After being overrun by goldfish, fish managers took the final step in restoring West Medical Lake’s trout fishery last week.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife stocked the lake with 15,000 brown trout and 25,000 rainbow catchables, said Randy Osborne, a Washington Fish and Wildlife Department fisheries biologist.
Managers also stocked the lake with about 300 larger brood trout in advance of the Washington lowland lake fishing season, which opens April 27.
Last year, WDFW killed all the fish in the lake using rotenone. The purge came after illegally introduced goldfish populations exploded, overtaking the lake’s trout population.
West Medical Lake, which runs north and south along the western edge of the town of Medical Lake, is one of the more popular spots in the region for anglers on the hunt for rainbow trout, which WDFW introduces seasonally.
“I wanted to hold off on stocking as long as possible,” Osborne said, noting that allowed the lake to go through its normal winter and early spring cycles.
WDFW put more trout in the lake in the hopes that they would eat any goldfish that survived the rotenone treatment.
Goldfish were likely introduced in the lake as live bait. Such introductions are unfortunately common, Osborne said, despite being illegal and expensive. The rotenone treatment cost $150,000. Restocking the lake with rainbow and brown trout brings the total cost up to $294,200 over the next decade.
“For the life of me, I just can’t get it through my head why or how someone would think that is the right thing to do,” he said. “That’s either very ignorant or very selfish, in my opinion. Please leave the fish stocking to the department of fish and wildlife.”
As for spring fishing, although last year’s new fishing regulation changes made a number of lakes open year-round, Osborne said it didn’t affect any of the lakes in his district that covers Lincoln, Spokane and Whitman counties.
For anglers looking for the first-day rush, Osborne recommends checking out Badger and Williams lakes (see Alan Liere’s fishing-hunting).
Badger Lake was stocked with 5,000 catchable rainbows, 150 brood rainbows, 1,000 put-and-grow cutthroat in recent weeks. Last year, the lake was stocked with 15,000 rainbow spring fry and 20,000 cutthroat spring fry.
Williams Lake was stocked with 7,000 catchable rainbows and 200 brood rainbows. That’s in addition to the 90,000 rainbow spring fry stocked there last year and 500 put-and-grow cutthroat and 11,000 tiger trout.
Fish Lake might also have good angling, although illegally introduced yellow perch are causing problems.
“The fishing should be OK there if you can just keep the perch off your line,” Osborne said. “Yellow perch have got back in there and are fairly numerous.”
For anglers who don’t want the opening-day crowds, Osborne recommends Lake Spokane and Sprague Lake, two year-round lakes that were recently stocked.
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