The chironomid hatch under way at Sprague is unreal, and fly fishing has recently been better than bait fishing or trolling, said WDFW fish biologist Chris Donley.
Fly-fishing-only waters that open Saturday include Aeneas Lake near Tonasket and Chopaka Lake near Loomis. Fishing for 12- to 18-inch rainbows should be good in both lakes.
A half-day workshop with Rick Hafele, author of “Nymph Fishing Rivers & Streams,” and Dave Hughes, author of “Nymphs for Streams & Stillwaters,” will be held May 9 from 1-5 p.m. at the Yakima River Fly Shop in Cle Elum, 113 E. 1st Street. Info and reservations: (509) 674-2144.
Trout, trout, and more trout
Saturday is the long-anticipated opening day for dozens of Washington trout lakes. Most of the same fry-planted lakes that produced good catches in past years will again be good bets, but for fish size none can beat year-round Sprague Lake where the trout are averaging 19 inches.
Williams Lake is consistently a top producer on opening day. It is stocked with more than 40,000 cutthroat and 92,000 rainbow fry in spring and fall that grow into catchable-size fish by opening day. It just received almost 10,000 8- to 12-inch rainbow and 1,473 11/2-pound triploids and is due to get another 400 surplus hatchery rainbow broodstock by the opener or soon after.
Badger Lake should also be good. Most of the catch will come from spring and fall fry plants of more than 30,000 cutthroat and 30,000 rainbow. The lake just received 982 triploid rainbow, 400 broodstock and 7,500 catchable-size rainbow.
West Medical Lake is another traditional hot spot. It received 180,000 rainbow fry last spring and another 7,700 last fall for this season’s catchables. This spring, it received 982 triploid rainbows and 400 broodstock rainbow.
Clear Lake is well-stocked with trout fry – 74,000 browns, 26,800 rainbows and 17,500 tiger trout. It recently received 982 triploid rainbow, 30,000 catchable-size rainbows, 10,000 catchable browns and 400 surplus hatchery rainbow broodstock.
Fish Lake, just west of Spokane, is stocked with tiger trout fry (12,150 last fall), but also receives more than 2,000 eastern brook broodstock. On last year’s opener, Fish yielded an average of 3.2 fish per angler and it should be as good this year.
Fishtrap Lake received 68,000 rainbow fry last spring that will make up the bulk of the catch in 9- to 12-inch trout this season. Also stocked to sweeten the pot were 14,443 catchable-size (8- to 10-inch) rainbows and 736 triploid rainbows (11/2 pounds each.) It has also received 400 surplus hatchery rainbow broodstock.
Diamond Lake, southwest of Newport, received 982 triploid rainbows that averaged 11/2 pounds each. It also got a good dose of catchable brown and rainbow and some brood stock.
Loon Lake recently received 300 rainbow brood stock. There was a fall plant of 5,000 net-pen tiger trout. Nearby Deer Lake received 200 broodstock and about a thousand triploid rainbow. It was also scheduled for 30,000 rainbow.
Farther north, Waitts Lake received 24,000 catchable rainbow, 42,000 browns from fall plant and 250 3-pound rainbow brood in addition to the 2,200 stocked last fall. Jump-Off Joe got 7,500 catchable browns. Sacheen received 7,000 tiger trout last year and an additional 6,500 catchable rainbow four days ago. Last fall, Sacheen Lake anglers were catching rainbow to 18 inches. Horseshoe Lake was stocked last fall with fry. Marshall Lake lost its ice at midweek, but no plants have been made this spring. The Skookums are still frozen, as is Browns and quite a few other northerly destinations.
Saturday’s opener also promises to be productive in many waters throughout the north-central region, from the Columbia Basin to Okanogan County. Blue and Park lakes in Sun Lakes State Park should be excellent. The 2009 fishery will be composed of both yearling and carryover rainbows running 12-to 15-plus inches. Besides healthy plants of rainbow, both lakes have received brown and tiger trout fingerlings in the last two years that should begin to show in the catches this year. Blue has received 295 triploid rainbows (11/2-pounders) and Park got 196. Vic Meyers, a relatively small lake connected to Park Lake, was also rehabilitated and stocked with 3,612 fingerling rainbows, 208 fingerling brown trout, and 1,200 fingerling brook trout. The catch there should be mostly 12-inch fish.
Deep Lake, also in Sun Lakes State Park, received 5,000 rainbow fingerlings last year which run 13-14 inches. Additional plants of 10- to 12-inch rainbow trout and 98 triploid rainbows were made this spring. Besides the trout, Deep Lake received 40,000 kokanee fingerlings, which will run 8-10 inches by late spring.
Another Sun Lakes State Park fishery, Perch Lake, is among the most consistent waters in the Basin. Limits of 12-inch rainbows are generally the rule at this small but popular lake.
Warden Lake, south of the town of Moses Lake, should produce two to three yearling rainbows per angler on the opener, 13-plus-inch trout and carryovers of 15-18 inches. Warden also received 2,000 tiger trout fingerlings last year, with past plants of brown trout producing some large fish.
Opening-day lakes to check out farther north include Pearrygin near Winthrop, Alta near Pateros, the Conconullys near Omak and Okanogan, Leader near Omak, Fish near Sinlahekin, Wannacut near Oroville, and Jameson near Mansfield in Douglas County. All received healthy fall plants. The Conconullys are scheduled for plants of 8- to 12-inch rainbows this spring, plus 295 triploid rainbows for the lake and 393 triploids for the reservoir.
Leader received more than 15,000 fall fry and is scheduled for 5,000 8- to 12-inch rainbows and 295 triploids this spring, Fish received more than 35,000, Wannacut received more than 62,000 and Jameson more than 160,000. Jameson was clear enough this year to receive additional plants of 34,000 catchable-size trout and 1,500 11/2-pound triploids.
Good selective-gear rainbow trout waters that open Saturday include Blue on the Sinlahekin Wildlife Area, Big and Little Twin lakes near Winthrop, and Ell near Tonasket. The water level in Ell is low, which might restrict some access to the lake.
Steelhead and salmon
The spring Chinook salmon fishing season opens Saturday on the Clearwater, the lower Salmon, Little Salmon and the Snake rivers. Only about 2,500 fish have crossed Bonneville, and just a few have reached Lower Granite Dam.
Plunking from shore with plug-cut herring and two hooks will be allowed on the Columbia River shoreline adjacent to the Ringold Hatchery when the bank fishing season opens May 1 for hatchery spring chinook. The hatchery outlet is closed. The season has been extended through June 15 because of late returns.
Anglers targeting hatchery spring chinook will be able to use single, double or treble hooks on baits and lures on the lower Wind River from the railroad bridge downstream and at Drano Lake beginning May 1.