By Michael Foster/WDFW
Spring is an exciting time of year for trout fishing with the lowland lakes opener and the annual statewide Trout Derby starting on April 22, so we’re sharing the rundown of what you need to know to take part in the action, including some basic tips for those just starting out.
Lowland lakes opener
Sharpen your hooks for the annual lowland lakes opener, which is set for April 22 this year. Lakes that aren’t open year-round will open to fishing then to give anglers new and old exciting, family-friendly fishing opportunities. Search for local fishing spots, with information on bank access, what’s in the water, and when it’s biting, here:
Annual statewide Trout Derby
The 2023 Trout Derby officially opens April 22 at more than 100 stocked lakes and runs through Oct. 31. Over 90 participating businesses are offering 872 prizes valued at over $41,500.
The derby is open to anyone with a valid 2023 fishing license, though temporary licenses are not valid for game fish species from April 22 to April 29. There is no entrance fee or registration required. You just catch a tagged trout anytime between April 22 and Oct. 31 and you win. Plus, children age 14 and under fish free.
Visit the derby information page to find a participating lake near you and learn more about how the derby works:
For up-to-date fish stocking information, check the WDFW Catchable Trout Report for weekly updates.
For a look at the full breadth of fishing opportunity, especially if you don’t see your favorite lake listed in the weekly report of larger stocked fish, check the annual Statewide Trout and Kokanee Stocking Plan, which also includes fry plants stocked the year before and meant to grow into catchable size.
Gear and tactics
When it comes to rods, reels, rigs, baits, lures, and tactics, the options are nearly endless and can be overwhelming if you’re new to trout fishing, so check out our “Basic Techniques for Trout Fishing in Washington” video:
This video showcases basic approaches to catching trout in lowland lakes throughout the state. The techniques you’ll learn include the slip-sinker rig for bottom fishing and the slip-bobber rig for fishing at any depth. You’ll also get to know various bait choices and knot tying, giving you what you need to know to be successful and then you can explore other options as you like.
When you’re ready
From there, our Fish Washington playlist on YouTube offers an array of knowledge on trout fishing, from hatchery work to more specific approaches to angling in different seasons and locations. That’s not to mention all the other fishing knowledge offered up on other species in this 68-video playlist.
Bring the kids
Thinking of taking your children trout fishing this year? WDFW has collected tips and tricks from staff biologists on fishing with youngsters to help make your outing a success.
Taking children fishing is a great chance to pass on an important tradition of fun, food, and conservation to your family. Fishing with your kids can be a great way to gain solace and reconnect with the natural world and your family. Even if you’re new to angling, it’s an opportunity to bring your loved ones together to learn a new skill and maybe create a new tradition.
For information on where and when to fish, what to use and how to keep kids engaged in the sport, read our blog on introducing kids to fishing:
If you haven’t already, you can buy your fishing licenses today — from an annual combination fishing license to the Fish Washington package to the Get Outdoors package — by visiting https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov, calling 360-902-2464, or going to a license dealer near you.
Tight lines to you, and we hope you have a safe and successful season fishing Washington!
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