OLYMPIA – The Washington trout season begins in earnest Saturday, April 23, when hundreds of lakes stocked with catchable trout open for business and the 2022 statewide trout derby kicks off.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) stocks lakes throughout the year, and while many lakes are open for fishing year-round, the annual opening day offers an opportunity for anglers to fish on thousands of trout planted over the winter and spring.
To participate in the opener and the derby, Washington anglers must have an annual freshwater, combination, or Fish Washington fishing license valid through March 31, 2023. WDFW reminds anglers that temporary combination fishing licenses cannot be used from April 23 through April 30, 2022, for game fish; except active-duty military personnel serving in any branch of the United States armed forces. Licenses can be purchased online; by telephone at 1-866-246-9453; or at hundreds of license dealers across the state.
“Opening day is truly a statewide celebration,” said Steve Caromile, Inland Fish Program manager with WDFW. “It’s a great opportunity to get back out on the water after a long winter, to spend time with friends and loved ones, bring home a healthy meal, and even possibly win some prizes.”
Those prizes come from the annual statewide trout derby, where anglers can catch tagged trout in lakes across Washington, each of which comes with a prize. There are more than 800 prizes available in 2022, with a total value of more than $37,000. The derby runs through Oct. 31. Visit the derby website to see lakes containing tagged fish.
Over 16 million trout and kokanee were planted across Washington in the past year. Opening-day lakes are often stocked in the days prior to the start of their six-month season; visit WDFW’s website to see which lakes have been stocked in recent weeks, as well as sort by county or waterbody to find a stocked lake near you.
As always, please be respectful of fellow anglers and other recreationists, obey posted signage at lakes and parking areas, and have a backup plan in case your preferred destination appears too crowded.
There are more than 7,000 lakes, ponds and reservoirs in Washington, and hundreds of WDFW-managed water-access areas, including some with areas accessible for people with disabilities. Other state and federal agencies operate hundreds more. Details on water access area locations can be found on WDFW’s website.
Anglers parking at WDFW vehicle water-access areas are required to display the WDFW Vehicle Access Pass – provided when you purchase eligible annual fishing licenses – or a Discover Pass. Anglers visiting Washington State Parks or Department of Natural Resources lands need a Discover Pass. Information on parking passes can be found at WDFW’s website.
WDFW employees and their immediate families are not eligible to claim fishing derby prizes.