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Badger, Williams likely to be top trout waters on opening day

Something really weird happened this year with the triploid hatchery trout stocked as a bonus in some Spokane area trout lakes.

“The triploids (sterile) we get from Trout Lodge hatchery normally are nice fish running around 1.5 pounds,” said Randy Osborne, Washington Department of Fish and wildlife district biologist. “This year, for whatever reason, they’re running 4 pounds.”

He smiled slightly and moved on with prospects for the popular lowland trout lakes fishing season that will open on Saturday.

Based on the sampling he’s done in the past two weeks, Osborne says the two local hot spots for anglers will likely be Badger and Williams lakes south of Cheney.

Both Lakes were treated two years ago to remove species ranging from sunfish to bass and clear the way for stocked trout to grow fast, he said. “Next year will be even better with more carryover fish, but this year’s crop is already looking good and they’re plentiful,” he said.

Cutthroat trout in both lakes are longer than 10 inches and will continue growing through the season, he said. Rainbows are nearly 11 inches long.

Both lakes also were spiced last week with some broodstock rainbows ranging 18-22 inches.

Williams also is stocked with some tiger trout –and about 600 of those 4-pound triploid bruisers.

West Medical Lake, normally one of the state’s top trout lakes, is suffering from an infestation of illegally introduced goldfish, Osborne said. “The fishing should be OK with all of the trout we stocked, including 500 of the big triploids, but I can’t make guarantees. Goldfish are in there by the gads. The lake will need to be rehabilitated.”

Clear Lake is known for slower fishing success in the opening weeks of the season but a better chance of catching a good-size brown trout. “We sampled browns up to 21 inches with our nets,” Osborne said.

Fish Lake’s water level was too high last week for Osborne to launch his fish sampling boat, but the lake off the Cheney-Spokane Road is stocked with brook trout and tiger trout.

Fishtrap Lake west of Spokane and south of Interstate 90, also is in Osborne’s “OK” category, down from its usual spotlight prospects. “It’s also on the list of lakes that need to be rehabbed this fall.”

To help boost the struggling fishery, Fishtrap was stocked last fall with 1,500 juvenile steelhead that are running about 11 inches long this spring. They’re more torpedo-shaped and their adipose fins are clipped to make them easy for anglers to distinguish from the rainbow trout.

“The surplus steelhead we occasionally get to stock in trout lakes are considered trout,” Osborne pointed out. “Fishermen don’t have to worry about special steelhead regulations.”

“The 400 triploids we put in Fishtrap this spring were running about 3 pounds,” he said.

Lake Spokane –the Spokane River behind Long Lake Dam – is a year-round fishery traditionally known for its bass, panfish and the occasional northern pike. But a trout fishery has emerged in the past two years as Avista has paid for 155,000 triploid rainbow trout to be stocked each spring as part of a dam relicensing agreement.

“The carryovers from the previous stockings are upward of 19 inches long,” Osborne said. “I’m getting reports of people catching them from shore at road turnouts near Tumtum.

This year’s plants will be released in late May or early June depending on river flows and water temperatures, he said.