Eight o’clock in the morning, and only one car parked at Icehouse Lake?
This small lake on the Washington end of the Bridge of the Gods in the Columbia River Gorge had been stocked well with trout in December. Where were all the anglers on a Saturday morning?
Matt Adamson and his seven-year old son, Ethan, from Vancouver were trying to get a few fish, but had no bites yet. It was their first excursion of the year.
“We fished here last spring and did good,” said Matt. “So good in fact that we never went anywhere else.”
A couple more cars had arrived by 9 a.m. By 9:30 the lake was bustling with fishermen, and at 10 am the trout began biting.
The savvy local anglers knew enough to sleep in and wait for the bite.
A youngster asked politely if he could fish from the bank near me, and soon he was fishing hard. Jack Keith-Fos, 11, was obviously an experienced fisherman for his age.
According to his father, Dale, the younger Keith-Fos was a hard-core fishermen that often plied the waters of the Columbia just a short walk from his home.
“He’s out there every morning, rain or shine,” said Dale.
The family lives only a couple miles from the lake.
We began to get a few bites and caught a few trout, but the pair of fishermen next to us were putting on a clinic. They offered us some shrimp from their bait-box, and our success increased.
All around the lake trout were being landed on Berkley Powerbait, shrimp, and worms. A few were taken on Rooster Tail spinners. Most of the anglers had at least a couple fish, and some left with limits.
Trout fishing picking up
Trout are biting in lakes all over Southwest Washington, according to Stacie Kelsey of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Region 5 Inland Fishes Program.
“Everywhere it’s just really good for trout right now,” said Kelsey. “You can go pretty much anywhere right now and have a really good trip,”
“I have had steelheaders asking me where to go for trout this year,” she added.
Steelhead fishing has been poor so far, and many would-be steelheaders are turning to trout for some action this winter.
Local lakes have been stocked well with trout, and Kelsey said the stockings will continue through April at most lakes.
Most of the trout being stocked are “catchable” rainbows, a term which means they are over 8 inches in length and legal to keep. However, most trout stocked are 9 to 11 inches.
There are some larger trout out there, too. Anglers continue to catch chunky Black Friday trout in the lakes that took part in that event, when many lakes were stocked. Those fish average over a pound and some top two pounds.
In addition, the state has been stocking some trophy-sized brood rainbows that run from 5 to 10 pounds, and is planting adult steelhead into some lakes as well.
Kress Lake near Kelso is still producing some Black Friday trout, and has been repeatedly stocked with adult steelhead from local rivers.
Battle Ground Lake
This water is fishing very well, with anglers doing the best from boats or the boat dock. On some days the bank spots are producing, too.
The lake was stocked with 4,000 catchable rainbows in December, as well as 100 trophy-sized brood trout. A few Black Friday trout remain, too.
The lake is in Battle Ground State Park near the city of Battle Ground.
This small lake north of Vancouver is fishing very well for catchable sized rainbow trout, and a few Black Friday trout are still showing up on occasion.
Usually one of the slower-fishing local trout lakes, Horseshoe Lake in Woodland has been doing better than usual. It was stocked with 2,400 catchable rainbows and 86 brooder trophy-sized rainbow trout in December.
This lake north of Camas was stocked with 6,000 catchable rainbows in December, and has been fishing well.
Little Ash Lake
A small lake along Highway 14 near Stevenson, Little Ash Lake was stocked with 1,500 catchable rainbows and 30 brood rainbows in December. This water may be the best bet for anglers seeking solitude. Kelsey reports it is not drawing many anglers this year.
Lake Sacajawea in Longview was stocked ahead of Christmas with 2,500 catchables, and 640 larger rainbow trout at 0.8 per pound. This was the second time the Christmas Day fishery was held, and the public has responded so well it is slated to become an annual event.
By 1 p.m. the bite at Icehouse Lake was slowing, and many people began to leave. I prepared to do so myself, and bid my new friend good luck.
As I took my leave I spotted young Keith-Fos still fishing with serious concentration. I guessed his father would have to drag him away from the small pond eventually, but you just knew he would be back.
For more information: Check the catchable trout plants page on WDFW’s website, or call the Region 5 office at 360-696-6211.