Despite cool and windy weather in many parts of the state, anglers had a lot of success reeling in large trout on April 27, the opening day of this year's lowland lakes fishing season.
Based on creel checks conducted at 98 lakes around the state, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) estimates that anglers caught an average of 4.6 trout on opening day.
"We saw a lot of limits caught at lakes around the state and many anglers happy with the large trout," said Chris Donley, WDFW's Inland Fish program manager. "Late morning and early afternoon windy weather blew folks off of some waters, but not before they caught lots of fish."
For most lakes, the daily limit is five fish. Donley said the 4,076 anglers contacted by WDFW on opening day retained an average of 2.8 trout - up from 2.3 fish in recent years. The rest of the fish were released.
Donley said one reason for the higher retention rate may be that 2.2 million of the "catchable-size" trout WDFW planted before the opener averaged 10-12 inches — about a third larger than in the past. Many lakes were also stocked with thousands of triploids, broodstock and other large trout weighing up to 11 pounds apiece.
The largest fish caught and recorded included a 24.5-inch rainbow trout at Vance Creek Pond No. 2 (Lake Inez) in Grays Harbor County, and a 24-inch rainbow at Lincoln County's Fishtrap Lake.