Anglers are eager for the chance to catch some of the more than 400,000 rainbow trout to be stocked in Pierce and Thurston county lakes. They’ll get that opportunity when many lakes open to fishing Saturday.
While some area lakes are open year round, Saturday marks the opening of the lowland lake trout season. For a majority of the fishing crowd, it’s the unofficial start to fishing season.
To fuel the pump, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife is expected to plant more than 3.5 million rainbow trout 8 to 12 inches long in almost 350 waters statewide.
Shallow lakes are the best options for anglers in the first couple of months of the season, said Bjorn Beech of The Fly Fisher in Lacey, especially since spring has started out cool. That means the trout will be more active.
If the water is cold, the key will be to slow down your retrieve if you are casting lures or flies. “The colder the water, the slower the retrieve,” Beech said.
But don’t discount a lake that is open year-round, said Michael Martin of Wholesale Sports Outfitters in Federal Way.
“Some of my favorites are the lakes that are open year-round because they’re not as crowded. People head to the lakes that just opened so those (year-round) lakes aren’t as busy,” he said.
Here are five South Sound lakes that would be worth a visit early in the fishing season.
McIntosh Lake, Thurston County
Because the lake is fairly shallow, it will warm up quickly.
“The bugs will get growing quicker when the water warms up,” Beech said of the 93-acre lake that is about 31/2 miles northeast of Tenino, along state Route 507.
The lake is to be stocked with 9,048 rainbow trout and 544 larger triploid trout. Anglers also can catch lots of yellow perch and a few largemouth bass.
Go-to gear: Fly anglers should try woolly buggers, damsel fly nymphs, chironomids and caddis.
Of note: There is a state boat launch.
Mineral Lake, Lewis County
This is one of the best fishing lakes early in the season. A healthy number of planted trout, plus a strong population of trout that survived previous seasons, gives anglers a good chance to catch limits and some large trout.
“The big attraction to this lake is most people fishing will come home with some really nice fish. Some will be lucky enough to tie into a 7- to 12-pound rainbow,” said Mike Gordon, general manager at Mineral Lake Resort.
Go-to gear: Go with Power Eggs in chartreuse, lemon-lime and yellow, Gordon said. The best set up is a slip sinker with a 4- to 6-foot leader baited with 2 eggs. Black or dark green woolly buggers work great when trolling. Others troll with flashers with a chartreuse Wedding Ring tipped with a worm.
Of note: Motorized boats are allowed on the 277-acre lake south of Elbe. The speed limit is 8 mph at all times.
Silver Lake, Pierce County
A mix of rainbow and brown trout, plus largemouth bass, yellow perch and crappie are the attraction at this 138-acre lake off state Route 7 en route to Mount Rainier.
The lake will be stocked with 30,400 rainbow trout and 100 triploid trout this spring.
“There are a lot of holdovers from last year. There were lots of large trout being caught last fall, so that’s a good sign,” said Amy Kenney of Henley’s Silver Lake Resort.
Go-to gear: Power Bait fished off the bottom is effective for bait anglers. People who prefer lures should try small spinners such as Kastmasters or Roostertails. For trolling, use a Wedding Ring tipped with a worm or Power Bait maggot.
Of note: There is no state access, but Henley’s Silver Lake Resort has a ramp, fishing dock and boat rentals.
Steel Lake, King County
This is a good urban lake to try early in the season, Martin said. The lake will be stocked with 10,000 catchable-size rainbows by the end of the month. The largemouth bass action is very good in the summer.
The 46-acre lake is in Federal Way between South 304 and South 312th streets near Interstate 5.
Go-to gear: Fly anglers should try olive and black bead-head woolly buggers or Carey Specials trolled slowly or cast toward the shore, Martin said. Small Roostertail spinners and Power Bait are a good option.
Of note: There is excellent shoreline and boat access at Steel Lake Park, located midway on the south shore. The park also has a fishing pier.
Wooten Lake, Mason County
This lake is really good for fly anglers, said Ron Adams at Verle’s Sports Center.
“Early in the season, wet flies seem to work better,” he said.
The lake will be planted with 5,643 rainbows and 140 triploid trout this spring.
The 68-acre lake is seven miles west of Belfair. The state access site off of Haven Lake Drive has a concrete plank boat launch and two toilets.
Go-to gear: Adams recommends using a Carey Special or an elk hair caddis if the fish are feeding on the surface. He said the Carey Special imitates dragon fly larva as they emerge.
Of note: The daily trout limit is five fish and no more than two of them over 14 inches may be retained.
Other early-season options
Harts, Ohop and Rapjohn lakes (Pierce County); Ward, Munn and Black lakes (Thurston County); Angle and Rattlesnake lakes (King County); Phillips and Limerick lakes (Mason County).
Jeffrey P. Mayor: 253-597-8640
Couple from Idaho takes over Silver Lake resort
Living in Sandpoint, Idaho, Amy and Bill Kenney were looking to make a change. They have family in the Puget Sound area and wanted to move to closer to them.
Early last year the couple learned Henley’s Silver Lake Resort, located off state Route 7 near Eatonville, was for sale. In August, they bought the place.
They spent the fall and winter repairing buildings, cleaning up the small resort, and raising some 30,000 rainbow trout in net pens.
The resort features five rental cabins, 20 RV sites and a tent-camping area.
“We’re not doing much new. We’re just upgrading the facilities to make them run more efficiently, trying to make things more user-friendly,” Amy Kenney said.
She said the couple plans to keep the resort name, even though they had no previous connection with the Henley family or resort.
Kenney said they are developing plans for more events, such as the hydroplane races held April 1-3. But for now, they’re concentrating on fishing. They released the trout two weeks ago, in anticipation of Saturday’s opening of lowland lake trout season.
Not far from Silver Lake, a familiar face will be behind the counter. Carol Parsons has decided to come back for another season at Harts Lake Resort and Deli.
Still recovering from three strokes she suffered last fall, Parsons said she doesn’t have the energy to be open seven days a week. Instead, the resort will be open Thursdays through Sundays.
With her husband, George, out of work over the winter, shutting down wasn’t an option. “We had a pretty bad year, but we’re hanging on and trying to play catch-up now,” she said.
Parsons said plans for the season include serving dinners on Saturday nights beginning in May. The homestyle meals will be available by reservation only, she said. In July and August, the resort will have dinner shows on Saturday nights.
Despite her physical struggles, Parsons is upbeat about the season. “I’m looking forward to it, because I’m alive and I can, I guess.”
Jeffrey P. Mayor, staff writer
Anglers will need a Washington freshwater fishing license.
Where to get one: Licenses can be purchased on the Internet at https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov, by telephone at 866-246-9453 or at a license dealer. A list of vendors can be found at wdfw.wa.gov/licensing/vendors/.
Cost: A freshwater fishing license costs $26 for resident adults 16-69 years old. Fifteen-year-olds and persons with disabilities can buy a license for $11, and seniors 70 and older can buy an annual fishing license for $8. Children 14 years of age and younger do not need a fishing license.
Spring hatchery stocking plan: wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/plants/statewide/
2011 fishing prospects: wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/prospects/
2011 triploid trout stocking plan: wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/plants/triploid/