For hundreds of thousands of Washington residents, the new year really begins April 28.
That's when several hundred lowland lakes across the state open to fishing. For trout fans, "opening day" marks the start of a new season of memorable catches and time with family and friends.
"This fishing season opener really is like New Year's Day," said Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Director Jeff Koenings. "We manage several kinds of fishing season openers in Washington, but - with over 300,000 men, women and children getting out to our trout-stocked waters on this last Saturday of April - it's the season with by far the greatest participation. And that makes it a real celebration."
The state department of fish and wildlife will stock more than 22 million trout in lakes and streams throughout the state for this year's fishery, including those planted in waters that opened earlier this spring or are open year-round. Most trout will be stocked before the lowland lakes season gets under way the last Saturday of April.
Anglers can look forward to catching more hefty triploid trout this year, thanks to additional funding provided by the state Legislature and approved by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission. The fish and wildlife department expects to plant more than 114,000 of the sterile rainbows in 95 lakes this season, compared to 60,000 last year.
All told, there is an approximate 6,134,000 "catchable size" trout ranging from 8 to 12 inches that were planted last year as fry into 581 lakes, including 122 lowland lakes. A total of 11,828,500 kokanee fry, expected to show in this year's catch, have been stocked in 36 lakes. Also, another 4,057,300 catchable-size rainbow, cutthroat, brown and eastern brook trout are now being stocked in 356 lakes and 15 streams, as well as 38,800 jumbo and surplus hatchery broodstock trout being stocked in 100 lakes.
Of Washington's nearly 4,500 lakes, ponds and reservoirs, more than 600 have department of fish and wildlife-managed access sites. Among those sites are 275 access points on lowland lakes that will be open for fishing from April 28 through October. 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.
"Let's all be careful out there on this big opener and throughout the season," Koenings said. "I urge everyone to be patient and safe at boat launches and docks. Everyone in boats, and all children on shore, should use personal flotation devices."
Visitors parking at department of fish and wildlife fishing access sites are required to display a WDFW Vehicle Use permit on their vehicle. Every person who buys an annual finfish or combination license receives a free Vehicle Use Permit. The permits are transferable between up to two vehicles. Additional permits are available to recreational license buyers for $5 each and to other users of the areas for $10.
The Washington freshwater fishing license, valid April 1, 2007 through March 31, 2008, costs $21.90 for resident adults (16-69 years of age). Fifteen-year-olds can buy a license for $7.67 and seniors (70 years and older) can buy one for $5.48. Children 14 years and younger do not need a fishing license. All licenses can be purchased over the Internet ( https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov/), by telephone (1-866-246-9453), or at hundreds of licensed dealers across the state (listed on the WDFW website at https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov/).
Tips on fishing areas, listed by county and water, can be found in "Washington Fishing Prospects: Where To Catch Fish In the Evergreen State," available for downloading on WDFW's website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/prospects/index.htm.
Copies of WDFW's annual Fishing In Washington sport fishing rules pamphlet are also available from licensed dealers, WDFW offices and on the WDFW website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/fishregs.htm. The currently posted rules are in effect through April 30, 2007; the rules for May 1, 2007 through April 30, 2008 will be posted and available in printed form later this month.
Anglers should note that some new fishing rules go into effect May 1 and will be highlighted on the "What's new for 2007" page of the 2007-2008 pamphlet.