As many as 300,000 people are expected to fish for trout this weekend, the opening of the lowland lake trout season. Some will be content to put a glob of worms on a hook, then watch a bobber from a chair. Some will use other baits such as Power Bait, marshmallows or corn. Those wanting more action will cast a Mepps Black Fury spinner or fly cast with a woolly bugger.
But what about the fish? That trout you hold in your hands most likely just an egg about a year ago.
From its beginnings as an egg no bigger than 0.2 inches in diameter, the hatchery-raised trout was planted as a two- to three-inch fingerling in 2009 or an eight- to 10-inch catchable size fish this spring.
Most of the lakes in Pierce and Thurston counties are planted with a Goldendale strain of rainbow trout. That is a strain produced from Meader Creek and Yakima strains. The Meader Creek stock came from a trout farm outside Pocatello, Idaho, while the Yakima strain came from the Yakima hatchery.
There are a number of factors that make the Goldendale strain appealing to the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The agency looks for the best value for the $2 to $3 million it spends on the rainbow trout hatchery program.
“They do well in the hatchery. The eggs are available at the right time of the year. They also do well on the feed we give them,” Jim Uehara, the department’s inland fish manager, said of the Goldendale strain.
Those factors are important to hatchery managers. But there is another feature that makes them a preferred choice for stocking lakes.
“They return to the creel. When we plant them, people can catch them. Once they’re planted, they bite really well,” he said.
So, what are your chances?
This season the department plans to stock 209,600 trout eight to 12 inches long in 20 Pierce County lakes, and 140,500 trout in 14 lakes in Thurston County.
“The numbers look pretty much the same as they have in the past four or five years,” Uehara said. “Where numbers might be down, we’ve been able to plant some larger fish.”
Jeffrey P. Mayor: 253-597-8640
New for this season is the option for anglers to fish with two rods. Anglers may purchase a two-pole endorsement that allows them to fish with two rods in most of Washington’s lakes. Gear rules and daily limits still apply.
Cost: $24.50 and $6.50 for seniors. You can buy an endorsement for a second fishing pole at an authorized license dealer or online at fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov. Anglers under age 15 must have a fishing license with their two-pole endorsement. They can obtain the license for free at a dealer or online. Although the license is free for juveniles, the cost for the two-pole endorsement is $24.
List of lakes: The use of two poles will not be allowed at every lake. The following local lakes have a one-pole limit:
Pierce County: Bradley Lake, De Coursey Pond, Ohop Lake, Tanwax Lake and Wapato Lake.
Thurston County: Kennedy Creek Pond, Long’s Pond, Mclane Creek Ponds and Munn Lake.
Go to wdfw.wa.gov/licensing/twopole/lakes.php for the complete list of lakes where two poles are not allowed.
Season dates: Depending on the lake, fishing is open Saturday through the end of October or November. Find information for specific lakes at wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regs_seasons.html.
Where to go: Tips on fishing areas, listed by county, can be found in “Washington Fishing Prospects: Where To Catch Fish In the Evergreen State,” available at wdfw.wa.gov/fish/prospects/index.htm.
Licenses: Recreational licenses are required for residents and nonresidents 15 years of age and older. An adult resident freshwater license costs $24. Go to wdfw.wa.gov/fish/prospects/licensing.htm for more license options.
Trout by the numbers
The total number of trout stocked in lakes and streams across the state for this year’s fishery, including those planted in waters that opened earlier this spring or are open year-round.
The number of trout fry (2-3 inches long) stocked last spring and fall into 367 lowland lakes and 163 high lakes. Those that survived are now a catchable size of eight to 12 inches long.
Catchable size (8-12 inches long) trout being stocked this spring into 334 waters. If the fish, based on an average length of 10 inches, were laid end to end, they would stretch 6,439 miles, three times the distance between Tacoma and Cleveland.
The estimated number of men, women and children who will fish the opening weekend of lowland lake trout season. That’s about the equivalent of the combined populations of Tacoma, Olympia and Lakewood.
The number of 2-year-old “jumbos” and surplus hatchery broodstock trout (11/2 to 5 pounds each) being stocked into 178 lakes.
The number of triploid trout (11/2 pound average) being stocked into 105 lakes.
Source: State Department of Fish and Wildlife