FISHING -- "What happened to the 370,000 hatchery steelhead stocked in Sprague Lake in 2014?"
That's been a frequently asked question among anglers this spring.
Mitch Byrd of Spokane reeled in the answer this week.
Those truckloads of West Side steelhead that needed a home when a lawsuit prevented them from being released in Puget Sound streams have been quietly growing to very large proportions in the East Side lake that straddles the Adams-Lincoln county line south of Interstate 90.
"This 25-inch-long, 5-pound steelhead is what I was waiting to see," said Scott Haugen of Four Seasons Campground and Resort.
Haugen has been snapping photos of anglers catching the big, bright rainbow trout (intact adipose fins) from the lake, as well as some fine largemouth bass (also posted above). But the steelhead weren't showing so well in the past few months.
"This is the largest steelhead I have seen or heard about being caught in Sprague Lake," Haugen said, noting that Byrd "was using Power Bait.
"I expected the steelhead to be in the 4- to 5-pound range this year. Now it looks like they will be larger later this season.
"No other lake will be able to compete to these steelhead sizes."
Another lake benefits: Puget Sound hatchery steelhead also have been pleasing anglers this year at Rock Lake in Whitman County. These steelhead haven't grown to the proportions of the Sprague Lake steelhead, but the Rock Lake plant has a different trophy angle: Rock Lake's brown trout appear to be growing large by preying on the on-time-bounty of 255,000 young steelhead planted in 2015.