OLYMPIA - Washington's biggest fishing day of the year - the lowland lakes trout opener - is Saturday, April 26, and state fish hatchery crews are getting ready by releasing millions of catchable fish in lakes across the state.
For this year's fishing season, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) plans to plant nearly 16.5 million trout and kokanee in hundreds of lakes on both sides of the Cascades.
Those fish include 2.3 million catchable trout, nearly 115,000 jumbo trout weighing up to 11 pounds apiece, and more than 50,000 triploid trout averaging 1½ pounds each. Millions of carry-over trout that were stocked last year and have grown to catchable size will also be available in lakes throughout the state.
Crews began this year's stocking program in March and will continue through June. All opening day lakes will be stocked prior to the opener on April 26.
To put this in perspective, if the catchable trout being released were laid end to end, they would stretch from Westport to Spokane.
"With this many fish planted, families should enjoy a great fishing season all across the state, so come on out and fish Washington!" said Chris Donley, WDFW inland fish program manager.
Donley reminds anglers to make sure they have a current Washington freshwater fishing license, valid through March 31, 2015. Licenses can be purchased online at https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov; by telephone at 1-866-246-9453; or from about 700 license dealers across the state. For license vendor locations, visit the WDFW website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/licensing/vendors/.
Freshwater fishing licenses cost $29.50 for resident adults 16 to 69 years old. Fifteen-year-olds can buy a license for $8.05, and seniors 70 and older can buy an annual freshwater fishing license for $7.50. Children 14 years of age and younger do not need a fishing license.
The department's Fish Washington website, available from the department's homepage wdfw.wa.gov, provides the when's, where's and how-to's of fishing throughout the state. The fishing regulations described in 2013-2014 Washington state rule pamphlet will be in effect on all waters though April 30.
Fish stocking details, by county and lake, are available in the annual stocking plan on WDFW's website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/plants/statewide/.