Highway's open, eastside trout beckon

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDMay 10, 2014 

With the North Cascades seasonal gateway to Eastern Washington more spring trout waters are readily available for anglers here willing to make a road trip.

Many of those Okanogan Lakes have already established their 2014 bona fides being among the hundreds statewide that opened Saturday, April 26.

Jeff Korth, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife's Region 2 Fish Program Manager, said first day results throughout central Washington were pretty good.

Anglers said they were quite satisfied with the size to which last year's fingerling rainbows had grown this winter, despite the serious competition in many trout-managed lakes from unlawfully introduced fish species, Korth reported.

With not a great deal of hatchery space or funding, the department seeks to plant smaller rainbows in most Central Washington lakes summer and fall of the previous year and have them grow to at least 12 inches by the spring opener, Korth said. This stocking strategy is far less expensive for the department and to fishing license buyers it represents enabling it to maintain interesting and fishable populations in a lot more waters.

However, that can be difficult to accomplish when unthinking, callous people illegally slip bass, sunfish, catfish, carp or shiners into those waters to either prey on or snatch the food out of the mouths of the trout.

WDFW biologists must monitor many lakes to make sure the management prescription is being met and if not, determine which should get the more expensive fish raised through the winter at a hatchery.

Korth said he was pleased that several Grant County waters, Blue and Park lakes, with particularly challenging interspecies competition produced good catches of rainbows 3.6 trout and 2.9 trout per angler at or above the target size.

Another thing noted by creel surveyors on the opening was that the angling advantage definitely went to the boat-borne anglers at many lakes who consistently reported limits while bank anglers on the same waters had less successful, Korth said.

Pearrygin Lake, the first Okanogan stop for many visiting Northwest Washington anglers, treated its opening day faithful quite generously yielding a composite catch rate (kept and released) of 4.4 rainbows per angler and a take-home tally of 2.9 fish per angler.

At the two-lake town of Conconully, anglers on the lake brought to hand nearly four trout each while taking home an average of 3.4 fish. On the same day at Conconully's reservoir, fishers landed an average of 3.8 rainbows but each put just 3.0 in their creels.

Occasionally there are slow starters at season's outset and at the Sinlahekin's Fish Lake north of Conconully trout fishers toiled for just under two fish each. Alta Lake above the mouth of the Methow south of Pateros turned out a little more than two trout per interviewed angler.

Korth said that Alta, with a state park on its shores, since being rehabbed, has had kokanee added to its menu and it's developing a reputation for good fall fishing as the silvers seem to really come on then.

Korth also recommended trout seekers visiting the Chelan area stop in at Wapato Lake the largest of three waters on the heights above Manson on Chelan's irrigated lower north-shore. Opening day anglers there were treated to a 4.6 fish per rod composite average leaving with 4.2 fish each and according to recent report Wapato's rainbows were running from 12-16 inches.

These and other trout stocked lakes through Central and North Central Washington will continue to provide good rainbow fishing until the weather heats up in earnest in June said Korth. Anglers may also want to pencil in an off-day fishing trip during their fall hunt forays on trout waters open then.

When they're open if you decide to fish for Columbia Basin streams, reservoirs and some lakes for salmon, trout or steelhead be sure if its required to have an $8 Columbia River Salmon and Steelhead Endorsement to your basic fishing license. This permit provides critical revenue to carry out monitoring programs on sport fisheries required under federal Endangered species mandates.

TWO MORE RAZOR STANZAS

At least eight more razor clam dig days have been added by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to the 2013-14 season calendar in a stint that starts May 13 and involves four beach management sectors on Washington coast.

With public health (marine toxin) clearance already given, the Twin Harbors sector will be available all eight days; Long Beach five days; Copalis, north of Grays Harbor three days and Mocrocks two days. For the specific dates, check the Herald's Outdoors Blog.

Beaches are legally open for digging between midnight and noon.

There could be yet another sequence of six open days the last week of this month starting May 27 (and including Monday, June 1), if the clams at that time get a fit-for-consumption bill from state health officials.

State managers say the Copalis sector openings are being made possible by the Quinault Tribe which has ceded a portion of its allocation under the harvest sharing plan

"This is a perfect example of how WDFW and QIN work together to co-manage this resource," said Fish and Wildlife Director Phil Anderson. "We appreciate QIN's willingness to share a portion of their harvest quota with us thereby contributing to the success of these final digs and providing an economic boost to businesses in the area."

A condition of participation in the digs at Long Beach and Twin Harbors is that diggers and other visitors must not disturb western snowy plovers. The rare small white shorebirds nest on the state's coastal beaches from April through August and are protected under the federal and state threatened and endangered species statutes.

Upland beach areas that are conspicuously signed at Long Beach and Twin Harbors are closed to public entry. At Long Beach, the closed area is located north of Oysterville Road from the state park boundary north to Leadbetter Point. At Twin Harbors, the closed area is located just south of Cranberry Beach Road and continues south for approximately 1.5 miles.

For updates on upcoming razor dig info, log onto the WDFW Web site wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/razorclams/current.html.

Doug Huddle, the Bellingham Herald's outdoors correspondent, since 1983, has written a weekly fishing and hunting column that now appears Sundays. Read his blog and contact him at http://pblogs.bellinghamherald.com/outdoors.

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