Trout season opens Saturday on Deer, Goss lakes

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

State fish hatchery specialist Will Irwin holds his ground while rainbow trout dump into Deer Lake in Clinton on April 18. The Department of Fish and Wildlife stocked 4

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, 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 to 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 and three lakes to the north, Cranberry Lake, Heart Lake and Lake Erie, are expected to provide excellent trout fishing opportunities this spring.

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

A 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. It is open all year.

The rule that applies to most lakes in Washington is five trout per day, but anglers are advised to check state regulations before casting a line in the water (

The trout that arrived in Clinton last week came from a state fish 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?’”


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