Perhaps the most heavily visited of opening day waters by virtue of its easily accessibility shores, Padden almost never disappoints. Hefty rainbows to about three-quarters of a pound will top creel counts with the occasional a few kokanee thrown in. Gas motors are banned, shore fishing space abounds in the city park and there are two docks.
Padden's expanses are the closest thing to angler's heaven we have, and Saturday it will live up to its reputation as a trout producer. No one, including bankies, need go home with an empty creel on this opener. During the opening day free-for-all almost anything works from bait floated off the bottom with marshmallows to trolling with a wide array of lures.
Season: fourth Saturday in April to Oct. 31.
Angler amenities: two floating docks and trail access around the entire lake, a fully accessible paved revetment for disabled fishers on the northwest shore. Hourly Whatcom Transit bus service.
Surface area: 152 acres.
Stocking for 2008: 17,000 catchable rainbows plus 60,000 kokanee fry in 2005.
In the catch: primarily hatchery rainbow trout with some kokanee and a few cutthroat trout.
Special rules: seasonal opening, otherwise statewide bag and size limits.
Boat launch: Bellingham Parks – gravel, suited for car-toppers and carry-ins only. By city ordinance, gas motors are not allowed.
Getting there: drive about two miles south on Samish Way from Interstate 5. Parking is available on the golf course (east) side of the park or near the tennis courts (northwest side). Launch parking spills over to the golf course lot.