OUTDOORS: Lowland lakes trout opener Saturday statewide

A BOOMING BELLY laugh was all it took to know John Brewer was at work at the Peninsula News offices.

You could hear the man’s cheerful and friendly laughter ring out in every corner — and it even carried through a heavy swinging door to the office kitchen.

Brewer died last Friday in a boating accident while doing what he loved best — fly fishing — on the Bitteroot River in Montana. He was 76.

The big boss for much of my tenure at the paper, Brewer gave me the OK to start as a sports assistant, then added on golf column duties and was willing to give me a shot as the primary, and eventually only, news desk coordinator for a good long stretch.

When I was learning to write in newspaper style, Brewer and I would convene in his fishbowl office for 20-30 minutes as he patiently edited my briefly items about events, accomplishments, businesses and other community-flavored minutiae.

It felt like a mini-journalism school for someone who had never even written for his school paper.

Employees were John’s kiddos, his punkos and any number of other pet nicknames often applied with his hands clasped on your shoulders as you typed on your computer screen.

A dedicated and professional journalist, Brewer never forgot those roots when he moved into leadership roles with The Associated Press and the New York Times.

Seeing his former sales reps, customer service workers and reporters share appreciation and thanks for his impact on their lives — many of them calling Brewer a mentor — has made me smile.

He made a difference. We will miss you, JB.

Lowland lake opener

Saturday marks the annual lowland lakes trout opener around the state and thousands of anglers are expected to take part.

A while ago, WDFW hatcheries created a cost-effective way to produce larger catchable-size trout in hatcheries, which has received rave reviews in surveys taken during previous openers. These catchable-size trout average 2.5 fish per pound, or 12 to 14 inches apiece.

Top that off with the nearly 143,000 “jumbo” trout measuring more than 14 inches and averaging one to 1.5 pounds that are destined for many lakes across the state. Most of the jumbos will be planted in March and April, and others will be saved for fall planting.

Taking it up another notch are the almost 1.5 million trout categorized as “put, grow and take” — reared in hatcheries and 2.6 to 10 fish per pound in size — that were stocked in 2023 and should be in the 8- to 12-inch range now.

Silent Lake (800 rainbow) and Tarboo Lake (1,658) were planted earlier this month, while Gibbs (non-retention) received 50 large rainbows in February and another 756 smaller trout in March.

Teal Lake also was planted with 312 medium rainbows in March.

Tarboo also had 40 large rainbows planted in February.

Clallam County trout plants occurred in time for Kids’ Fishing Day at Lincoln Park earlier this month (fishing for youth only), and Wentworth Lake near Forks received 4,000 small rainbow and 275 large on April 2.

Saturday also marks the beginning of the state’s 2024 Trout Derby, which will run through Oct. 31.

Anglers will hope to land a tagged rainbow trout and catch a prize from a number of retailers, resorts and other outdoors-related purveyors.

For more information on the derby, visit https://tinyurl.com/PDN-TroutDerby24.

Sandy Shore trash

Sandy Shore Lake, a popular opening day fishing spot near the Hood Canal Bridge, did not receive any trout plants this spring and a gate on the road leading to the lake has been locked.

“According to the signs on the road leading to the lake, on Feb. 1 the lake was closed due to illegal trash dumping, campfires and drug use,” Quilcene’s Ward Norden said. “This Jefferson County lake in a spectacular forest setting was well known for its trout fishing and occasionally very good bass fishing especially in late summer.”

Rayonier purchased much of the land surrounding Sandy Shore when it bought Pope Resources in 2020. Similar behavior out west has led the company to lock gates leading to much of its timber land, cutting off access to spots like Wentworth Lake near Forks.

“What usually happens in a situation like this is that, when an area is closed to the public, illegal trash dumping and other nefarious activities increase with no witnesses being present,” Norden said. “My quick visit [Tuesday] confirmed the suddenly increased dumping. So far Rayonier has closed access to three once-popular fishing lakes in the area, including Ludlow, Horseshoe and now Sandy Shore.”

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