Fish on through December for trout and more

WDFW-stocked lakes likely still holding fish

With the holiday season rolling along, hardy anglers can still take advantage of WDFW’s trout-stocking program, not to mention other opportunities in freshwater and saltwater as fall transitions to winter.

The WDFW stocked 24 lakes statewide with over 140,000 rainbow trout in November, and holdovers from that effort just add to what is already a great month to fish in Washington.

The “holiday specials” that were stocked around Black Friday included thousands of large trout averaging 15 to 16 inches in length and weighing up to three pounds.

The lakes listed were stocked for Black Friday Fishing.

These lakes joined dozens of others around the state that were stocked in October with tens of thousands of trout. A number of other lakes stocked earlier this year also opened for fishing on Black Friday. Many other lakes still boast excellent trout fishing as a result of stocking earlier in the year.

WDFW encourages anglers to recreate responsibly amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic in Washington by following social distancing guidelines and spreading out their visits to avoid overcrowding at popular lakes.

“The holiday season is more than just Black Friday, and all these fish won’t be caught in one day,” said Steve Caromile, inland fish program manager with WDFW. “Anglers should have a plan B if their preferred destination appears too busy or be prepared to come back another time. We want everyone to stay safe and healthy while still getting to catch some trout.”

For up-to-date stocking information, anglers should follow the department’s weekly catchable trout stocking report, where they can find reports on stocking that has taken place within the last 30 days and throughout the year.

Fishing licenses can be purchased by telephone at 360-902-2464, online at fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov, or at hundreds of license dealers across the state. Visit wdfw.wa.gov/licenses/dealers to find a license dealer near you.

Tight lines to you and yours this holiday season!

Not just about trout

While we’re highlighting the holiday season trout-fishing opportunity, December is also a great month to fish for plenty of other reasons.

Though the opportunities are several this month, perhaps the most iconic is the pursuit of hatchery steelhead in coastal rivers. Thanksgiving is the traditional kick-off to hatchery steelhead season, and the action can run right through to Christmas and even a little later on some streams. Remember to release all wild steelhead without removing them from the water as they’ll start appearing more frequently as the winter wears on.

While salmon retention is closed on many rivers this month, some waterways allow retention of chum salmon through Dec. 15.

To check what rivers near you are open to fishing and for which species, see the Washington Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet.

Sharing a moment with a beautiful native steelhead before it was released to continue on with her journey. (2016 Ryan Masuda)

Just a start

The information here is just a sampling of the recreational opportunities available on rivers and saltwater this month. Head over to wdfw.wa.gov and read up on what else you can get your feet wet with in December.