The Black Friday trout fishing opener has become very popular since its inception a few years ago, and even though the state does not close the lakes ahead of the event as they used to, the participating lakes will see plenty of attention Friday.
The WDFW promotes the event as an alternative to fighting the crowds that go shopping on the day following Thanksgiving, and the public has embraced it whole-heartedly.
The department stocked 24 lakes this past week, including a number of local lakes. The trout are big, too, with some of them reaching lengths of 15 or 16 inches. Also, there are several brood trout stocked into some of the lakes, offering anglers a chance at a true trophy in the 5- to 10-pound range.
“We may have gone away from the closures,” said Stacie Kelsey of the WDFW Inland Fishes Program, “but the tradition has stuck. People may be fishing it early, but they are really out there on Black Friday.”
“It has literally become a family tradition thing.”
Kelsey noted that two lakes in Clark County have been stocked: Klineline Pond in the Salmon Creek Park in Vancouver, and Battle Ground Lake in Battle Ground.
Other stockings include Fort Borst Park Pond and the South Lewis County Park Pond in Lewis County, Kress Lake in Cowlitz County, and Rowland Lake in Klickitat County. Each of these lakes received 2,000 rainbows this week ahead of the event.
However, crowding at these lakes is a concern going into the holiday weekend, as the COVID-19 virus has been spiking in Washington State. Health officials are mindful that the event may put anglers in the difficult position of trying to manage staying socially distant on crowded lakes.
“I want to remind anglers to recreate responsibly,” Kelsey said. “Please follow state guidelines for distance and for masks. Do everything you can to be cautious for yourself and everyone around you.
“If you woke up late, and if there are too many people at your favorite lake-please be careful.”
Anglers should have a Plan B in place if they find their favorite lake too crowded.
For information and timely updates, check the WDFW COVID-19 website for tips on how to stay safe.
According to Kelsey, anglers at both Klineline and Battle Ground take the majority of their trout on Berkley Powerbait fished off the bottom. Bank fishing is very good at Klineline Pond, but the lake is small and access is limited to the beach and the shoreline along the southern bank. Fishers may find it difficult to maintain proper social distancing here.
A few fly anglers also do well in Klineline Pond. The lake is located in the Salmon Creek Regional Park in Vancouver. A park pass is required and is available on site.
At Battle Ground Lake, located in Battle Ground State Park, boat anglers have an advantage and are able to reach the deepest parts of the lake where most of the trout hold. Anglers can also reach the deep water from the dock, and there is some bank access around the lake. A Discover Pass is required.
Rowland Lake in Klickitat County, located on State Highway 14 about five miles east of the town of Bingen, is a much larger lake than Klineline and Battle Ground, and it offers plenty of room for both boaters and bank anglers. There is a gravel boat ramp for launching smaller craft, as well as ADA parking and bathroom.
It is a favorite of Buzz Ramsey of Yakima Bait, who usually fishes the lake with family on Black Friday. However, you won’t see him out there at daybreak.
“For Black Friday I try to get there at 9 (a.m.), although even when we do that it seems the bite doesn’t get going until 10,” he said.
Ramsey said the trout bite better once the lake warms up a little, and he takes his cue from the weather as to where to fish.
“On warm afternoons if you get that sun on the north bank it can be really good,” Ramsey said. “The trout can congregate on that north bank.”
If it is windy, he said the schools can get pushed to the east bank. If the fish were just recently stocked, they can often be found hanging around the boat ramp. That is where the fish get dumped, and it takes some time for them to move into other areas.
Ramsey likes to flat-line troll with Maglip plugs in the 2.0, 2.5, or 3.0 sizes. His favorite colors include gold with a red back, blaze red, or when its sunny, silver. He often tips the plugs with a small piece of Berkley Trout Worm.
Bank anglers can spread out all around the lake, but most fish to the east of the boat launch. Kelsey said that one of the most effective baits for bank anglers here are worms fished with a red egg. Fishing the worm with a floating bait such as Powerbait or a small Corky can keep the worm in the strike zone just a few inches off the bottom.
Some anglers cast spinners such as Rooster Tails from the bank, and they often do well.
A Discover Pass and WDFW Parking pass are required.
Trout fishing is a great way to work a few of those turkey-day calories off, and the trout are big, chunky, and ready to bite.
Getting the whole family out to fish can be fun, and healthy, but anglers are once again reminded to protect yourself and others by following the guidelines, masking up if near other anglers, and fishing only with members of your own household.
Terry Otto’s Southwest Washington fishing update and forecast can be found as part of Bob Rees’ “The Guides Forecast” at: https://www.theguidesforecast.com/