PINE LAKE, King County, Wash. — Shortly after 8 a.m., Don Whalen of Issaquah was already at the boat ramp reveling in the bright sunlight on what had been a successful fishing outing.
Whalen hasn’t missed the traditional early morning wake-up of the statewide opening day for trout in 26 years.
On this trip Whalen took granddaughter Savannah Whalen and her friend Jesse Donaldson, who all managed to catch their five-trout daily limit in about one hour trolling a wedding ring lure behind their canoe.
“It was a lot of fun catching fish, and we had a really great time,” said Donaldson, who attends Beaver Lake Middle School with Savannah.
Brothers Larry and Dale Karr of Lake Sammamish also found fishing to their liking at Pine, and each had a limit of trout within two hours.
“We caught nothing big with the largest trout being about 14 inches,” said Dale, who saw lots of fish jumping first thing in the morning.
The big noticeable difference as I gazed across the 88-acre lake nestled on the Issaquah Plateau wasn’t so much for what was occurring, but for what really didn’t happen.
An excellent catch rate with many going home early with their limits was obvious, but what struck me was a lack of fishing pressure.
“There seems to be a lot less people out fishing, and I would say it’s about a third less of the crowd that I’ve checked at Pine compared to the past six years,” said Adam Lindquist, a state Fish and Wildlife checker. “That means there should be plenty of fish to catch for the next few weeks if not longer.”
Elsewhere, state Fish and Wildlife biologist Justin Spinelli and inland fish managers Chris Donley and Jim Scott trekked to four lakes across the Puget Sound region.
“We stopped by Howard, Ki, Martha (at Alderwood Manor) and Wilderness,” Spinelli said. “People were pretty successful in those waters, and each had a decent turnout. We saw a lot of kids carrying limits of trout at Wilderness, and it was terrific weather and everyone was smiling.”
In Eastern Washington, Chad Jackson, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist, surveyed Warden Lake in Grant County and reported good action under excellent warm-weather conditions.
“Fishing was really good, and way better than the past couple of years,” Jackson said. “I keep seeing a trend that not everybody is rushed to get out first thing in the morning.”
“There is a general attitude change compared to 30 years ago when every angler was a harvester, and there was a big rush to get out early and get their fish,” Jackson said. “Now most people enjoy their time fishing, and not necessarily the catching aspect part of it.”
Elsewhere in Grant County, Jackson said catch rates were fantastic, and fish size across the board was good.
“All the yearlings were 11 to 13 inches,” Jackson said. “Effort across the board was a pinch higher than last year.”