As many as 300,000 anglers are expected to be out on Washington’s lowland lake-fishing season opener, April 29.
“It’s about six times bigger than any other single sporting event in the state,” said Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife director Jeff Koenings. “Fortunately, we’re not all in one place that day. I wish I could guarantee perfect weather, but I can say there will be plenty of fish to go around. ”
Over 21 million fish have been stocked since last year and are being stocked now in hundreds of waters by WDFW fish hatchery crews.
The opener on the last Saturday of April marks the start of Washington's most intense fishing season. Waters that are open year-round or that opened earlier this spring and have been re-stocked also are part of the game.
Most lowland lakes that open April 29 remain open through October. Unlike high-elevation lakes that are stocked later in the year, many lowland lakes were stocked last spring and fall with 3-inch trout fry that grow to “catchable” size by the opener. Others are receiving catchable-size (8- to 12-inch) trout now. Right before the opener some get a few bigger fish, including sterile triploid rainbow trout capable of growing to trophy size, “jumbo” size (1- 2-pound) rainbows, and surplus hatchery rainbow broodstock up to five pounds each.
Among the fish to be caught this season:
- 6,309,500 rainbow trout fry, now of catchable size, stocked late last year into 532 lakes, including 396 lowland lakes
- 12,342,200 kokanee fry, expected to show in this year's catch, stocked in 38 lakes
- 3,077,700 catchable-size rainbow, cutthroat, brown and eastern brook trout now being stocked in 363 lakes and 17 streams
- 60,703 triploid rainbow trout to be stocked in 95 lakes
- 52,200 jumbo and surplus hatchery broodstock trout to be stocked in 100 lakes.
Fish stocking details, by county and lake, are available in the Hatchery Trout Stocking Plan on WDFW's website.
Of Washington's some 4,500 lakes, ponds and reservoirs, more than 600 have WDFW-managed access sites. Among those sites are 275 access points on lowland lakes that open April 29. These sites include boat launches, dock and shoreline fishing, including areas accessible for persons with disabilities. Other state and federal agencies operate hundreds more such facilities.
“Let’s all be careful out there on this opener and throughout the season,” Koenings said. “I urge everyone to be patient and safe at boat launches and docks. Everyone in boats, and all children on shore, should use personal flotation devices."
Visitors parking at WDFW fishing access sites are required to display a WDFW Vehicle Use permit on their vehicle. Every fishing license buyer receives a free Vehicle Use Permit. The permits are transferable between up to two vehicles. Additional permits are available to recreational license buyers for $5 each and to other users of the areas for $10.
The Washington freshwater fishing license, valid April 1, 2006 through March 31, 2007, costs $21.90 for resident adults (16- 69 years of age). Seniors (70 years and older) and 15-year-olds can buy a fishing license for $5.48. Children 14 years and younger do not need a fishing license. All licenses can be purchased over the Internet, by telephone (1-866-246-9453) or at hundreds of license dealers across the state. A list of retail license dealers is available on the WDFW website.
Fishing spots, listed by county and water, along with this year's fishing prospects, can be found in "Washington Fishing Prospects, Where To Catch Fish In the Evergreen State," available at WDFW offices and on WDFW’s website within the next few days.
Copies of WDFW's annual "Fishing In Washington" sport fishing rules pamphlet are also available at WDFW offices and on the WDFW website.
Anglers should note that some new fishing rules go into effect May 1 and will be highlighted on the “What’s new for 2006” page of the 2006-2007 pamphlet, available later in the month.