OLYMPIA – The statewide trout fishing season heats up beginning April 24, when hundreds of lakes throughout Washington open for business and the annual statewide trout derby kicks off for 2021.
“Many lakes throughout Washington are open for trout year-round, but opening day is a major event that brings people out to fish from all over the state,” said Steve Caromile, Inland Fish Program manager with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).
Opening day also marks the beginning of the annual statewide trout derby, where anglers can win prizes by catching tagged trout in lakes across Washington. There are more than 1,000 prizes available in 2021, with a total value of more than $38,000. The derby runs through Oct. 31.
WDFW stocks lakes year-round with a variety of species, including over 16 million trout and kokanee in the past year. Opening-day lakes are often stocked in the days prior to the opening of their six-month season; to see where lakes have been recently stocked, or when lakes in your area may be stocked throughout the year, visit WDFW’s website.
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, 2022. Licenses can be purchased online; by telephone at 1-866-246-9453; or at hundreds of license dealers across the state.
WDFW asks all anglers to follow responsible recreation guidelines by practicing social distancing, wearing masks, and having a backup plan if their preferred destination appears too crowded. Give people space at boat ramps, parking areas, and other shared public spaces.
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 – free when you purchase an annual fishing license – or a Discover Pass. Anglers visiting Washington State Parks or Department of Natural Resources lands need a Discover Pass. Information on the pass can be found at WDFW’s online licensing website.
WDFW employees and their immediate families are not eligible to claim fishing derby prizes.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife works to preserve, protect and perpetuate fish, wildlife and ecosystems while providing sustainable fish, wildlife, and recreational and commercial opportunities.