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Opening day is angler’s delight

David Howell, of Spokane, helps his sons Samuel, 10, and Aidan, 3, with a fresh catch Saturday at Klinks Williams Lake Resort. 
 (photo by Brian Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)
David Howell, of Spokane, helps his sons Samuel, 10, and Aidan, 3, with a fresh catch Saturday at Klinks Williams Lake Resort. (photo by Brian Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)

Catching a limit was just a matter of time Saturday.

Six Spokane-region lakes produced five-trout limits to nearly everyone who showed up on the opening day of the lowland trout season.

Marillyn Kilpatrick was an exception. The Oakesdale woman was too busy helping her grandchildren to spend much time on the business end of a fishing rod at Fishtrap Lake.

“We drove 17 miles to camp here,” said Kilpatrick’s daughter Ann Hennings, who lives on a farm near Sprague. “We’ve been coming here since 1979. We asked Mom what she wanted to do on her 80th birthday, and she said, ‘Fishing, of course.’ ”

“I slept in the same pup tent with my grandson last night,” Kilpatrick said.

A short cast away, a father and his son were trading high-fives over the boy’s first trout.

At the end of the dock, Marie Spurgeon was paired with her granddaughter, Taylor Guzman. They had driven over the Cascades from Buckley, Wash., “because the fishing is good and the weather is usually better,” Spurgeon said.

Game for the challenge, Spurgeon never sat longer than a minute before she was up to net a fish, bait her granddaughter’s hook or reel in her own line.

“My grandson said it took about 40 minutes to catch a limit (of trout), and I think I’m going to hit that if I don’t catch too many more bullheads,” she said.

Spurgeon was camped at the Fishtrap Resort campground, which was filled to capacity, with her grandsons and their college friends from Eastern Washington University.

“Camping with college kids is fun,” she said, “except if you want to sleep at night.”

At Williams Lake, Therese Witter, of Spokane, made a splash with one of her first casts off the Klink’s Resort dock. “I caught that 4 1/2-pound rainbow first thing,” she said. “All these guys on the dock were scrambling to help me.

“Fishing on opening day is a tradition for us, like going shopping the day after Thanksgiving,” she said. “Fishing is cheap entertainment you can do with your kids.”

Spokane angler Dave Kennedy and his son, Dave Jr., couldn’t have caught fish much faster at a fish hatchery than they did off the dock at Klink’s.

“Can you believe it? The sun’s just coming up and we’re done,” Kennedy said, netting the last of their 10 fish for the day. “My son caught four fish in 10 minutes when he first got here while I was getting ready,” Kennedy added. Cleaning their catch took almost as much time as hooking their limits.

The two Spokane anglers gave up their secret to a nearby couple who weren’t faring so well.

“Lime Twist Powerbait,” the older Kennedy said as he handed the couple his partially used jar of the dough-like synthetic bait.

At West Medical Lake, anglers were catching fish on flies, worms, lures, or, as one angler said while he and his boy were unloading their boat, “We tried everything today, and everything worked.”

John Whalen, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife regional fisheries manager, said, “We had a great turnout and great weather, so people weren’t in a rush to go home. Resort owners were pleased, and so were we.

“The best lakes near Spokane were Badger, Williams, Fishtrap and West Medical, plus Cedar and Deep up north,” he added.

What some lakes lacked in quantity, they made up in quality.

“At Waitts Lake, which averaged 1.5 fish per angler, people were catching a lot of nice carry-over browns and rainbows up in the 22-inch range,” he said.

Fly-fishers at Medical Lake, which has a reduced limit and special restrictions, said they, too, were hooking large trout, mostly rainbows.