OLYMPIA–Trout stocking crews are working to plant fish throughout the state in preparation for April 22, when several hundred lowland lakes open for a six-month fishing season.
Although many lakes are open year-round, the fourth Saturday in April marks the traditional start of the lowland lakes fishing season, when hundreds of thousands of anglers are expected to turn out to fish.
WDFW fish hatchery crews have been stocking more than 16 million trout and kokanee in lakes statewide. Those fish include 2.3 million catchable trout, nearly 150,000 larger trout averaging about one pound apiece, and millions of smaller trout that were stocked last year and have grown to catchable size.
At this point, we are about half finished with the stocking effort, said Steve Thiesfeld, WDFW inland fish program manager. "We are working hard to have it all done in time for opening weekend," he said.
Many of the triploid trout are coming in at about a pound, but there are several thousand that are three pounds or more, said Thiesfeld. "These are all high quality fish that are significantly larger than our regular catchable trout, and those three pounders are outstanding fish," he said.
A lot of the larger fish are destined for lakes on the eastern side of the state, ensuring great fishing in perennial hotspots like Loon, Jameson, and North Fio Rito lakes, he said.
On the westside, the department is going to add some of these fish to each of our regular plants in lakes that haven't been stocked yet, said Thiesfeld. "We expect these larger fish are going to make some kids very happy."
To participate on opening day, Washington anglers must have an annual freshwater or combination fishing license valid through March 31, 2018. Licenses can be purchased online at https://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 http://wdfw.wa.gov/licensing/vendors/
Anglers who catch one of 1,000 tagged fish can also claim prizes provided by license dealers and other sponsors located across the state. The total value of prizes is more than $25,000. For a list of lakes with prize fish and details on how to claim prizes, visit http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/derby/
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/
Before heading out, anglers should check fishing regulations on WDFW's webpage at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/. With snow and ice still present in some parts of the state, anglers should also check ahead of time to be sure their preferred lake is accessible.
WDFW employees and their immediate families are not eligible to claim fishing derby prizes.