April 11, 2013 in Outdoors

Bluegills arrive at Sprague Lake

By The Spokesman-Review
Trout-salmon derbies

• Red Covey Memorial Spring Salmon Derby, April 13-14 on Lake Coeur d’Alene. $1,500 guaranteed for first.

Info: (208) 667-9304.

• K&K Spring Derby on Lake Pend Oreille, April 27-May 5. Prizes total $15,000.

Info: (509) 928-9245.

Sprague Lake Trout Derby, June 8, tickets, available at lake resorts. $900 in prizes. No license required becaue of Free Fishing Weekend.

Info: (509) 259-7060.

Sprague Lake is in a transition this year as it’s weaned from a lunker trout fishery and emerging as a hot spot for bass and panfish.

Bluegills that were in the range of 8-9 inches last year are expected to show up in angler-pleasing sizes this year with even better bluegill fishing expected down the road a few years, said Chris Donley, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife fisheries manager.

Donley is the biologist who orchestrated the major rehab of the lake’s fishery in 2007.

“The lake has produced some huge rainbows, but the plan all along was to manage Sprague with an intermediate trout fishery on the way to creating a bass and bluegill fishery,” he said.

“It takes quite a few years to build a bluegill fishery, even in a lake that productive. The fish are there in some good sizes this year; the big question is how many.

“Adult bluegills tend to be off shore away from where we do our fall electroshocking, so we don’t have a good idea of how many are in the lake.”

Anglers shouldn’t wait for somebody else to find out.

“If you don’t catch a lot of bluegills right off, go for bass,” Donley said. “The lake has some beautiful largemouths; lots of in the 1-pound range with some up to 4, 5 and even 6 pounds.”

The lake also holds channel catfish and crappie and still gets a dose of trout that bulk up quickly.

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