Many happy anglers on opening day of trout fishing in statewide lowland lakes
It was another notable opening day of trout fishing.
April showers. Chilly temperatures. Layers of enthusiasm tucked into layers of warm clothing. A splash of decent fishing. Stringers of trout. And most of all smiling faces.
That was just some of the reaction seen and feedback heard on Saturday’s opening day of trout fishing across hundreds of statewide lakes.
“The trout catches statewide on the opener weren’t that bad and not much different than last year,” said Steve Caromile, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) inland trout manager. “At least we aren’t dealing with rain, wind, or cold weather like we often get for the opener. The colder water temperatures, some in the low 40s, may have slowed down the success rate. The good news is anglers can look forward to catches of fish improving over the next couple of weeks as the weather gets warmer.”
In the Puget Sound region, WDFW creel surveyors reported cooler water temperatures likely slowed down success and noticed a change in catch rates with the better fishing peaking later in the day as the weather warmed up.
“I did a driving tour of Toad, Padden, McMurray, and Martha (Alderwood Manor), and turnout seemed light and catch rates in the morning were on the slow side, which is no surprise,” said Justin Spinelli, a WDFW Puget Sound regional biologist.
Lakes stocked around the greater Puget Sound region were about 5 to 10 degrees cooler and about two weeks behind the normal temperature range for this time of the year. Reports later in the day saw catch rates picked up as the weather gradually warmed up.
“For the second year in a row, we’re seeing a bit of evolution in the time of peak effort on many lakes,” Spinelli said. “Last year we saw effort increase throughout the later morning time period rather than peaking at 9 a.m., which was the tradition in past years.”
Since more spring-like conditions are late to arrive, Spinelli says don’t be surprised to see catches pick up in May and carry into June and early summer.
“I’d encourage folks to get out on lakes in the months ahead,” Spinelli said. “It looks like we’ll have some nice weather next week. Around Puget Sound we’re on par with stocking numbers compared to 2022, so expect plenty of fish to be swimming around.”
In Eastern Washington around the greater Spokane region, it was a mixed bag of success although the quality of the trout stood out, according to WDFW creel surveyors. The day started off a little breezy and cold in the upper 30s, but by early afternoon the sun broke out with temperatures in the 50-degree range.
“I checked Clear Lake in Spokane County where there was some pretty good fishing,” said Danny Garrett, a WDFW regional biologist. “It looks like our fry plant trout are averaging 15 to 16 inches and in nice shape. We’re also seeing some broodstock trout in the 19- to 20-inch range.
Williams Lake in Spokane County was slow and poor water conditions seemed to affect the catch rates. Badger Lake was fishing well, and lot of fry plant trout were averaging 11 to 12 inches, and several two-year-old trout measured in the 16-inch range. Turnout was down at West Medical Lake and bank anglers reported slow success although preseason sampling showed some quality-sized rainbow and brown trout.
Trout by the numbers
The statewide totals for opening day on Saturday (April 22) saw 2,102 anglers surveyed statewide caught 3,819 trout and released 2,076 for an average of 2.8 caught and 1.8 kept per angler. This is a drop compared to 2022 when 2,432 anglers surveyed statewide caught 7,794 trout and released 2,629 for an average of 3.2 caught and 2.1 kept per angler; and 2021 when 2,355 anglers kept 5,149 and released 2,533 for 3.2 and 2.1.
The 2023 trout stocking plan show more than 15.2 million trout will be stocked in statewide lakes. Of those more than 2.1 million are catchable-size trout averaging 10 to 12 inches, and 145,638 “jumbo” trout measuring 14 or more inches long and averaging 1 to 1.5 pounds.
The majority of Eastern Washington opening day lakes are planted annually with fry/fingerling trout. In 2022, more than 12.9-million trout fry/fingerling (1 to 5 inches) were stocked and should average 8 to 12 inches this season.
WDFW will continue to do additional trout stocking in the weeks ahead and should boost fishing opportunities throughout spring and early summer. Go to the 2023 WDFW stocking plan webpage for more information.
As always, please be respectful of fellow anglers and other recreationists, obey posted signage at all water access areas, obey all parking regulations and have a backup plan in case your preferred destination is overcrowded.
There are more than 7,000 lakes, ponds and reservoirs in Washington, and hundreds of WDFW-managed water-access areas, including some with areas accessible for people with disabilities. Other state and federal agencies operate hundreds more. Details on water-access areas can be found on WDFW’s website.
Anglers parking at WDFW vehicle water-access areas are required to display the WDFW Vehicle Access Pass — provided when you buy eligible annual fishing licenses — or a Discover Pass. Anglers visiting Washington State Parks or Department of Natural Resources lands need a Discover Pass. Information on parking passes can be found at WDFW’s website.
WDFW Trout Derby
The WDFW Trout Derby began on opening day and continues through Oct. 31, and the annual statewide trout derby boasts more than 800 prizes worth more than $40,000, which anglers can claim by catching tagged trout in lakes across Washington. More than 100 lakes will feature prize fish in 2023. All the trout have a blue tag attached to their dorsal fin. The derby, held for the past eight years, has generated close to 55 to 60 percent of the tags Visit the derby website to see lakes containing tagged fish.
On opening day, a total of 79 tags were turned in for prizes (Lake Aberdeen and Lake Sylvia saw the highest total with six tags), and closely mirrors the 80 tags during the 2022 opener that were turned in for prizes out of 830 tagged fish which equated to 9.6% turned in and yearly average is about 10%.
Opening day results:
King County — Cottage Lake, 43 anglers with 83 kept trout and 47 released for 1.9 kept per angler. Geneva Lake, 13 anglers with 35 kept trout and nine released for 2.6 kept per angler. Margaret Lake, 13 anglers with 19 trout kept and four released for 41.3 kept per angler. Walker Lake, 26 anglers with 20 trout kept and 25 released for 0.7 kept per angler. Wilderness Lake, 66 anglers with 108 trout kept and 177 released for 1.6 kept per angler.
San Juan Island — Cascade Lake, nine anglers with 11 trout kept and one released for 1.2 kept per angler.
Snohomish County — Howard Lake, 23 anglers with 51 trout kept and seven released for 2.2 kept per angler. Ki Lake, 52 anglers with 70 kept trout and 45 released for 1.3 kept per angler. Martha-Alderwood Manor, 28 anglers with 83 kept trout and six released for 2.9 kept per angler. Serene Lake, 12 anglers with 30 kept trout and 29 released for 2.5 kept per angler.
Skagit County — Lake McMurray, 45 anglers with 102 kept trout and 15 released for 2.2 kept per angler. Heart Lake, 42 anglers with 102 kept trout and 29 released for 2.1 kept per angler. Erie Lake, 38 anglers with 75 kept trout and five released for 2.6 kept per angler.
Whatcom County — Cain Lake, 11 anglers with 30 kept trout and five released for 2.7 kept per angler. Padden Lake, 46 anglers with 22 kept trout and 11 released for 0.4 kept per angler. Silver Lake, 33 anglers with 61 kept trout and 32 released for 1.8 kept per angler. Toad Lake, 56 anglers with 71 kept trout and 33 released for 1.2 kept per angler.
Pend Oreille County — Diamond Lake, six anglers with five trout kept and one released for 1.0 kept per angler and largest rainbow trout was 19 inches.
Stevens County — Mudgett Lake, 29 anglers with 16 trout kept and one released for 0.5 kept per angler. Rocky Lake, 12 anglers with 13 trout kept and two released for 1.2 kept per angler. Starvation Lake, 15 anglers with 18 trout kept and 15 released for 1.0 kept per angler. Waitts Lake, five anglers with 12 trout kept and six released for 2.4 kept per angler.
Spokane County — Clear Lake, 21 anglers with 41 trout kept and 37 released for 1.9 kept per angler. West Medical Lake, 94 anglers with 45 trout kept and 16 released for 0.4 kept per angler. Badger Lake, 32 anglers with 48 trout kept and 46 released for 1.5 kept per angler. Williams Lake, 25 anglers with 13 trout kept and 94 released for 0.5 kept per angler.
Lincoln County — Fishtrap Lake, 19 anglers with 85 trout kept and 12 released for 4.4 kept per angler.
Lewis County — Mineral Lake, 52 anglers with 84 trout kept and 42 released for 1.6 kept per angler. Carlisle Lake, 33 anglers with 17 trout kept and two released for 0.5 kept per angler.
Klickitat County — Rowland Lake, 29 anglers with 94 trout kept and 143 released for 3.2 kept per angler. Horsethief Lake, eight anglers with 17 trout kept and two released for 2.1 kept per angler. Spearfish Lake, 47 anglers with 93 trout kept and 34 released for 1.9 kept per angler.
Jefferson County — Sandy Shore Lake, 19 anglers with 45 trout kept and 24 released for 2.3 kept per angler.
Mason County — Devereaux Lake, 26 anglers with 91 trout kept and 89 released for 3.5 kept per angler. Lake Limerick, 24 anglers with 16 trout kept and 11 released for 0.6 kept per angler. Tiger Lake, 23 anglers with 77 trout kept and 29 released for 3.3 kept per angler. Wooten Lake, 22 anglers with 51 trout kept and 76 released for 2.3 kept per angler.
Pierce County — Clear Lake, 42 anglers with 121 trout kept and 95 released for 2.8 kept per angler. Ohop Lake, 23 anglers with 13 trout kept and 23 released for 0.5 kept per angler. Silver Lake, 15 anglers with 25 trout kept and four released for 1.6 kept per angler. Crescent Lake, 19 anglers with 51 trout kept and 43 released for 2.6 kept per angler. Tanwax Lake, six anglers with five trout kept and 13 released for 0.8 kept per angler. Carney Lake, 13 anglers with five trout kept and 13 released for 0.3 kept per angler.
Thurston County — Summit Lake, 31 anglers with 62 trout kept and 21 released, 2.0 kept per angler. Pattison Lake, three anglers with no trout. Deep Lake, 20 anglers with 13 trout kept and 39 released for 0.6 kept per angler. Hicks Lake, 22 anglers with 50 trout kept and 47 released for 2.2 kept per angler.
Douglas County — Jameson Lake, 61 anglers with 166 trout kept and 10 released, 2.7 kept per angler.
Chelan County — Wapato Lake, 44 anglers with 152 trout kept and eight released, 3.4 kept per angler.
Grant County — Blue Lake, 117 anglers with 155 trout kept and 17 released, 1.3 kept per angler. Deep Lake, 50 anglers with 148 trout kept and 123 released, 2.9 kept per angler. Park Lake, 88 anglers with 123 trout kept and 25 released, 1.4 kept per angler.
Okanogan County — Pearrygin Lake, 15 anglers with 20 trout kept and four released, 1.3 kept per angler.
Grays Harbor County — Aberdeen Lake, 76 anglers with 133 trout kept and 246 released, 1.7 kept per angler. Failor Lake, 39 anglers with 131 trout kept and 32 released, 3.3 kept per angler. Bowers Lake, 19 anglers with 42 trout kept and 11 released, 2.2 kept per angler. Inez Lake, 17 anglers with 20 trout kept and 10 released, 1.1 kept per angler. Sylvia Lake, 34 anglers with 27 trout kept and 25 released, 0.7 kept per angler.
Kitsap County — Mission Lake, 14 anglers with 15 trout kept and 13 released, 1.0 kept per angler. Panther Lake, two anglers with five trout kept and one released, 2.5 kept per angler. Wildcat Lake, 15 anglers with 32 trout kept and three released, 2.1 kept per angler.
Pacific County — Black Lake, 44 anglers with 29 trout kept and two released, 0.6 kept per angler. Cases Pond, seven anglers with eight trout kept and three released, 1.1 kept per angler. Western Lake, three anglers with one trout kept and 12 released, 0.3 kept per angler.