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.”
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.
On the west side of the state, the department is going to add some of these fish to each of the 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 or at hundreds of license dealers across the state.
Anglers who catch one of 1,000 tagged fish can also claim prizes provided by license dealers and other sponsors located across the state. Details on how to claim prizes, visit http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/derby.
Plantings in East County over the past month include:
• LAKE SYLVIA — 1,500 rainbow, including 75 averaging 5 pounds, 325 averaging 4 pounds and 100 averaging 1.5 pounds.
• VANCE CREEK POND (Adult) — 505 rainbows averaging pounds each and 100 rainbow averaging 1.5 pounds each.
• VANCE CREEK POND (Juvenile) 1,400 rainbows with 250 averaging 4 pounds each and 150 averaging 1.5 pounds each.