with trout; 20 in Pierce County; 10 in Skagit County; 30 in Snohomish County; 15 in Thurston County; five in Island County; nine in Jefferson County; nine in Kitsap County; 29 in Mason County; and four in San Juan Island County.
Opening day advice
Gear: An inexpensive rod and reel combo will cost $30 to $50 and a good one $80 to $200. The length of a fishing pole should be 6 to 7 feet, and relatively light, in the 4- to 10-pound range. A medium-sized spinning reel holding more than 100 yards of 6-pound test fishing line will do.
On the end of line tips: Use a number 9 egg sinker and a small barrel swivel. The length of leader is where many get confused, and the store-bought pre-tied leaders are way too short. Leaders should be 3- to 6-pound test and 20 to 30 inches long. When using the popular paste-type baits like Berkley Power Baits, go with a No. 14 or 16 treble hook or a small egg hook in a size 8 or 10.
Baits and flies: Take a small swivel with a 5- or 6-foot leader attached to a common pattern early in the season like a Woolly Bugger trout fly in a size 8 or 10 black or black and olive color. Most freshly planted trout are close to the surface, so troll a fly weightless. Other good “old-school” baits are night crawlers, salmon eggs and scented marshmallows.
Tips for trolling in a boat: Use a small spoon like a Dick Nite, Triple Teaser, Luhr Jensen Super Duper, wedding ring or a gang-flasher with a worm, maggot or salmon egg laced with a tiny piece of scented dough bait.
Fish location: Most of the freshly planted trout tend to school near the surface. Fish also hang in the areas where they were planted, which are generally around the banks, boat ramps and docks. For the first couple of weeks, the trout will stay just below the surface in 3 to 5 feet of water.
Fishing license: Be sure to purchase a fishing license (kids under 15 fish for free) and a Discover Pass. For details on licensing, go to http://wdfw.wa.gov.
Kids fishing events
State Fish and Wildlife and other groups such as the C.A.S.T. for Kids Foundation offer a wide variety of activities. They are:
•The Sky Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited free Kid’s Trout Fishing Day is April 27 at Lake Tye in Monroe. Children under age 12 can fish for free from 8 a.m.-1 p.m. in a netted area at the south end of the lake. There will also be an adult fishing derby 2 p.m.-5 p.m. Cost is $10. Details: 206-818-2991 or email email@example.com.
•The Black Lake Fishing Derby for kids age 2 to 14 is April 26 in Ilwaco, and is sponsored by the City of Ilwaco. Register at www.ilwaco-wa.gov/forms/fishingderby.shtml. Details: 800-451-2542 or www.funbeach.com.
•The “Hooked On Fishing” Opening Day Trout Derby is Saturday at 12:01 a.m. until noon on Lake Wilderness. The event is hosted by the Greater Maple Valley – Black Diamond Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with Maple Valley Rotary and the City of Maple Valley. Cost is $2, plus an optional $5 tagged derby ticket. Details: www.maplevalleychamber.org/hooked-on-fishing.
•C.A.S.T. For Kids Foundation events, go to www.castforkids.org/events-calendar/fishing-kids-events/
•State Fish and Wildlife fishing events, go to http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/kids/events.html. Fisheries also has a great resource listing lakes by county and best times to catch fish at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/washington/.
firstname.lastname@example.org or 206-464-8780