2008 delivered a stream of fine fishing to Inland anglers.
Oregon’s saltwater salmon fishing was closed for lack of fish and seasons were shortened off the Washington Coast. Yet big numbers of fish came to greet Inland anglers.
The third largest spring chinook run since 1977 headed up the Columbia and Snake followed by huge fall chinook and sockeye runs. Steelhead numbers were strong.
For the first time in years, trout streams from Washington through Montana were flush with water from the late-melting snowpack.
Northern pike are booming in the Pend Oreille River.
Sprague Lake was restocked with trout and several warmwater species after the massive 2007 rotenone treatment. While the bass and bluegills were still getting up to size, anglers were enjoying fabulous fishing for rainbows longer than 20 inches by fall.
In some ways, the fishing was too good. Poaching became common at Sprague and wildlife enforcement officers had no trouble finding violations when they had time to patrol the lake.
The situation was even worse at Lake Rufus Woods, which was hotter than a hatchery after a commercial trout farm went bankrupt and lost roughly 300,000 rainbow trout before new management could get the facilities back in shape.
The bonanza brought out the worst in some anglers.
“Frankly, what we’re seeing is piggery,” said Sgt. Jim Brown, Washington Fish and Wildlife Department enforcement officer for Okanogan County. “Literally, nine out of 10 fishing parties we made contact with earlier this year had violations.”
Tiger trout (brown trout/brook trout hybrid), 13.75 pounds, caught May 27 in Fish Lake (Spokane County) by Evan Roda of Spokane Valley.
Pikeminnow, 7.91 pounds, caught May 15 in the Snake River by Pamela Ramsden of Deer Park.
Peamouth, 1.12 pounds, caught June 29 in the Columbia River by Tanya Merrill.
Prickly sculpin, .41 pounds, caught July 2 in Priest Rapids Lake by Jeff Fredrick.
Yellowtail, 8 pounds, .07 ounces, caught Aug. 8 in the Pacific Ocean by Clifford Kuykendall.
Carp, 41 pounds, 14.4 ounces, caught May 25 in the Snake River by Rob James of Emmett.
Tilapia, 4 pounds, 4.43 ounces, caught Aug. 3 in Swan Falls Reservoir by Jason Arneson of Boise.