OLYMPIA — Trout fishing in Washington reaches full speed April 23, when several hundred lowland lakes — stocked with millions of fish — open for a six-month season.
That date also marks the start of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s first lowland lake fishing derby, which runs through Sept. 6.
To participate on opening weekend, Washington anglers must have an annual freshwater or combination fishing license valid through March 31, 2017. Licenses can be purchased online at fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov; by telephone at 1-866-246-9453; or at hundreds of license dealers across the state. For details on license vendor locations, visit the WDFW website at wdfw.wa.gov/licensing/vendors/.
Anglers who catch one of more than 700 tagged fish can also claim prizes provided by license dealers located across the state.
For a list of lakes with prize fish and details on how to claim prizes, visit wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/derby. In Pacific County, Black Lake in Ilwaco and Cases Pond in Raymond are included.
“Although many lakes are open year-round, the fourth Saturday in April marks the traditional start of the lowland lakes fishing season, and hundreds of thousands of anglers are expected to turn out for the big day,” said Larry Phillips, WDFW inland fish program manager.
WDFW fish hatchery crews have been stocking more than 15 million trout and kokanee in lakes statewide. Those fish include 3.8 million catchable trout, nearly 370,000 larger trout averaging about one pound apiece, and millions of smaller trout that were stocked last year and have grown to catchable size.
Fish stocking details, by county and lake, are available in the annual stocking plan on WDFW’s website at wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/plants/statewide/. On March 29, for example, rainbow trout were planted in Western and Snag lakes — often collectively known as the Radar Lakes — near Naselle.
“Opening weekend is an excellent time to get out there and enjoy Washington’s lakes,” said Phillips. “Once again we planted some larger fish this year, and now and again, lucky lowland lake anglers will hook into a prize fish.”
Phillips encourages anglers to check the “Fish Washington” feature at the department’s homepage (wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/washington) for details on lake fishing opportunities. The map-based webpage includes fishing information by county, lake and fish species throughout the state.
For those who want more fishing advice, Phillips recommends “how to” fishing videos available at the department’s webpage (wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/washington/videos).
For those planning fishing vacations this spring or summer, Phillips recommends Great Washington Getaways (wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/vacation), another WDFW homepage feature that showcases some of the state’s best family travel and fishing opportunities.
Of more than 7,000 lakes, ponds and reservoirs in Washington, nearly 700 have WDFW-managed water-access sites, including areas accessible for people with disabilities. Other state and federal agencies operate hundreds more.
Details on water access site locations can be found on WDFW’s website at wdfw.wa.gov/lands/water_access/.
Anglers parking at WDFW water-access sites are required to display on their vehicle the WDFW Vehicle Access Pass that is provided free with every annual fishing license purchased. The passes are transferable between two vehicles.
Anglers who use Washington State Parks or Department of Natural Resource areas need a Discover Pass. Information on the pass can be found at discoverpass.wa.gov/.
Before heading out, anglers should check fishing regulations on WDFW’s webpage at wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/.