Swift, Columbia Gorge lakes ready for trout anglers

By Allen Thomas, Columbian outdoors reporter

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Just short of 112,000 rainbow trout are being stocked in five Southwest Washington lakes and reservoirs that open their fishing seasons on Saturday.

Angling begins at Rowland, Spearfish and Horsethief lakes in Klickitat County plus Kidney Lake and Swift Reservoir in Skamania County.

Statewide, the Department of Fish and Wildlife is releasing fish averaging 11 to 13 inches, about two to three inches longer than normal.

“We have made some changes in our trout hatchery rearing programs in response to the feedback we heard from anglers who really enjoy catching larger fish,” said Phil Anderson, department director. “With these fish, our state’s biggest fishing day of the year just got better.”

Chris Donley, the agency’s inland fish program manager, said the department invested in more feed to grow the fish larger.

“We hope anglers see the increase in the quality of our catchable trout on opening day,’’ he said.

Biologist John Weinheimer of the Department of Fish and Wildlife said he thinks region anglers will notice the difference.

“The hatcheries are trying really hard to have the catchables to 2.5 fish per pound,’’ he said. “They’re nice fish.’’

More than half the trout being stocked for Saturday are going in Swift Reservoir on the upper North Fork of the Lewis River.

The 4,600-acre reservoir is getting 60,000 catchable-size trout plus the power canal between Swift and Yale dams is getting 3,500 rainbows.

Swift Reservoir’s water level was at 993 feet elevation on Wednesday. At elevations greater than 975 feet the boat ramp at Swift Forest Park is usable.

The web address to get the water elevation is http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/total_forecast/getprod.php?wfo=pqr&sid=PQR&pil=rvm.

Kidney Lake near North Bonneville is getting 5,500 rainbow during April and May plus 256 large “triploid’’ rainbow in time for Saturday.

The 12-acre lake got 63 surplus broodstock rainbow trout no longer needed at Goldendale Hatchery back in January.

“I expect the broodstock planted in December and January to show up in good numbers for the opener,’’ Weinheimer said.

Rowland Lake along state Highway 14 east of Bingen in Klickitat County is getting 14,000 rainbow distributed between April and early June along with 928 of the big triploid rainbows. Only the portion north of state Highway 14 is stocked.

Horsethief Lake, 92 acres inside Columbia Hills State Park, is getting 16,300 rainbow between April and May.

The lake has received 100 trout exceeding 5 pounds each, plus got 190 of the surplus broodstock back in December.

Spearfish Lake near Dallesport is getting 11,100 rainbow between April and June with 256 triploids for the opener. Weinheimer said this is the first year for the triploids in Spearfish.