EVERETT — It’s open season on Washington’s waterways once again. Fish beware.
Saturday marked the beginning of trout angling season across the state and the fish are chomping at the bait.
More than 16 million trout and kokanee were added to lakes and streams during the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s year-round stocking.
This month alone, tens of thousands of rainbow trout were supplied to Snohomish County. From the small haunts to the well-known spots, more information on the local stocking schedule can be found at wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/reports/stocking.
“Any opening day lake is a good hot spot,” said Justin Spinelli, a regional fish biologist for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife. He added that Wagner Lake outside of Monroe and Howard Lake past Index both fished particularly well to start the season.
Despite inauspicious weather, Spinelli said anglers reported a successful opening weekend. Folks were happy to be back on the water and catch rates were higher this year than in the past.
“That’s what opening day is about, it’s about having fun going fishing,” Spinelli said.
Open to anyone with a valid 2021 fishing license, the contest requires no entry fee or registration. Anglers who catch orange-tagged trout in lakes across Washington can win one of the more than 1,000 prizes, from 70 participating businesses with a total value of more than $38,000.
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“It’s a partnership between folks who sell fishing licenses and the state to get more people out fishing and give them excuses to visit some of these sporting goods stores,” Spinelli said. “We want people to enjoy it, we want people to connect with nature.”
Until October 31, fishing enthusiasts can collect the orange tags attached to the trout’s fin, enter the tag number and details on the state’s online form and reap the derby rewards. On average, Spinelli said 50% to 70% of tagged fish are caught each year.
In Snohomish County, the lakes with tagged trout are Lake Ballinger, Bosworth Lake, Lake Ki, Martha Lake, Riley Lake, Silver Lake and Storm Lake.
Deer Lake in Island County, as well as Lake Erie, Lake McMurray and Sixteen Lake in Skagit County, also have tagged trout. A full list of participating lakes is available at wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/contests/trout-derby/lakes.
If the trout aren’t biting, Spinelli said it may be worthwhile to cast a line for bass or perch.
“Make sure you have that tackle onboard, just in case,” he said. “It expands our horizons a little bit and is a chance to enjoy the resources that we’ve got.”
Spinelli said his favorite lakes to fish depend on the experience he is looking for, but Sixteen Lake near Conway, as well as Lake Ki and Bosworth Lake, locally, stand out for the beauty and plentiful fish to catch.
The Department of Fish and Wildlife is asking all anglers to fish responsibly in the pandemic by practicing social distancing, wearing masks and having a backup plan if their preferred fishing hole is too crowded.
Catch of the Day
Trout marked with orange tags have been stocked in Washington lakes, offering prizes valued at $38,000. For a list of lakes with prize fish and information on how to claim a prize, visit wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/contests/trout-derby.
Buying a license
Those ages 15 and older need to buy an annual fishing license. You can get one online at fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov, by telephone at 1-866-246-9453 or at dealers around the state. Look for venders at wdfw.wa.gov/licenses/dealers.
Ian Davis-Leonard: 425-339-3448; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @IanDavisLeonard.