In western Washington many lakes are managed as “put and take” lakes. This means that each year the state stocks the lakes with “catchable” sized trout so people can immediately catch (and eat) the fish.
There are pros and cons with strategy, but I’ll not go over that now. Instead I want to focus on what that means to us as fishermen.
The most obvious thing that means is that the more fish they stock, then the more for us to catch. Less obvious is that fishing can be great often right after it is stocked.
Thankfully the WDFW is fairly transparent with the information it shares about what lakes are going to be stocked, roughly when and how many fish.
This information is published for the year around March in the Annual Stocking Plan document.
In addition they also update their web site with weekly stocking reports on what was recently stocked.
We can certainly look at this raw information and say “Lake Maraget is getting 5,000 fish, but Lake Alice only 3,900. Therefore Lake Maraget will be a great place to fish.”
And you would be right, Lake Maraget would be a good place to go fishing.
However that isn’t the entire story. Lake Maraget twice as big as Lake Alice. 44 acres vs 22 acres.
So when we think about fish density we find that Lake Alice is getting 177 fish per acre, where Lake Maraget is 114 fish per acre.
With a higher fish density we can expect that Lake Alice might fish quite a bit better than the raw 3,900 fish count suggested.
So each year I compile the information into a spreadsheet which I can use to sort and filter to see how my favorite lakes will be stocked, as well as identify new lakes to try out. Here is a sample on how that spreadsheet looks.
While there are many other factors that affect how well a lake fishes, especially as the year goes on, this information certainly can be useful, especially when deciding new places to try.