By Kimberly Mason / For The Chronicle
Opening day is finally upon us, and in Lewis County, the fisherman has options.
If you are looking for an 8-pound lunker, go to Carlisle Lake in Onalaska, or hit Mineral Lake early Saturday morning. For a little family-friendly competition, try Fort Borst Pond, Centralia, where kids and parents will be lining the banks for the juveniles-only fishing derby sponsored by the Centralia Lions Club.
For more serious competitive action, head out to Riffe Lake for the Lewis County Bass Club Open Tournament. Go to the club website, www.lewiscountybassclub.com, or call club president Mark Robinson, 736-0903, for more information.
Don’t have a bass boat with a live well? Try Offut Lake Resort in Tenino, you can fish off the dock or rent a boat.
No matter what your skill level, experience or lack thereof, you don’t have to go far to find good fishing on opening day. If this is your first, or even if this is your 101st opening day, every angler needs to come to the water prepared.
Get Ready to Catch Some Fish
Make sure you have your fishing license. Kids 14 and under don’t need a license. Fifteen-year-old anglers can buy a combination fishing and shellfish license for $9. If you are 16-69 years old, you can get your basic freshwater fishing license for $24. Over 69 and the price goes down to just six bucks.
You can purchase you license online, at the store where you buy your fishing gear or, in many places, lakeside.
Make sure you know the rules. Go to http://wdfw.wa.gov and hit the link for fishing. Everything you need to know is right at your fingertips. Or you can pick up the 2010/2011 Sportfishing Rules Pamphlet where you buy your license.
The rule book for this year’s fishing guidelines will not be out until May 1.
Be safe. Children 12 and under are required to wear a life jacket when they are on the water in any boat under 19-feet long. It’s the law. Young children should wear a life jacket anytime they are near the water.
Get your gear cleaned and organized. Saturday morning, when you are out on the water, standing elbow to elbow around Carlisle Lake, is not the time to find out your reel is full of sand.
If you’re buying new, a kid-sized combo rod — which includes the rod, reel and line — can be had for as little as $15 and as much as $30. A life jacket will run between $10 and $20.
Pack along some patience if you are heading for the more popular spots. Dress for the weather and stow a few power bars in your pocket in case the fish are biting and you aren’t ready to get off the water at lunchtime.
Trout are pretty simple creatures. Nightcrawlers under a bobber with 3 to 4 feet of leader — newly planted trout like to hang out in the 3- to 5-foot range. PowerBait with 3 to 4 feet of leader and an egg sinker, cast out off the dock or the bank and watch your pole tip.
Trollers seem to have the best luck with wedding rings with a worm, flatfish, or spinners.
Fort Borst Pond, Centralia
The Centralia Lions Club has been holding its opening day juveniles-only fishing derby at Fort Borst Pond in Centralia for more than 50 years. They know how to help a kid enjoy a good day fishing.
The derby is open to children ages 5 to 14.
The derby starts at 8 a.m. Saturday morning and ends at noon, when the prizes will be distributed.
The Riverside Fire Authority has donated three bicycles to give away; there are also fishing poles and other prizes donated by Sunbird Shopping Center, Cabellas and others.
Every young fisherman will be treated to a free hot dog and a carton of milk. Entry into the derby is free.
Borst Park Pond is a juvenile anglers only lake, only kids 14 and under can cast a line into the water.
Fishing should be good on this little 5-acre lake; there were 372 triploids averaging 1.5 pounds each added to the water this month.
More than 400 kids entered the derby last year. Come early and enjoy the day.
Offut Lake, Tenino
Fishing runs year-round at Offut Lake in Tenino, but Becky Pogue, owner of the Offut Lake Resort, likes to start the trout season off with a three-day trout derby to stir up some excitement over the water.
The tournament is limited to Offut Lake Resort guests only — if you are camping, renting a boat from the resort or have paid your $5 for a daily dock pass, you only need to pay another $1 per day to enter the derby.
First prize is a Minn-Kota trolling motor and there are plenty of other prizes. The derby starts a day early, Friday, and runs through Sunday. The winner will be announced at 6 p.m. on Sunday.
“A lot of people start their fishing weekend here on Friday,” said Pogue, “and then head over to Mineral Lake for the Saturday derby and back here to fish again on Sunday.”
There are plenty of fish in the water as anglers have been limiting out with decent strings of healthy rainbows. The lake has recently been stocked with hundreds of two-year-old cutthroat trout and jumbo rainbows, thousands of catchables and there are a lot of nice holdover fish from last year.
Make sure you bring a floating wire basket with you to keep your rainbow beauties in while you fish. If you don’t have one, they are a few at the Offut Lake Resort store, $12.99.
As the sign says in the store, “Ya OTTER get one!”
And you otter for good reason. Saturday afternoon a dock fisherman lost a nice 3 pound rainbow to the fur-bearing, fishy-breathed water beast — he wasn’t a happy camper.
Go to www.offutlakeresort.com for more information, or call Pogue, (360) 264-2438.
The fishing frenzy at Mineral Lake which begins one minute after midnight, early Saturday morning, and just gets rolling as the more dedicated anglers head in for the final weigh in at 12:30 p.m., just in time to grab a bite to eat at the American Legion Hall and grab their prizes before heading back out again.
The whole town of Mineral puts out the welcome mat for the hordes of fisherman that descend upon this small town every year — and for good reason. Mineral Lake is known as “The Home of the 10 Pound Trout.”
Breakfast and lunch is served all day at the American Legion Storm King Post 171 hall, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., where you can get a good meal for five or six dollars.
There is an indoor swap meet at the Mineral Lake Events Center, the Mineral Arts and Crafts Guild will be selling their wares at the Presbyterian church across the street from the post office and you can find garage sales scattered throughout the town.
The fishing derby is open to all comers, all you need is a $2 derby ticket, purchased before 11 a.m. Saturday morning. You can pick up a derby ticket at the Mineral Market, Headquarters Tavern, American Legion Hall, Mineral Lake Resort or the Elbe Grocery.
The top prize for the day is a Minn-Kota C2 30-pound thrust trolling motor. But you don’t have to catch a fish to win a prize. There are more than 40 raffle prizes and drawing starts after the 1 p.m. derby awards.
WDFW has Mineral Lake well stocked with rainbows and triploids. In February they dropped in 319 trout in the 3- to 8-pound range. They tossed in 687 triploids earlier this month, averaging 1.5 pounds each. Last summer 100,000 rainbow trout fingerlings were planted;, they should be catchable size by now.
Last year’s top prize went to a Puyallup gentleman who brought in a 9-pound 7-ounce beauty. Second prize was 9 pounds 2 ounces and third prize jumped down to 7 pounds 10 ounces. Those are some mighty big fish.
See www.minerallake.com for more information and to take a look at last year’s winning fish.
Other Fishable Local Lakes
Carlisle Lake is sure to be a hot spot Saturday morning. This little 20-acre lake in Onalaska has been stocked with some 90 rainbows in the 5- to 8-pound range and 315 of the triploids, averaging 1.5 pounds each. On Carlisle Lake internal combustion motors are prohibited.
In Toledo, the South Lewis County Park Pond was planted with a mixed batch of triploid frys, catchables and jumbos earlier this month. The WDFW website states there are now 580 1.5 pound rainbows in the water.
Plummer Lake, Centralia, should be holding some nice rainbow. The young, non-breeding, double-crested cormorants wouldn’t still be hanging around if there wasn’t something good to eat in the water.
Swofford Pond, east of Mossyrock, has a nice mix of trout, crappie, bluegills, bass and catfish. Even if you don’t catch anything at Swofford, on a beautiful day there isn’t a prettier place to spend your time. It’s quiet out there, and just like Carlisle, internal combustion motors are not allowed.
Kimberly Mason is a freelance writer based in Cinebar. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.