Outdoors

Popular Whatcom lakes get trout infusion for opener

With yet another boost in both annualized catchable and triploid stocking rates, Whatcom County anglers this spring have awaiting them even more rainbow trout in popular area lakes for the Saturday, April 25 opener.

For spring 2015, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife raised to 52,500 the total number of 11- to 13-inch trout going into Padden (22,000), Silver (16,000), Toad (5,000) and Cain (9,500) lakes.

Besides that enticement, four lakes (Padden (800 in April), Toad (300 in April), Squalicum (150 in May) and Terrell (800 in May)) here will have parceled among them 2,050 heftier, so-called triploid (sterile) rainbow trout tipping the scales at up to a pound and a half.

Joining these latter-day stocked ‘catchables’ and ‘jumbos’ are millions of other gamefish produced in the state’s hatchery system that were released as much fry or fingerlings in the last several years to grow into creel candidates in the wild.

Those ‘small’ fish releases include several generations of tiny kokanee fry going mainly into Lake Whatcom with lesser numbers into lakes Samish and Padden; brown trout fry, a European cousin of North American salmonids, put into Squalicum Lake; and coastal cutthroat trout decanted as fingerlings (October plantings) into Padden, Silver and Terrell lakes.

If this infusion of gamefish is to their liking, trout anglers can make direct investments to increase stocking rates by buying a two-pole endorsement to go with their regular fishing license. These permits are valid along with the basic annual freshwater or combination fishing license from April 1 to March 31 and cost an extra $14.80 (seniors age 70 and older pay $6).

Proceeds from this largely lake-fishing focused permit are solely used to bolster the department’s hatchery programs including those for trout. They make it legal for bearers to use two rods for go after their one daily limit of five trout (from most waters). Teens and children age 14 and under do not need a basic fishing license.

Besides the spectrum of obliging, cultured-origin trout, the annual spring/summer lake fishing season allows personal use (recreational) anglers the opportunity to fish for wild, naturally reproducing trout in selected waters.

More stringent regulations protect these sensitive populations allowing anglers to fish while fostering appreciation and respect for native fish.

Insofar as the personal use (sport) fishing regulations are concerned, anglers actually will have a two-month extension on the old regime or rulebook this year. The fish and wildlife commission changed the annual regulations period (effective dates) to accommodate salmon rule-making.

THE REGS, THEY AREN’T A-CHANGIN… YET

In a departure from past years, the 2014-15 or permanent fishing regulations will remain in force (unless superceded by emergency orders) an extra two months through June 30, 2015 at which time the 2015-16 set takes effect.

Until the end of June keep the old dog-eared volume on the coffee table at home, in the magazine holder on the back of your car seat and in your boats tackle or glove box.

Fishers interested in marine pursuits such as shrimping and halibut should log onto WDFW’s Web portals at wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/shrimp/ or wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/creel/halibut/pugetsound.html.

It you can’t get to a hardcopy of the personal use (sport) fishing regulations or want to be alerted to any emergency rule changes before heading out go on line to: http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/.

Information on personal use fishing license requirements and options can be had at: https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov/.

ANGLERS CAN EAT & COMPETE

For the start of Washington’s six-month, fair-weather trout season, WDFW managers predict a turnout of hundreds of thousands spring trout anglers, the vast majority in a positive winter’s over frame of mind.

Hereabouts, local celebrations of this annual rite of spring include a who’re-the-best-trout-catchers contest at Silver Lake.

Coinciding with the big opener are several morning, fund-raiser breakfasts, including one at Silver Lake at the county park lodge (from 7 to11 a.m.) that is put on every year by the Ferndale Kiwanis Club that bolsters their area outreach efforts.

A second morning feast (7 a.m. to noon) is held by the South Whatcom Fire Authority at its Station 22 on Lake Whatcom Boulevard at Sudden Valley. This, too, is a charitable event with proceeds benefitting the district’s community support program.

FISHING JUST FOR KIDS

For the youngest anglers the weather, time between bites, and sitting still for more than a minute can overwhelm the fun of fishing.

It sometimes works better for families to put off their initial trouting adventure of the spring from a week or two to a month and then focus just on the kid’s adventure

Here are several free fishing events slated for May and June reserved solely for young fishers:

* Sedro-Woolley at the North State Complex pond, organized by the Wildcat Steelhead Club (Saturday, May 2).

* Bellingham in Whatcom Falls Park derby pond, put on by the Northwest Washington Steelheaders Club (Saturday, May 9).

In June, two Whatcom County kids’ contests are scheduled for:

* Lynden at the Fishtrap Creek site in Lynden City Park (sponsored by the Camel’s Club of Lynden).

* Sumas at the Johnson Creek site (organized by the Sumas American Legion Post).

WHEN AFLOAT DO AS THE RULES SAY

Whatcom County’s boating and swimming ordinance (Title 11) mandates both the equipping of watercraft and the wearing by certain passengers of life preserving gear (county ordinance 11.12.030) when afloat.

Another legal obligation for boaters is the registration of certain watercraft and the proper display of identification numbers, which are made legally binding by both state and county laws (Whatcom County ordinance 11.04.030).

To review the complete language of Whatcom County’s boating and other ordinances, on the Web visit codepublishing.com/wa/whatcomcounty/.

Also remember that unless in an exempt category (age 57 and older, a watercraft renter or visitor from out-of-state), all boat operators must pass the course and then carry a Washington State Boater Education Card. For details log onto: parks.wa.gov/442/Mandatory-Boater-Education.

Almost all public water accesses these days come with small fees attached for their use and you must be familiar with the jurisdiction that owns and manages the launch site to determine what’s required and owed.

Buying a long-term (annual) Washington fishing license gets the holder a free WDFW vehicle use permit that enables them when visiting state fish and wildlife department lands to launch and park without paying an additional charge.

For all state parks and forestlands a $30 Discover Pass is required. On national forests in designated locations a Northwest Forest Pass is required.

All such permits must be prominently displayed when on the access grounds to avoid getting a reminder, warning or a citation.

Except for certain smaller personal types, watercraft launched onto and used on Lake Whatcom must be inspected and certified to be free of invasive aquatic plant and wildlife. They must also display a sticker attesting to that. For details on the inspection program and what’s behind go to City of Bellingham’s Web portal at cob.org/services/environment/lake-whatcom/ais-program.aspx.

BE ON WATCH for THE BAD ONES

Skyrocketing costs of combating non-native aquatic plant and animal pests once they get a foothold are plaguing all levels of governments as well as private enterprises (hydroelectric facilities and marinas) associated the affected waters.

Jurisdictions yet to suffer such infestations tout prevention as the best form of defense.

These days anglers should expect to meet state or local inspectors who may give their boat and gear the once over for the presence of the species of mollusks and vegetation that worry managers.

Federal, state and local laws now require boat owners and operators, regardless of the size of their craft, to be knowledgeable about aquatic invasive plant and animal species and most importantly take steps to make sure their craft are pest free.

Details on each jurisdiction’s focus:

* State fish and wildlife Web site: wdfw.wa.gov/ais/

* State ecology Web site: ecy.wa.gov/programs/wq/nonpoint/CleanBoating/aquatic.html

* Federal: invasivespeciesinfo.gov/unitedstates/wa.shtml

SERIES FEATURES FISHING

Today’s lake round-up focuses on the spectrum of publicly accessible waters in western Whatcom County that will see the lion’s share of angler attention come the fourth Saturday in April.

With Highway 20 through the North Cascades open early, on Saturday, April 25 the Herald will profile lakes available for spring trouting in the Okanogan region of North Central Washington.

On Sunday, April 26 the third in this series of round-ups will detail lowland gamefish lakes in neighboring Skagit County.

Be sure to check back for details on other emerging fishing options such as backcountry and high lakes, summer salmon season, fall river fishing and winter steelheading.

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