FINS, FUN & FEATHERS: Anglers rejoice--opening day is finally here

For most outdoor enthusiasts, this weekend will be summed up in one word: trout. No matter what the weather may be telling us, the traditional opening of the lakes is the best indicator that winter is just a memory, for now. By all means trout fishing is not the only thing out there.

Most of you have been waiting for this to arrive and now the time has come. When the sun rises today, most of our area lakes will have numerous boats on them, and an army of anglers on the shore. Just about any lake you choose will give you a very good opportunity to catch fish; some will just be a little easier than others.

Lake Erie is probably one of the most popular destinations for local anglers, with good reason; it gets some of the largest plants in Skagit County. To fish this lake, a boat is a necessity, shore access is non-existent. Even if you have a boat, plan on sharing space with an armada of other boaters.

Nearby Heart Lake used to be a well kept secret for many of us here on the island, but over the last few years, the secret has been let out. This small lake just outside of Anacortes gets ample fish from the state, plus a boat is not required. A path goes around the lake, and you can find some areas with enough room to cast a line. Before I got a boat, the boys and I would take the path from the parking area toward the north. As you start to curve around the lake, you will see an opening large enough to launch a boat. Hopefully the weather is warm enough, because you need to wade out a little ways in order to cast your offerings.

If you don’t mind a little drive, the lakes at the south end of the island, (Lone, Deer, & Goss), don’t get as much pressure, but still provide a good fishing opportunity.

Remember, early in the season, these fish will still be near the surface. One common mistake is anglers going too deep. The first couple of weeks most of the fish will be caught in the top six feet of water. If you decide to troll, slow down in the beginning. These fish will not be interested in chasing down their next meal. Light line works best early in the season also. Six-pound test is the heaviest you’d want to go, with four being a better choice.

Regardless of where you try, or what you use, try and take a youngster with you and share with them this time honored tradition.



Shrimping season kicked off with mixed results, plus the state has added a new wrinkle to this year’s bag limit. Every person may retain 80 spot shrimp as part of their ten-pound daily limit. You must include those 80 as part of your poundage limit. In addition, each boat may only have four shrimp pots onboard.

As shrimping gets more popular, the strain on the resource gets greater. The state is putting limits on the fishery in order to extend the amount of time anglers can spend on the water. Without restrictions, the state feels it would have to greatly curtail the season.


The spring turkey season is just about half over and if you haven’t hit the woods, you had best pack the truck and head east. From all reports, hunters have been having success in the northeastern corner. It is a very good bet that Stevens County will once again be among the leaders in harvest again this year.

For those that are just now getting out there, be prepared these birds are going to be just a little tougher. The toms have heard all sorts of calls and some have been shot at only to file the information to confound the next hunter. What may have worked in during the opener may not cut it now.

The first tip is to tone down the calling. Many birds have already mated so the desire to reproduce is starting to calm down; also these birds are getting more knowledgeable about hunters. Soft clucks and yelps to get their attention, then very little calling after that. Try using a decoy or two, this will give the bird something visual to lock on, and may drop his guard enough to allow you a shot. Don’t wait, now is the time to get out in the woods.

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