by John Kruse, May 09, 2020
The April 25th lowland lakes trout opener didn’t go off as scheduled, but fish plants did all over Washington this spring and the weeks ahead should be very productive if you want to catch stocked trout of various sizes along with holdover fish from last year.
The next question is, what’s the best way to do it? If you have a boat, kayak, canoe or float tube you can access places shore anglers can’t. Trolling close to the surface is the name of the game in the spring though hot days and warmer water temperatures will begin driving the trout deeper into the water as May progresses into June. Until then, try trolling a fly, a small spoon or perhaps an old favorite like a Mack’s Wedding Ring Spinner behind a small flasher in 5 to 20 feet of water. Tipping the spinner with a worm will likely result in additional strikes from hungry rainbows and other stocked trout.
If you are fishing from shore you can use floating Berkley PowerBait or a marshmallow/worm combination above an egg weight on the lake bottom to catch fish. The difficult part could be emerging weed growth at this time of year. If that’s an issue, try fishing a worm with a salmon egg or corn below a slip bobber, staying above the underwater weed line. Casting spinners and spoons from shore at lakes can also be very effective for trout. The trout bite can turn on at any time but mornings and early evening are usually best. If you are fishing in the early evening, you might also want to try casting dry flies for rising trout which is a true angling treat.
As for where to go, you need look no further than the stocking reports available from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Here’s a rundown of lakes that have been stocked this spring with trout in Central and Eastern Washington (earlier winter and fall stockings are not included):
Beehive Reservoir – 11,000 catchable rainbows/ 280 jumbo trout
Lily Lake – 7,500 rainbows/100 jumbo trout
Roses Lake – 250 jumbo rainbows
Fish Lake – 15,000 catchable rainbows
Jameson Lake – 5,500 catchable rainbows/280 jumbo trout
Rock Island Ponds – 20,000 catchable trout/400 jumbo rainbows
Warden Lake – 2,350 large catchable rainbows
Sage Lakes – 1000 rainbow trout
Katy Lake – 250 rainbows
Lenice & Nunnally Lakes – 5,000 rainbow trout
Little Klickitat River – 600 rainbow trout
Spearfish Lake – 6,100 trout
Horsethief Lake – 8,850 rainbows/ 152 jumbo trout
Rowland Lake – 12,000 rainbow trout/208 jumbo trout
Spectacle Lake – 5,100 rainbow trout
Lake Ellen – 1,000 trout
Heritage Lake – 4,000 rainbows
Lake Thomas - 5,000 trout
Gillette Lake – 2,700 rainbows
Lake Sherry – 1,450 trout
Jump Off Joe Lake – 4,500 rainbows/150 jumbo trout
Mudgett Lake -1,000 trout
Waitts Lake – 250 jumbo trout
Loon Lake – 300 jumbo rainbows
Deer Lake – 4,000 rainbows/200 jumbo trout
Other waters worth fishing for trout include Dusty Lake and Dry Falls Lake in Grant County, both selective regulation fisheries favored by fly anglers. Lake Roosevelt and Potholes Reservoir are also consistently reliable spring trout fisheries.
Other good options include Lake Chelan and Wapato Lake near Manson, Upper and Lower Conconully Reservoirs in Okanogan County, or Park and Blue Lakes in Grant County.
Where ever you decide to go and cast a line be sure to limit the spread of COVID-19. Stay close to home, make your trip a day trip, avoid overcrowding, use hand sanitizer, consider the use of a face mask or bandana and maintain social distance. The more we do these things, the better our chances are for more fishing in the weeks ahead.
As for me, I took my daughter to the Rock Island Ponds in Douglas County on the May 5th, opener. Casting spinners and spoons from shore, we experienced some fast and furious fishing. I less than 90 minutes we had caught and released 14 rainbow trout measuring 8 to 12+ inches and lost a couple of jumbo trout weighing 1 to 3 pounds.
That’s what I call some high-quality father/daughter time! Here’s hoping you are able to get out there in the days ahead to experience some good trout fishing as well.
Faith Kruse with a rainbow trout kind enough to pose for the picture – J Kruse
The author with a nice rainbow trout caught out of one of the Rock Island Ponds in Douglas County.