With beefier triploids bolstering the main contingent of bigger rainbow trout this spring, anglers on Whatcom County’s four hatchery stocked lakes were treated, according to the numbers, to some of the best opening-day fishing anywhere in Northwest Washington.
Between Cain, Padden and Silver lake, anglers took home an average of more than four trout per creel, according to creel survey reports compiled by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Factor in the rainbows personal use fishers reported catching but letting go and the average number of ‘handled’ trout exceeded five fish — the statewide standard daily limit — on those three waters.
That means anglers who were using lures had the luxury of choosing from their overall catch the chunkiest rainbows to take home.
Annette Hoffman, WDFW Region 4 Fish Program Manager said that virtually across the board, fishers interviewed at 31 lakes from King to Whatcom County Saturday morning expressed satisfaction with the bigger sized rainbows they encountered.
Providing larger rainbow trout, both catchables and triploids, for its lowland lakes stocking program has been a WDFW priority for several years now, Hoffmann said.
She noted that reports indicated this spring’s heftier trout seemed to take the edge off the less-than-hospitable weather conditions stalwart anglers at many lakes braved during early morning hours. Fishing pressure was reported lighter than normal.
At press time there had been no unusual incidents reported on this opener.
Cain Lake anglers, though enduring steady rain and chilly temperatures, led opening-day fishers in Whatcom County with an average take home of 4.4 trout and an aggregate — kept and released) catch rate of 7.4 trout. No triploids were stocked in Cain for the opener, but rainbows in its regular yield ran up to 12.5 inches is size.
At Silver Lake 80 personal use (recreational) fishers who were checked between 7 and 11 a.m. retained an average of 4.3 fish. When released fish were added into mix the average was 6.2 handled trout. Silver also offered up the lankiest reported catch of the day, a 20.5-inch rainbow.
Bellingham’s Lake Padden saw about a 50 percent drop in boat-borne fishers over last year, but this Saturday’s hardy angling set took home an average 4.1 fish per creel. With reprieved fish added in, the opening day catch average was 5.5 trout per rod. Triploids up to 16.5-inches made a conspicuous showing in catches at Padden and the aforementioned fishers afloat who were interviewed also reported landing five cutthroat trout and three kokanee or silvers, both likely originating from past years fry plants.
At Toad Lake, limits were said to be the norm, but the 26 anglers checked took home 3.8 trout per creel of the 4.4 on average they brought to hand.
Anglers in neighboring Skagit County appear to have borne the brunt of the unfriendly skies with heavy rain reported at Fidalgo Island’s famed Erie Lake. Though the creel census average was 1.9 trout per fisher for the morning a good dose of triploids took some of the sting out of the cold and wet conditions. At nearby Heart Lake anglers kept an average of 1.3 rainbows from a handled mean of 3.3 trout per rod.
South of Mt Vernon at Lake McMurray anglers reportedly brought to hand an average of 4.0 trout, retaining 2.9 of them with a smattering of nice holdovers including one to 16 inches.
In the same area, the business-like contingent of Lake Sixteen fishers endured a morning’s worth of rain but it took them between 1.5 to two hours to limit (catching and keeping five fish), perhaps because of the average 3.8 fish interviewees said they brought to hand, they kept 3.3 of them.
WDFW’s hatchery program produced and released 52,500 catchable rainbows (ranging from 11-13 inches) into the four Whatcom waters and 39,500 in Skagit County’s big four supplemented lakes.
Of the aforementioned waters, larger triploid or sterilized rainbow trout, purchased from a private fish grower, were put into Toad (300), Padden (800), Heart (450) and Erie (650). Slated also to get the 1.5-pound triploids this spring, mainly in May, are lakes Terrell and Squalicum in Whatcom County as well as Skagit’s Campbell, Clear, Vogler and Grandy lakes.
With the numbers of rainbows, cutthroat and kokanee in area waters anglers can expect good to excellent fishing well into May and June, before these waters warm.
For more opening day creel check numbers from elsewhere around the state, starting Sunday check on line at wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/creel/lowland/2015.html.