April 12, 2012 in Sports

Lowland lakes stocked with trout offerings

By The Spokesman-Review
Rich Landers photo

Fishtrap Lake resort docks are always busy on opening day of Washington’s lowland lake fishing season.
(Full-size photo)

Chapman Lake access doubtful

 Chapman Lake, a popular trout, kokanee and spiny ray fishing lake south of Cheney, may not reopen for public access this season.

 The family-operated Chapman Lake Resort did not open gates last year for the first time in decades.

 “We’re working with the private landowners to try to reach an agreement to get access into the lake, but these things move slowly,” said Chris Donley, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife lowland lakes manager.

 The state won’t be stocking trout in the lake this year without an agreement, but biologist will plant kokanee fry to maintain all year classes of the species.

 “We’ll spend a little state money now,” Donley said. “Then if we get the public access back, we’ll still have a kokanee fishery.”

With plenty of water and plenty of fish filling the region’s lakes this spring, Spokane-area anglers should have little trouble putting fish in the cooler at lowland trout lakes that will open for the season on April 28.

Washington fisheries officials expect 300,000 anglers to pursue about 3 million freshly stocked trout across the state.

Hatchery trucks will be delivering a slightly higher percentage of the state’s beefy 1.5-pound triploid rainbows to West Side waters this year, but Eastern Washington anglers aren’t likely to notice the difference, said John Whalen, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife regional fisheries manager.

“We expect anglers to find good fishing, but things do change from year to year.”

Williams Lake south of Cheney is expected to be one of the top trout waters on opening day. The fishery is scheduled to be freshened up with another plant of triploids just before the June 9-10 free-fishing weekend, when people can try the sport without having to buy a fishing license.

“We’re planning another fishing basics class for adults on that weekend at Williams Lake,” Whalen said.

Fishtrap Lake, a perennial opening day favorite, should fish pretty well, he said.

West Medical Lake should be good for opening week anglers, but it won’t have the normal variety of trout age classes.

“A big wind storm last fall at just the wrong time caused the lake to turn over very quickly, bringing the low-oxygen water from the bottom to the top of the lake so fast the fish had trouble dealing with it,” he said. “It appears that we had a significant loss of fish. We’ll do the best we can to stock a lot of large catchable fish to try to make up for it.”

Badger Lake trout fishing continues to go downhill because of the growing infestation of smallmouth bass.

“Badger is a question mark to us this year,” Whalen said.

Fish Lake off the Cheney-Marshall Road doesn’t attract as many anglers as some waters, but it has a loyal following of anglers who enjoy its unusual stocking scheme: Eastern brook trout and tiger trout.

Most of the tiger trout run 12-17 inches, but Fish Lake produced a state-record tiger trout weighing 13.75 pounds in 2008.

Loon Lake continues to be best known for its kokanee fishery, which seems to be at its best on summer evenings. But the lake’s opening day is enhanced by plants of 1.5 pound triploid rainbows and net-pen raised trout come on later. Loon always produces a few nice mackinaw to tip the scales on opening day.

Diamond Lake near Newport has rainbows, and it got a bunch of the big cutthroat broodstock hauled out of Kings Lake before it was closed for rotenone treatment last fall. Diamond is scheduled to get a new boat ramp and parking area this summer.

North of Spokane, Deer Lake, which opened for fishing on March 1, has kokanee and trout that are facing more competition from smallmouth bass. Mackinaw fishing tends to be best right after the ice comes out – which is mid-April this year. Net pens help beef up the trout population.

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