2016 Washington Spring Trout Plants

Each spring, in anticipation of opening day, the WDFW plants lakes around the state with trout. Most are what they call catchable size, which is roughly 8 to 12 inches long. Some are classified as jumbos (over 12 inches) or triploids (which have a higher growth potential).

Rainbow trout make up the majority of fish planted, but other species like brown trout, cutthroat and brook trout are planted in select lakes.

Data Driven Fishing

One of the things I’ve found over the years is that the more fish there are, the easier it is to catch a lot of them.

However, you just can’t look at the raw numbers – you need to look at the number of fish for the size of the lake. In other words, calculate fish density. We do this by dividing the number of fish into the surface area, in acres, of the lake.

In western Washington the target for your average lake is around 100 fish per acre. Some of the well-known “get your limit every time” lakes – such as Pine Lake – get around 200 fish per acre most years.

By looking over the data we can identify some lakes which may have better than average fishing to go try out, and potentially add to our set of favorite lakes.

Lucky for you I’ve taken the data the WDFW has published on their web site for the annual fish stocking plan and ran the numbers for the whole state.

Garbage In, Garbage Out

If you’ve worked with computers you may have heard the phrase “Garbage In, Garbage Out” (closely related to “If you do stupid things, then stupid things happen.”). What that phrase means is our end result is only as good as the data we feed in.

Unfortunately, the WDFW isn’t very good making sure their data is correct or even consistent. For example, this year’s annual stocking plan, in the very first table, they messed up the species being planted.

Another problem is that some rows will something like “800 fish for November – April” which makes it hard to tell how many will get planted in the spring for opening day.

Still yet another problem is that some small ponds are stocked for things like kid’s fishing events, but the stocking data doesn’t always distinguish that.

My goal is to determine how many fish are planted for the spring Opening Day timeframe (March-May). I combined all species of trout. I also combined the data for triploids and jumbos, since triploids are also larger than average.

I’ve done my best to scrub the data, but I’m sure I missed some, or just plain made mistakes. So please use my data as a starting place – then do a deeper investigation with the weekly planting reports which are more accurate.

2016 Trout Plants

2016 Washington Spring Trout Plants

Its All In The Data

Below are some highlights from the data. I’ve filtered out lakes smaller than 10 acres to help eliminate some of the unmarked kids derbys.

If you want to play with the data on your own, then here is the complete spreadsheet.

Top 10 Washington Lakes For Trout

If you just want to catch your limit of trout, then these are lakes you should consider hitting.

County Lake Name Total Fish Fish Per Acre
Clark Klineline Pond 32,971 2,747.6
Chelan Beehive Lake 14,182 1,181.8
Columbia Rainbow Lake 10,925 1,092.5
Clark Battleground Lake 26,705 890.2
Skamania Kidney Lake 6,750 562.5
Thurston Long’s Pond 5,440 544.0
Klickitat Spearfish Lake 11,810 536.8
Cowlitz Kress Lake 15,956 531.9
Lewis Carlisle Lake 9,821 491.1
Lewis South Lewis Co. Pk. Pond 8,198 482.2

Top 10 Washington Lakes For Jumbo Trout

If you want to focus on catching larger than average trout this spring, then check out these lakes.

County Lake Name Num Jumbos Jumbo per Acre
Mason Kokanee Lake 10,400 148.6
Pend Oreille Cooks Lake 700 63.6
Yakima Myron Lake 608 46.8
Thurston Long’s Pond 440 44.0
Grays Harbor Vance Creek Pond #1 586 41.9
Kittitas FioRito Lake (North) 1,408 36.1
Kittitas Mattoon Lake 908 33.6
Columbia Rainbow Lake 325 32.5
Grays Harbor Sylvia Lake 965 30.2
Grays Harbor Vance Creek Pond #2 500 29.4

Seattle Area

We all know the population of the state is skewed towards the Seattle area, so this is what it looks like if we only consider Pierce, King and Snohomish counties.

Top 10 Seattle Area Lakes For Trout

If you just want to catch your limit of trout, then these are lakes you should consider hitting.

County Lake Name Total Fish Fish Per Acre
Snohomish Gissberg Ponds/Twin Lake 5,148 367.7
Pierce Bradley Lake 3,164 243.4
King Geneva Lake 6,828 235.4
King Steel Lake 9,918 215.6
King Walker Lake 2,500 208.3
King Cottage Lake 12,492 198.3
King Wilderness Lake 12,492 186.4
Snohomish Gissberg Ponds/Twin Lake 2,000 181.8
King North Lake 9,992 181.7
King Alice Lake 3,900 177.3

 

Top 10 Seattle Area Lakes For Jumbo Trout

If you want to focus on catching larger than average trout this spring, then check out these lakes.

County Lake Name Num Jumbos Jumbo per Acre
Pierce Ohop Lake 4,632 19.6
Pierce Clear Lake 2,826 18.2
Pierce Louise Lake 500 12.8
Pierce Bradley Lake 164 12.6
King Geneva Lake 328 11.3
Snohomish Gissberg Ponds/Twin Lake 148 10.6
King Steel Lake 418 9.1
King North Lake 492 8.9
King Pine Lake 697 7.9
King Cottage Lake 492 7.8

The Complete Picture

Of course, just as many factors impact catching in general, so do multiple things impact the real number of fish in a lake. There are hold overs from previous years, predatation, wild spawning fishing, Put & Grow fish plants, etc…

So these spring fish plant numbers are just not the complete story, but are a good place to start an investigation.

Comments? Questions?

What is your feeling about using data to drive your fishing? Do you find it helpful? What else do you look at?

Good luck in your fishing, and Tight Lines!

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