Annual trout derby kicks off, lakes open statewide April 22
by WA Department of Fish & Wildlife Staff
OLYMPIA – The lakes are stocked. The fish are tagged. And, on Saturday, April 22, anglers can enjoy the thrill of catching trout when hundreds of lakes open across Washington, and the 2023 statewide trout derby officially kicks off.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) stocks trout in lakes throughout the year, and opening day marks the first time many of those lakes can be fished for the thousands of catchable trout planted every winter and spring.
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, 2024. WDFW reminds anglers that temporary combination fishing licenses cannot be used from April 22 through April 29, 2023, for game fish; except active-duty military personnel serving in any branch of the United States armed forces. Licenses can be bought online; by phone at 866-246-9453; or at hundreds of license dealers across the state.
"Opening day is the result of a huge annual effort to provide fishing at lakes throughout the state, for people of all ages and backgrounds," said Steve Caromile, Inland Fish Program manager with WDFW. "Our fish and hatchery staff work tirelessly throughout the year to offer accessible fishing in diverse settings across Washington, and the trout derby means you might even win a prize while doing it."
This year, the annual statewide trout derby boasts more than 800 prizes worth more than $40,000, which anglers can claim by catching tagged trout in lakes across Washington. More than 100 lakes will feature prize fish in 2023. The derby runs through Oct. 31. Visit the derby website to see lakes containing tagged fish.
More than 16 million trout and kokanee were planted statewide in the past year. Opening-day lakes are often stocked shortly before the start of their six-month season; visit WDFW's website to see which lakes have been stocked in recent weeks. You can also sort by county or waterbody to find a stocked lake near you.
As always, please be respectful of fellow anglers and other recreationists, obey posted signage at all water access areas, obey all parking regulations and have a backup plan in case your preferred destination is overcrowded.
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 areas can be found on WDFW's website.
Anglers parking at WDFW vehicle water-access areas are required to display the WDFW Vehicle Access Pass – provided when you buy eligible annual fishing licenses – or a Discover Pass. Anglers visiting Washington State Parks or Department of Natural Resources lands need a Discover Pass. Information on parking passes can be found at WDFW's website.
Before heading out, anglers should also check WDFW's fishing regulations webpage for permanent regulations and emergency rules webpage for rule updates affecting fisheries.
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.
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