By Michael Carman
Peninsula Daily News
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THE LAKES ARE brimming, planted with care, in hopes that you and your trout rod will soon be there.
Yes, it's the night (mere hours actually) before the opening of lowland lake trout season.
Supplies like PowerBait, worms and combo rods/reels are rolling off of the shelves of sporting goods stores around our great state in advance of this momentous occasion.
“I'm in really good shape supplies-wise,” said Brian Menkal of Brian's Sporting Goods and More (360-683-1950) in Sequim.
“We've got PowerBait, eggs, worms, wedding rings, lots of stuff for whether you are trolling from shore or working off the bottom.”
Menkal mentioned some combo rods/reels available for less than $10, proving that “people can get started fishing at any price point.”
This is the Super Bowl, the Daytona 500, the Kentucky Derby of the fishing season.
“The lowland lakes season opener is the biggest fishing day of the year,” said Phil Anderson, director of the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.
“Lakes in every county are well-stocked, so there should be good fishing opportunities close to home.”
A lake stocking report for Jefferson and Clallam counties and some area knowledge from a few experts follow.
Those rainbow trout (and bass and kokanee and bluegill . . . ) are all willing and able to bite.
So cast away, cast away, cast away all on North Olympic Peninsula lakes like Leland, Sandy Shore, Wentworth and even Ozette.
Jefferson County lakes
Anderson Lake is the closest fishable lake to the largest population center, Port Townsend, in Jefferson County.
It's easy to find, provides a good boat launch and some solid shore fishing opportunities, but it's a troubled body of water.
Anderson Lake has issues, namely a bloom of the bluegreen algae species Aphanizomenon and Anabaena, which can often produce toxins that in high-enough doses can result in paralysis and death in humans and animals.
“We know that a lot of people are interested in the opening day of trout fishing,” said Michael Dawson, water quality lead for the Jefferson County Public Health Department's Environmental Health division.
“At the same time, we want to be sure people are well aware of what's in the water. In speaking with Anderson Lake State Park manager Mike Zimmerman, I was told that Anderson Lake will be open at daylight on Saturday.”
If you are brave enough, Anderson will have some big fish for the taking due to previous long-lasting toxin closures.
Ward Norden, a fishing tackle wholesaler and former fishery biologist, has gifted me a scouting report on lowland lake fishing opportunities on the Peninsula.
Norden lives at Lake Leland so he has the drop on what he terms “the year-round workhorse of our lowland fishing lakes, providing the largest variety of fishing opportunities with the largest numbers of species of popular game fish on the North Olympic Peninsula.”
Leland had a plant of 6,000 rainbows on April 1, so fishing should be solid there.
Norden pointed out that Sandy Shore Lake, 5 miles east of the Hood Canal Bridge off of state Route 104, “has not only had a healthy plant of catchable (8-inch to 10-inch) trout (2,200 on April 14) but also has had a plant of several dozen trout up to 3 pounds to sweeten your stringers.”
Sandy Shore also has populations of largemouth bass and yellow perch.
“There is a launch is suitable for smaller trailers, and there is parking for a couple dozen cars [and] no gear restrictions.”
Tarboo Lake is found off Center Road at the end of a 4-mile long gravel road, 6 miles north of Quilcene.
The lake was given 1,600 of the smaller rainbows and 50 that can range up to three pounds.
“The lake has a large parking area and an excellent trailerable launch. No gear restrictions,” Norden said.
Silent Lake is off the beaten path on the Coyle Peninsula, but was given a plant of 800 smaller rainbows April 10.
Ludlow Lake, a bit further east of Sandy Shore Lake off state Highway 104, hasn't been stocked but is lesser known and could produce a tasty meal.
“Both have no gear restrictions and have public access launches, but the launches are suitable for hand-carried boats only,” Norden said.
“Silent Lake has very little parking and the access is hard to spot.”
Teal Lake (300 small rainbows), Horseshoe Lake (260 rainbows averaging 3/4 of a pound) and Gibbs Lake (740 smaller rainbows and 110 rainbows ranging up to 1.5 pounds) also are possibilities in the Port Ludlow/Chimacum area.
Take note that Teal, Horseshoe and Gibbs “have significant gear restrictions, making them effectively fly fishing only,” Norden said.
Clallam County lakes
Besides the kids ponds at Lincoln Park in Port Angeles and Carrie Blake Park in Sequim, the only other lake in Clallam County to receive a trout planting was Wentworth Lake near Forks.
Wentworth is difficult to find off of logging roads, offers boat fishing only and requires a state Discover Pass.
The state has planted 3,775 smaller rainbows in the last month and a half, as well as 50 larger trout.
“Rumor has it that it contains a growing largemouth bass population that is becoming a popular summer fishery after trout fishing dies down,” Norden said.
Menkal pointed out Lake Sutherland and Lake Pleasant as other fishing options, despite the lack of a recent plant.
“There are kokanee and cutthroat in those lakes,” Menkal said.
“You can troll all kinds of gear, cow bells, ford fenders, a wedding ring with a bit of worm on it, flat fish super dupers and even Rapalas for bass.
“You can cast some spinners, and you can fish on the bottom with worms or power bait or on top with a bobber and a worm.
“The possibilities are endless.”
It might be a long drive out to Lake Ozette for many but Norden says the “variety of fish to be pursued rivals that of tinier Lake Leland.
“This huge lake has native cutthroat trout, largemouth bass, yellow perch, kokanee and several other species.”
And the best part on this busiest of busy fishing weekends?
“This lake is rarely fished by anyone,” Norden said.
Clamming going well
Menkal passed along some reports of good clamming at Cline Spit near Sequim.
“Cockles and steamers are real common,” Menkal said.
A free seminar on all things halibut in advance of the upcoming season will be offered at Brian's Sporting Goods and More, next to J.C. Penney's at 609 W. Washington St. in Sequim, starting at 6 p.m. Friday, May 2.
John Beath, a tackle designer and manufacturer, will impart his knowledge of just how to stalk the flat fish.
Call ahead to 360-683-1950 or stop by Menkal's store to RSVP for the seminar
Menkal said he may offer a fly fishing class this Tuesday at 6 p.m. if interest warrants.
Phone him at the above number for details.
Halibut fishing focus
How to fish for halibut during the upcoming halibut fishing season also is the focal point of the next meeting of the North Olympic Peninsula Chapter of the Puget Sound Anglers Club.
The meeting is set for Trinity United Methodist Church, located at 100 S. Blake Ave., in Sequim at 6:45 p.m. Thursday.
Halibut fishing opens May 9 in Marine Area 6, the eastern portion of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
At the meeting, members will provide demonstrations of equipment and advice on fishing areas.
There will be an expanded segment on the “boat anchoring method for catching halibut.”
For more information on the group, visit www.psanopc.org.
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Outdoors columnist Michael Carman appears here Thursdays and Fridays. He can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5152 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.