State Fish and Wildlife, continuing a program that began six years ago, has stocked 17 lakes in Washington with trout, a program that has found its audience.
While many will shop until they drop the day after Thanksgiving, thousands of anglers are making plans to fish at 17 statewide lakes for freshly planted trout.
“The fall plants we do in lakes for Black Friday are for much larger-sized trout (averaging 15 to 16 inches and weighing up to 3 pounds),” said Larry Phillips, the state Fish and Wildlife inland fish manager. “Some of our work and studies suggest there is a huge return on the catchability for these fish we plant.
“ … What we’ve learned is that most of the trout we stock in the spring are harvested by the end of the season (most lowland lakes close after Oct. 31). Plus there is a natural mortality and predation rate on them, and they simply don’t survive.”
The Black Friday trout plants were first conceived by a state Fish and Wildlife biologist in southwest Washington about six years ago, and it was well received in the few area lakes where fish plants occurred.
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“It caught on so well and got the attention of (former state Fish and Wildlife director Phil Anderson), and since then we’ve tried to expand on it,” said Phillips, who mentioned Oregon has also caught onto the trend.
In fact, the Black Friday trout fishery is so popular that last year’s opener at Kress Lake in Cowlitz County saw the parking lot filled with 500 vehicles.
“It was nuts at Kress, and the response is proof that people are enjoying this late-season planting of trout,” Phillips said. “You couldn’t find a parking space there, and we’re hearing from others to spread the wealth to places in Snohomish and King County in the future. We’d like to develop the program to include more metropolitan area lakes.”
• Clark County (closed for stocking from Nov. 21-24) — Battleground, 2,000; and Klineline, 2,000. Cowlitz County (closed Nov. 21-24) — Kress, 2,000. Lewis County (closed Nov. 21-24) — Fort Borst Pond, 2,000; and South Lewis County Park Pond, 2,000.
• Klickitat County (closed Nov. 21-24) — Rowland, 2,000. Mason County — Spencer, 4,200. Pierce County — Tanwax, 1,000. Thurston County — Black, 3,000; Offutt, 1,000; and Long, 1,000.
• In Eastern lakes opening the day after Thanksgiving include Fourth of July in Adams County, 80,000 fry and fingerlings were planted last May; Hog Canyon in Spokane County, 15,000 fry and fingerlings; Hatch, 10,000 and Williams, 3,800 large-sized trout in Stevens County; and North Elton in Yakima County, 2,000 averaging ½ pound apiece.
• Lake Roosevelt in Stevens County received 750,000 fingerlings last May, and should be 8 to 11 inches in length by now. It is also a good bet for large-sized kokanee through the winter.
• In all, close to 65,000 jumbo-sized rainbow trout averaging 1-plus pounds were also planted in October and early-November in some local west side lakes. They include Beaver, Leland, Teal, Gibbs, Island, Kitsap, Isabella, Kokanee, Nahwatzel, Spencer, Lost, Bonney, Bradley, Harts, Kapowsin, St. Clair, Lawrence and Sylvia.
Ski areas hope for early openings
Skiers and snowboarders will get a jump start to hit the slopes before Thanksgiving as Whistler-Blackcomb Resort announced daily winter operations will begin starting Wednesday from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The opener at the mega-resort comes one day earlier than planned due to recent colder temperatures and snowfall.
The base is 34 inches at the Pig Alley weather station, which sits at an elevation of 5,413 feet on Whistler Mountain. The mountain has received 33 inches of snow since Nov. 1. The forecast also calls for about 18 inches of snow to fall through early next week. Skiers will be required to download from the upper slopes via the gondola as conditions on lower elevations are hazardous.
As for Washington ski areas, many ski areas received some snow from the most recent storms this past week.
Places such as Stevens Pass, Crystal Mountain, Mount Baker, White Pass and Mission Ridge are gearing up for possible early openings if the stars align.
“Right now we are targeting sometime over the Thanksgiving weekend, but the real question mark is we don’t know how much rain or snow we’ll get this weekend,” said Chris Danforth, the vice president of marketing at Stevens Pass Resort.
The National Weather Service is predicting snow from Sunday through Wednesday in the northern Cascades with accumulations up to 9 inches.
In the Central Cascades, the lower elevations areas like the Summit at Snoqualmie will see rain likely through Wednesday melting away any chances, but higher elevation areas such as Crystal Mountain and White Pass should see 3 to 8 inches of snow.