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Wildlife stocks Whidbey Island lakes for opener

State fish hatchery specialist Will Irwin holds his ground while rainbow trout are dumped into Deer Lake in Clinton Thursday morning, April 18. The Department of Fish and Wildlife stocked the lake Thursday, after planting 3,500 catchables there the day before.  - Ron Newberry / Whidbey News-Times
State fish hatchery specialist Will Irwin holds his ground while rainbow trout are dumped into Deer Lake in Clinton Thursday morning, April 18. The Department of Fish and Wildlife stocked the lake Thursday, after planting 3,500 catchables there the day before.
— image credit: Ron Newberry / Whidbey News-Times

Steve Stansberry hadn’t heard that one of his favorite lakes on Whidbey Island was getting a bonus planting of large trout this month.

Deer Lake near Clinton was scheduled to receive 204 triploids in April in addition to the usual thousands of smaller trout.

“Oh, that’ll be nice,” said Stansberry, a retired educator who lives in Clinton. “That’ll give the grandkids an eye opener if they get a hold of that.”

Stocking day arrived Thursday morning when two trucks from the Department of Fish and Wildlife backed up to the lake’s northwestern shore and poured thousands of fish into the water.

DEER LAKE received roughly 8,000 “catchable-size” rainbow trout this week, plus a bonus of the 204 jump triploids, which average 1.5 pounds apiece.

It will be one of the more intriguing options for anglers on Whidbey Island on April 27, which is opening day for the state’s general lowland lakes.

“It will be exciting for sure,” said Justin Spinelli, a regional fish biologist for the state whose territory includes Whidbey Island.

The state stocks fish in select lakes to spice up the trout fishery for anglers and times it so opening day will be a success.

TYPICALLY, “catchables,” which are trout 10-12 inches in length, are planted in March and April.

Spinelli said that more plants will come in May to replenish some lakes.

“We try to help those fisheries persist as long as possible,” he said.

Smaller trout are stocked in the fall in hopes they’ll reach “catchable” size by the following spring.

Deer Lake, in the south, and three lakes in and around Deception Pass State Park — Cranberry Lake, Heart Lake and Lake Erie — are expected to provide excellent trout fishing opportunities this spring.

CRANBERRY LAKE, located in Deception Pass State Park, is getting more fish planted this year than in recent years, Spinelli said. Already, 6,500 trout were stocked there in March, with 4,000 more expected in May.

It is one of three lakes near Deception Pass that are open to fishing year round, joining Lake Campbell and Pass Lake.

“The lake has very good shoreline access,” Spinelli said of Cranberry. “It provides a very good opportunity to catch trout.”

Heart Lake and Lake Erie, also in Skagit County, don’t allow fishing until opening day. Spinelli said Heart is “stocked to the gills” with fish and includes larger trout.

DEER LAKE and Goss Lake, near Langley, are two lakes on the south end of the island that also are off limits until April 27.

Pass Lake, near the Deception Pass bridge, contains trophy-size fish but the lake has special rules. No motors are allowed and it is fly fishing only. All trout must be released.

Another lake that offers larger trout is Lone Lake near Langley. Last year, Lone Lake received the 204 triploids that Deer Lake got this year.

Lone Lake, however, is a selective-gear fishery with a limit of one fish per day that must be at least 18 inches.

THE RULE that applies to most lakes in Washington is five trout per day with no size limit, but anglers are advised to check state regulations before casting a line in the water (www.wdfw.wa.gov).

The trout that arrived in Clinton this week came from a state hatchery in Arlington. State fish hatchery specialist Dave Whitmer said that he and co-worker Will Irwin brought nearly 2,000 pounds of trout to Deer Lake.

Whitmer said most state ferry workers know what’s inside the massive tanks.

“Most of the guys on the ferry know what we’re hauling,” Whitmer said.

“Most ask, ‘What lake are you going to?’”

 

Reach Whidbey News-Times staff reporter Ron Newberry at 360-675-6611 or rnewberry@whidbeynewsgroup.com

 

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