SPOKANE -- About 20 lakes and ponds in southeastern Washington will be stocked this season wtih "jumbo" trout, thaks to funding from The Tri-State Steelheaders.
The Walla Walla-based sport-fishing and habitat-enhancement group stepped up last year when the program to raise outsized trout was axed in the first round of Washington Department of Fish and Wildlfie budget cuts.
In recent years, the state has raised about 4,000 jumbo rainbows -- each measuring 14 inches or larger and weighing about 1.5 pounds -- at its Tucannon and Lyons Ferry fish hatcheries.
The standard "catchable-size" rainbow trout reared at the hatcheries generally run 8-12 inch inches long.
But jumbo trout require about 14 months of rearing and more fish food to reach the larger size, said Jon Lovrak, a WDFW hatchery complex manager.
"When we had to cut the program, the Tri-State Steelheaders stepped up to provide $4,400 to cover the extra fish food necessary to grow them to that popular bigger size," Lovrak said.
Some of the fish will be stocked in time for the March 1 opening at some lakes.
Lakes and ponds scheduled to receive jumbos this year include Dalton Lake in Franklin County; Quarry Pond and Bennington Lake in Walla Walla County; Blue and Watson lakes in Columbia County; and West Evans and Golf Course ponds in Asotin County.