The bad news: Fishing may not be quite as good as last year in the Spokane-area lowland lakes that will open for the season on April 25.
The good news: Even in a poor year, lakes such as Badger, Fishtrap, West Medical and Williams are consistently among the best trout producers in the Northwest.
Slightly fewer catchable rainbows are being stocked compared with two years ago, partly because of increased trucking costs, said John Whalen, Washington Fish and Wildlife Department regional fisheries manager.
Area biologist Chris Donley said smallmouth bass introduced to Badger, plus shiners and other species that have turned up in the lakes are starting to take a toll on the trout fisheries.
“Williams probably peaked last year, but most anglers won’t notice the difference,” Donley said. “The fishing will still be good.”
Badger and Williams offer both rainbows and cutthroats. “The cutthroats aren’t plentiful in Badger, but the size is nice – over 18 inches,” he said.
“Williams is a consistent trout producer, and it also has a consistent callibaetis mayfly hatch on evenings in May.
“But it’s Fishtrap and West Medical lakes that provide 50 percent of the area’s trout harvest on opening weekend.”
Clear Lake is another popular April 25 opener for rainbows and brown trout.
A total of 20 lakes in Spokane County are stocked with trout, plus 66 in Stevens and Pend Oreille counties.