By Kimberly Mason
For The Chronicle
Over 300,000 anglers are expected to hit trout waters across the state this weekend for the opening day of the 2012 lowland lakes season this Saturday, Apr. 28.
It doesn’t matter where you go in Lewis County, south Thurston or upper Cowlitz County, you’ll find fish and you’ll find them aplenty.
With the sunny days we’ve been experiencing, the waters have warmed and the fish are hungry. It’s time to hit the water. But first, it’s best to spend some time getting ready before you go.
It Pays to Be Prepared
Make sure you have your fishing license before you head out to water.
Kids 14 and under don’t need a license. Fifteen-year-old anglers and persons with disabilities can buy a combination fishing license for $8.25. If you are 16-69 years old, you can get your basic freshwater fishing license for $27.50. Over 69 and the cost for a freshwater license drops down to $5.50.
Make sure you know the local lake rules. Go to http://wdfw.wa.gov and hit the link for fishing to find rules and regs. If you still aren’t sure after reading up, hit up the local bait shop owner for details.
Don’t forget to get your gear in order too. Put new line on your spinning real, clean out your coolers, check your boat trailer lights and make sure your tackle box has a good supply of hooks, leader, lures, weights and extra bobbers.
If you’re packing kids along for the outing, get them all in life jackets — even if they are just standing on a dock or pond side and aren’t climbing in a boat.
You can count on young anglers getting wet, dirty, hungry, and even bored. So pack plenty of snacks, drinks, extra clothing and towels, and you might consider throwing in a few coloring books and a pack of crayons to keep them occupied.
Best Bait Bets
You can try 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 — but dough baits, such as PowerBait, are your best bet. The dough baits attract hungry catchables that have become accustomed to having their food thrown at them in pellet form.
Pop a slip sinker on your main line, rig up 3 to 4 feet of leader (attached to a swivel), cast out off the dock or the bank and watch your pole tip.
For fish that have sat in local waters for two weeks or more and have switched their fish brains over to looking for insects, Charles McElroy of Sunbird Shopping Center recommends throwing a black wooly worm or olive wooly bugger under a bobber, size 10.
“Cast out, let it sit for a bit, then start to reel in,” said McElroy. “Reel real, real slow.”
Trollers seem to have the best luck with wedding rings with a worm, say Becky Pogue of Offut Lake Resort.
Fort Borst Park Lake, Centralia
For over 50 years the Centralia Lion Club has been holding their opening day juveniles’ only fishing derby, open to children up to 14 years of age, at Fort Borst Park Lake in Centralia. They know how to do it up right. There will not only be plenty of fish to go around, but plenty of prizes too.
Three bicycles, donated by the Riverside Fire Authority, Cabela’s has tossed in 35 fishing rods to the prize mix and Sunbird Shopping Center donated $200 of fishing gear.
The derby starts with registration at 9 a.m. Saturday morning and ends at noon, when the prizes will be distributed.
Over 3,000 rainbow trout have been growing in the local pond and haven’t seen a fishing line since lowland lakes closed Feb. 28. Borst Park Pond is a great bet for young opening day anglers.
Offut Lake Resort, 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.
Offut Lake received a plant of 10,500 catchable-sized rainbow trout by Offut Lake Resort owners earlier this week. WDFW also released 196 rainbows averaging 1.5 lb. each just last week, plus 3,500 rainbows in March and 1,000 cutthroat in February.
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 Sunday evening.
Go to http://www.offutlakeresort.com for more information, or call Becky Pogue, 360-264-2438.
Mineral Lake, Mineral
Mineral Lake is stocked and set for a big lunker show on Saturday. WDFW added to the 17,000 catchable rainbows planted in February with another 10,000 rainbows, 687 triploids and 2,500 brown trout.
The fishing frenzy at Mineral Lake begins one minute after midnight, early Saturday morning, for the 19th annual American Legion Storm King Post 171 Fishing Derby.
Derby tickets are $2 each and are available in Mineral. Buy as many tickets as you want to, you might win a raffle prize at the end of the day raffle drawing at 1:00 p.m.
See http://www.minerallake.com for more information and to take a look at last year’s winning fish.
Kimberly Mason is a freelance writer based in Cinebar. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.