Long Lake is now home to nearly 8,000 new temporary lake residents.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) released the 2023 season’s 1st installments of 7,971 catchable size rainbow trout into Long Lake between March 22nd and March 28th . Two subsequent installment releases are scheduled for May and November bringing the total Long Lake seasonal release count to 13,336. The spring release from the Eells Springs Hatchery in Shelton averaged just under ½ pound each.
WDFW provides opportunity for anglers by stocking fish in lakes and streams around the state. They monitor fishing activity in waters around the state by interviewing anglers at fishing access sites. Release numbers vary by lake, but generally target 60-80 “catchable size” fish per acre. Larger size trout are released from the hatchery breeding stock in smaller numbers. The largest stocked rainbow in the last 6 months weighed in at 10 lbs. at 14 different lakes.
Lake size and fishing pressure/popularity are the key factors in determining release counts. Freshwater hatcheries in Washington focus primarily on trout species. That said, the WDFW Warmwater Fish Program began in 1997, due in part to requests from various fishing organizations who were interested in promoting bass, walleye, and other warmwater fish species found in Washington. Those fish reproduce naturally. Long Lake is included in the WDFW Warmwater Fish Program goals.
What happens to the released fish? These numbers vary widely by lake and season. Some estimate that of the fish released, about ¼ die from natural causes after release, ¼ contribute to the wildlife food chain, ¼ “live over” to the next season, ¼ are caught by anglers.
Riley Freeman, WDFW Area Fish Biologist, (360) 810-0724, Riley.Freeman@dfw.wa.gov