A day for fishing, friends, fun

SUMMIT LAKE — Caleb Hathaway found lifetime fishing fame — at least among his family and friends — when he accidentally gave a nice trout a reprieve from the frying pan Saturday morning.

“Whoops!” Hathaway, 14, said as the hatchery rainbow trout flipped into the lake. “He came out of my hand!”

Caleb’s family and friends — perhaps a little weary from watching the Olympia High School student showboat while catching a few nice fish in a row — applauded his blunder.

“Green Power Eggs are working,” Caleb said. “And a little patience.”

“And holding on tight to the fish,” shot back his mom, Sara Hathaway.

The Hathaway clan was a small part of the estimated 300,000 anglers who celebrated the first day of lowland lake trout fishing season throughout Western Washington on Saturday morning.

Few anglers braved the early morning cold to cast lines from Summit Lake’s bank, but dozens of anglers in boats bobbed and trolled around the lake.

Just about everyone with a fishing rod caught fish.

Others fished for information that will help improve fishing.

Larry Phillips, state Department of Fish and Wildlife fish biologist, checked angler catches to gather information on the survival of stocked trout and kokanee.

Fish and Wildlife stocked Summit Lake with 30,000 pan-sized trout and 1,000 larger trout for opening day.

Phillips said that it appears that stocking kokanee, a landlocked sockeye salmon, when they’re about 4 inches long might result in more fish surviving — and make for better fishing — than stocking smaller fish.

Opening day is one of the most popular days in the outdoor calendar, and it’s often a day of family traditions and first fishing trips.

Three generations of the Neer family — 6-year-old William Neer, dad Mike Neer and grandfather Bill Neer — set out in the family’s small aluminum boat just after dawn and returned about two hours later with a few nice fish.

“We didn’t keep our limits,” Bill Neer said. “We just kept enough to eat — we don’t horde fish.”

“I caught most of them,” piped up young William, who trolled a Mepps spinner for his fish while his dad and grandfather cast flies.

“That’s true,” Bill Neer said. “And he caught the first one right away, which was fantastic.”

William and Mike Neer live in Olympia, and William said another trip to Summit Lake would be a good idea.

“I like fishing, and I really like catching fish,” William said as he jumped around on the shoreline rocks — while the older guys loaded the boat on the trailer.

Not far away, Caleb Hathaway lobbied Don Gregor — a family friend and official rod-rigger and trout-lander — for even more fishing.

“Don, we’re definitely going to have to come out here again,” Caleb said as he played another fish. “We could stay out here all day.”