April 13, 2000
Contact: Jim Uehara, 360-902-2738
Madonna Luers, 509-456-4073
Biggest sporting event in Washington begins April 29,2000
Up to half a million people are expected to participate in the biggest sporting event in Washington on Saturday, April 29 -- the opening of lake fishing season.
If anglers are lucky more than 14 million fish will participate too.
"This is easily the largest single sporting event in Washington, possibly in the Pacific Northwest," said Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) director Jeff Koenings. "Washington has a long and strong tradition of sport fishing, and with hatchery fish stocking, opportunities still abound in our 4,500 lowland lakes and reservoirs."
WDFW fish hatchery crews have been busy since last spring stocking hundreds of waterways with:
- 11.1 million trout fry, most of which will be catchable size by this spring
- 2.7 million "catchable size" trout, ranging from eight-inchers to surplus hatchery broodstock
- 570,000 warmwater fish species like walleye and bass
- 44,000 trophy rainbow trout
The fish are being planted in many of Washington's fishing waters that are open year-round, or that opened March 1 in the Columbia Basin and the southeast. But the bulk of the catchable trout stocking is scheduled just before the lake fishing season opener, which signals the traditional start of Washington's most intense fishing activity.
In past years, opening-day checks have indicated that as many as half a million people are out looking for a bite that weekend alone.
"This last weekend of April always brings out the fishing spirit in even the most casual anglers," Koenings noted. "Even our year-round or earlier-opening waters get much greater pressure then. It's a tradition, especially for families. It's also the best time to catch fish."
Koenings explained that trout fishing, especially for rainbows in lowland lakes, is usually best in spring when water temperatures are low. Local favorite fishing holes are often smaller waters that produce best early in the season when water is colder, compared to larger, deeper lakes that can be good for trout all year. Hatchery stocked trout also tend to remain in the top three to five feet of water for up to a week after stocking, so opening day anglers of all ages are successful in catching them with bait hook-ups or shallow-trolling small lures.
WDFW angler surveys have consistently shown that trout are preferred by more people across the state, and trout fishing is best early in the season. Warmwater species like bass, crappie, and catfish become better targets as water temperatures rise later in the year.
"For all these reasons, opening day of fishing season can be very crowded at some lakes, especially where we operate public boat launches, " Koenings said. "I urge everyone to be patient, courteous, and careful out there. That water is cold, so remember to use personal flotation devices for everyone in boats and for children on shore."
Resident anglers 16 years of age and older must have a valid freshwater fishing license, available for $20 at hundreds of license dealers across the state and all WDFW offices. All resident and non-resident children 14 years of age and under fish free; 15-year-olds fish on a $5 license.
Every fishing license buyer receives a free "Access Stewardship Decal" which must be on any motor vehicle parked in a WDFW fishing access parking lot.
Copies of WDFW's annual Sport Fishing Rules Pamphlet, Hatchery Trout Stocking Plan and Washington Fishing Guide ("Where To Catch Fish In the Evergreen State") are available on the agency's Internet website, at WDFW Regional Offices and at WDFW offices in Wenatchee (509-662-0452), and Olympia (360-902-2700).
Lakes with public access that have been well-stocked and offer good opening day fishing opportunities include, by county:
- Adams: Half-Moon Lake (south of Potholes Reservoir)
- Asotin: Headgate Pond (juveniles and seniors only; near Asotin Creek)
- Benton: Columbia Park Lagoon (juveniles and families only; in Kennewick)
- Chelan: Fish Lake (16 miles north of Leavenworth)
- Clallam: Sutherland Lake (10 miles southwest of Port Angeles)
- Clark: Battle Ground Lake (northwest of BattleGround), Klineline Pond (north of Hazel Dell)
- Columbia: Beaver Lake, Watson Lake (Tucannon River impoundments)
- Cowlitz: Kress Lake (3 miles north of Kalama)
- Douglas: Jameson Lake (8 miles south of Mansfield)
- Ferry: Ellen Lake (14 miles north of Inchelium)
- Franklin: Dalton Lake (5 miles northeast of Ice Harbor Dam)
- Grant: Blue Lake and Park Lake (north of town of Soap Lake)
- Grays Harbor: Aberdeen Lake (Aberdeen city park), Failor Lake (9 miles north of Hoquiam)
- Island: Deer Lake, Goss Lake (Whidbey Island)
- Jefferson: Anderson Lake (west of Chimacum)
- King: North Lake (3 miles west of Auburn), Pine Lake (4 miles north of Issaquah), Steel Lake (west of Auburn)
- Kitsap: Kitsap Lake (just outside Bremerton)
- Kittitas: Fio Rito lakes (4 miles southeast of Ellensburg)
- Klickitat: Northwestern Reservoir (on White Salmon River)
- Lewis: Mineral Lake (12 miles north of Morton)
- Lincoln: Fishtrap Lake (6.5 miles east of Sprague)
- Mason: Spencer Lake (7 miles northeast of Shelton)
- Okanogan: Alta Lake (southwest of Pateros), Pearrygin Lake (Methow Wildlife Area), Spectacle Lake (9 miles northwest of Tonasket)
- Pacific: Black Lake (near Ilwaco), Radar Hill Ponds (4 miles north of Naselle)
- Pend Oreille: Davis Lake (5 miles south of Usk), Sacheen Lake (11 miles southwest of Newport)
- Pierce: Tanwax Lake, (5.5 miles north of Eatonville) Silver Lake (4.5 miles west of Eatonville)
- San Juan: Cascade Lake (Orcas Island)
- Skagit: Erie Lake (4 miles south of Anacortes), McMurray Lake (9 miles northwest of Arlington), Heart Lake (2.5 miles south of Anacortes)
- Skamania: Tunnel Lake (along Highway 14 between Drano Lake and Underwood)
- Snohomish: Ki Lake (8 miles northwest of Marysville)
- Spokane: Badger Lake (12 miles south of Cheney), West Medical Lake (west of town of Medical Lake), Newman Lake (14 miles east of Spokane), Liberty Lake (at town of Liberty Lake)
- Stevens: Waitts Lake (4 miles west of Valley on U.S. Highway 395)
- Thurston: McIntosh Lake (between Rainier and Tenino), Hicks Lake (near Lacey)
- Walla Walla: Bennington Lake (near city of Walla Walla)
- Whatcom: Padden Lake (in Bellingham), Silver Lake (3 miles north of Maple Falls)
- Whitman: Rock Lake (1 mile north of Ewan)
- Yakima: Myron Lake (in Yakima), I-82 ponds #4 and #6, Rotary Lake (in Yakima along Greenway Trail)