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Lone Lake becomes a
"Photo: Dee Wahl enjoys fishing Lone Lake with PowerBait, but as of May 1 she and other anglers will be limited to artificial lures only, and the daily catch limit will drop to a single large trout.Jim Larsen / staff photoLone Lake's new rulesHere are the new rules at Lone Lake effective May 1.* Only artificial lures may be used* One fish daily limit* That fish must be at least 18-inches longOne of South Whidbey's most popular fishin' holes will become more exclusive May 1.No more worms, eggs, marshmallows, shrimp or the ever-popular PowerBait -- only artificial lures will be allowed.And the days of going home with a stringer filled with five plump trout will be over. Instead, anglers can take only one fish daily, and it'll have to be big -- anything under 18 inches will have to be thrown back into the lake to grow some more. Most lake trout around here are in the 8-12 inch range.All those changes are occurring because effective May 1, Lone Lake will be managed as quality water. The change in management was approved at a Feb. 4-5 meeting of the state Fish and Wildlife Commission in Anacortes, and occurred with little if any notice on South Whidbey.Now that word is getting around, not everyone likes the notion of casting out artificial lures or flies into Lone Lake in hopes of landing a solitary lunker.Dee and Danny Wahl have enjoyed fishing Lone Lake for years, either from their boat or shore with hooks loaded with PowerBait, a sticky, scented substance that comes in a variety of trout-attracting colors.We just like to sit in the boat with the bait in the water and relax, Dee Wahl said. I relax and catch enough for dinner. I love it.Danny Wahl worries that Lone Lake will become a yuppie lake, the type that attracts more elite anglers such as fly fishermen, while families with kids have to go elsewhere.Dee Wahl added that seniors who live along the lake enjoy sitting from a dock and dangling a baited hook in the water. This is going to hurt a lot of the older people down here, she said.The Wahls say they are willing to organize a petition effort to stop the Lone Lake changes from taking effect, or at least make changes in time for next year. Anyone interested can call 321-4820 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.Fishing with flies or artificial lures requires trolling with out motor (motors will still be allowed after May 1) or continually casting. The Wahls worry that all that casting will be hard on older people, particularly.The Wahls are also angry that local notice wasn't given of the proposed change. No signs were posted, news releases sent or fishing groups notified.The lack of notification was verified by Sally Berry, president of the Holmes Harbor Rod & Gun Club, and Dick Trefts, treasurer of the South Whidbey Chapter of Puget Sound Anglers. Both expressed concern this week that they knew nothing about the changes before they became law.It's all out of the blue to me, said Berry.Mike Gallion, president of The Fishin' Club, is one of the few people who monitor the Department of Fish & Wildlife's Web site, and he said he noticed the proposed Lone Lake changes on the site. But his club had nothing to do with the changes, he said. Nobody asked.Gallion isn't philosophically opposed to the change, however. It's an experiment, he said. They'll try it and see what happens. He admits it will cut down on the way kids traditionally fish for small, recently-planted trout with a worm or egg on their hook. But he says if they're patient a one-to-three pounder is more exciting.Kurt Kraemer, area fish biologist for Fish and Wildlife, said the Lone Lake changes went through the usual public process. I talked to several people on the island, he said, adding that game agents interviewed people at the lake last season.According to Kraemer, there's a growing demand for speciality fishing, and Lone Lake is is well suited to growing large trout. Trout grow faster in the warm, shallow, nutrient-rich lake than almost anywhere else in the state, Kraemer said. Lone Lake was once one of the most popular opening day fishing destinations in the area, but a few years ago it was changed to year-around fishing due to heavy bird predation of planted fish. The continual presence of boats on the lake scares away many of the birds.Kraemer said the new rules for Lone Lake will be printed in the 2000 fishing pamphlet which is due out May 1.State Rep. Dave Anderson, D-Clinton, was contacted by the Wahls and he, too, was caught by surprise by the management changes.There wasn't real good public notification locally, Anderson said. I can see the pros and cons and why the traditional bait fishermen are going to be upset, but I like the idea. It could be good for the locals and a tourist draw as well.Anderson is interested in what his constituents have to say about the issue. However, it's too late to stop it from happening this year. It's going to happen this year no matter what, he said. And it's worth giving it a try. Lunker sterile triploids due at Lone LakeSome time this month Lone Lake will become home to 850 lunker trout compliments of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.Lone Lake is one of 43 lakes throughout the state that will be stocked with sterile rainbow trout just before the official opening of fishing season on April 29.The trout will weigh from one to three pounds each. They grow so large because they are sterile, according to a department news release. The trout are sterilized by heat or pressure treatment in the egg stage to alter chromosome development, leaving them with three sets of chromosomes instead of two. Thus, the lunkers are referred to as triploids.The fish can grow extra large because they spend all their energy feeding and growing instead of reproducing, states a news release.Any fish not caught this year will become true trophy fish-catching opportunities in future years.South Whidbey fishermen will have a narrow window of opportunity to catch the lunkers using bait. After May 1, Lone Lake will become a quality waters lake. Only artificial lures will be allowed and the daily catch limit will be one fish that must be at least 18 inches in length."