Bigger fish put smiles on anglers’ faces

9:14 pm May 31st, 2012

Good weather and big trout helped boost catch rates on opening day of this year’s lowland lakes fishing season in Washington. Based on creel checks conducted at 112 lakes around the state, the Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) estimated that a per-angler average of about four trout were reeled in April 28. Of that number, most anglers kept between two and three fish, based on the 5,129 anglers contacted by WDFW on opening day. The rest of the fish were released. The retention rate was higher than last year’s opening day. One reason may be that 3 million of the catchable-size trout WDFW planted before the opener last month averaged 11 to 13 inches in length, about a third larger than before, officials said. Many lakes were also stocked with thousands of triploids, broodstock and other large trout weighing up to 11 pounds apiece. “Lots of folks noticed those larger fish,” said Mark Downen, a WDFW fish biologist. Because of the popularity of trout fishing, WDFW put a higher priority on its trout-rearing program over the past year, said Chris Donley, the department’s inland fish program manager. “For one thing, we invested in more hatchery feed to grow our fish larger,” he said. “We hope anglers will see the increase in the quality of our catchable trout.” Hatchery crews spent the past year stocking lakes with more than 10 million fry and fingerlings, which have grown to eight to 12 inches in length.

22-incher wins kids’ fishing derby
Jonathan Frantz caught a trout measuring 22 and three-quarters inches to win the Eatonville Lions Club’s kids fishing derby April 28 at Smallwood Park in Eatonville. His prize was a new bicycle. Prizes for other top finishers included fishing gear. Other contestants who reeled in fish longer than 21 inches included Ryan Antonson, Derek Walker and J.T. Tice.

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