Attention fishers: this may be the year to land a real lunker.
Forty-three lakes in Washington, many close to urban areas, will be stocked just before the April 29 fishing season opener with rainbow trout up to three pounds apiece.
The special stocking is new this year, thanks to a state legislative directive for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) to enhance fishing opportunities.
"Everyone likes to catch a big fish now and then," said WDFW Director Jeff Koenings. "This new program boosts those chances. In the face of growing restrictions on declining stocks of some wild salmon, steelhead, and other fish, it's one thing we can do to meet the sport fishing demand."
WDFW is planting 44,000 one- to three-pound rainbow trout that can grow large because they are sterile. These trout are sterilized by heat or pressure treatment in the egg stage to alter chromosome development, leaving them with three sets of chromosomes instead of two and thus referred to as "triploids." The fish can grow extra large because they spend all their energy feeding and growing instead of reproducing.
If the trout are not caught this year, they can provide true trophy fish catching opportunities in future seasons.
Fishing waters were chosen to receive the extra-large trout based on proximity to urban areas so that the maximum number of fishers could take advantage of the opportunity. Waters were also chosen on the basis of size and habitat conditions to handle quantities of the large fish.
By county, here's where and how many of the extra large rainbows are being stocked: