Outdoors

Fishing Opening Day traditions run generations deep

A rookie angler celebrates catching his first trout on opening day off the docks at Fishtrap Lake Resort.
A rookie angler celebrates catching his first trout on opening day off the docks at Fishtrap Lake Resort.

It’s no secret that Saturday is the opening day of Washington’s lowland lake trout fishing season. Some families have opening day perpetually marked on their calendar, as they have for generations.

They know the table will be set.

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife fisheries staff has been working since last year to stock more than 16 million trout and kokanee sizes in 562 lakes throughout the state.

The fish range from a few humongous brood stock and a lot of catchable-size fish to be harvested immediately, to tons of small fry that will grow naturally in the lake and be ready to treat anglers this fall or next year.

Some of the state’s best trout fishing lakes are close to Spokane, including Clear, Fish, Fishtrap, West Medical and Williams.

Many trout lakes in the northeast corner of the state also are good bets on opening day. They include Cedar, Rocky, Starvation and Waitts lakes in Stevens County; Ellen Lake in Ferry County, and Diamond and Marshall lakes in Pend Oreille County.

Having covered the event for 35 years, I’m constantly reminded of the family traditions built around opening day. It’s not uncommon to see three generations of family members in boats or at docks or campgrounds at the region’s lakeside resorts.

Most of the faithful have a favorite lake and a preferred fishing spot they return to every April.

The fish catching is a small but critical part of a weekend celebration worthy of holiday status.

“Our family’s been coming here for 51 years,” said Cory Horntvedt, 22, as he fished from the Fishtrap Lake docks on opening day 2013. His uncle of the same name nodded his head.

Conversation drifted from how deep they should be fishing to their military deployments.

“That’s the only time I didn’t come here for opening day: when I was in Afghanistan,” said Ty Bates, Horntvedt’s stepbrother.

“We buried Grandpa’s ashes next to the lake over there in the trees,” Horntvedt said.


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Rich Landers

Rich Landers

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