OLYMPIA — This month Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) fish hatchery crews will finish stocking more than 20 million fish in Washington waterways before the state’s single biggest fishing season opener on April 30.
At least 300,000 anglers are expected to turn out for the big day. Although many waterways are open year-round, the last Saturday in April marks the traditional start of the four- to five-month lowland lake fishing season.
“This is the biggest fishing day of the year,” said Phil Anderson, director of WDFW. “Lakes in every county are well-stocked, so fishing families can keep travel costs down by enjoying good angling close to home.”
To participate, anglers will need a current Washington freshwater fishing license, valid April 1, 2011 through March 31, 2012. Licenses can be purchased on the Internet 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/.
Freshwater fishing licenses cost $26 for resident adults 16 to 69 years old. Fifteen-year-olds and persons with disabilities can buy a license for $11, and seniors 70 and older can buy an annual fishing license for $8. Children 14 years of age and younger do not need a fishing license.
“Since kids under 14 fish for free,” Anderson said, “this lake opener is a great way for families to get outdoors together.”
Jim Uehara, WDFW inland fish program manager, says this is the time when fish hatchery crews are out stocking all lakes and waterways, but especially those several hundred that open April 30. Among the fish stocked by WDFW crews are:
- 50,000 triploid (sterile) trout averaging 1-1/2 pounds apiece, stocked in 108 lakes
- 84,000 two-year-old "jumbo" and surplus hatchery broodstock trout (1-1/2 to 5 pounds each), stocked in 172 lakes
- 6.8 million trout, planted in 474 lakes last year as fry, now 8- to 12-inch catchable size
- 10.2 million kokanee fry stocked in 34 lakes
- 3.5 million catchable-size trout stocked this spring in 347 waters
- 200,000 other fish species – including walleye, tiger muskie and bass – stocked in 12 waters
Fish stocking details, by county and lake, are available in the Annual Statewide Hatchery Trout Stocking Plan on WDFW's website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/plants/statewide/.
Of Washington’s nearly 4,500 lakes, ponds and reservoirs, more than 600 have WDFW-managed water-access sites. These sites include boat launches, docks and shorelines, including areas accessible for people with disabilities. Other state and federal agencies operate hundreds more such facilities.
Water access site locations can be found on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/lands/water_access/. These sites include approximately 275 access areas on lakes open for fishing from April 30 through September or October.
"With our biggest fishing crowds out on this opener, it’s especially important for everyone to be patient and safe at these boat launches and docks," Uehara said. "Everyone in boats, and all children on shore, should use personal flotation devices."
Visitors parking at WDFW water-access sites are required to display a WDFW vehicle use permit on their car or truck. Every person who buys an annual fishing license receives a free vehicle use permit. The permits are transferable between two vehicles. Additional permits are available to recreational license buyers for $6 each and to other users of the areas for $12.
Tips on fishing areas, listed by county and water, can be found in "Washington 2011 Fishing Prospects: Where To Catch Fish In the Evergreen State," available on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/prospects/.
Copies of WDFW's annual "Fishing In Washington" sport fishing rules pamphlet are also available from license dealers, WDFW offices and on the WDFW website (http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/) under Regulations & Seasons. Current rules are in effect through April 30, 2011; rules for May 1, 2011 through April 30, 2012 will be posted and available in printed form by May 1.
New fishing rules that go into effect on May 1 will be highlighted on the "What’s new for 2011" page of WDFW’s 2011-2012 sport fishing seasons and rules pamphlet.