ELMA – Fishing should get a lot better at the Vance Creek ponds over the next few days, as the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) begins stocking them with coho salmon and steelhead from the Lake Aberdeen Hatchery.
Starting today (Oct. 9), WDFW will begin planting Pond No. 2 with up to 1,500 coho, many weighing up to 10 pounds a piece. Pond 1 is scheduled to receive 300 coho Oct. 10, and WDFW expects to plant each pond with up to 150 steelhead in the near future.
Pond No. 1 is a local "juvenile and senior-only" fishing area reserved for anglers age 14 and younger or over 70 years old. Pond No. 2 is open to all anglers through the end of November.
Bill Campbell, WDFW regional fisheries manager, said the fish planted into the two ponds are part of the early return to nearby Lake Aberdeen Hatchery, where the run is expected to exceed the number of fish needed for continuing hatchery production.
"These fish are in good condition and are exciting fish to catch," Campbell said.
"It's a real thrill, especially for kids who have never caught a large fish like a salmon or steelhead."
Campbell recommends that anglers try spinners or a salmon egg cluster fished a few feet below a surface bobber to catch the big ones.
WDFW has released hatchery coho and steelhead into area ponds and lakes for several years, providing additional fishing opportunities for anglers of all ages.
Under the "landlocked salmon rules" in effect on the Vance Creek ponds, a maximum of five fish per day (including trout and salmon) may be retained, only two of which may be steelhead. A Catch Record Card is not required.
While the salmon destined for both ponds are in good condition, Campbell cautioned people with dogs to make sure their pets don't eat dead salmon around the ponds in the weeks ahead.
"Salmon are known to carry a parasite that has no effect on humans, but can be lethal to dogs that ingest uncooked salmon," Campbell said. "Salmon carcasses are beneficial to the ecology of the ponds, but they're definitely not good news for dogs."