Larger trout await anglers on state’s biggest opening day

April 27, 2012

By Staff

NEW — 6 a.m. April 27, 2012

Anglers preparing for opening day of the 2012 lowland lakes season Saturday can expect to reel in trout that are one-third larger, according to the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The department is releasing 3 million hatchery-reared trout averaging 11-13 inches — 1 to 3 inches longer than last year.

Those fish will join millions of other trout that were stocked last year and have grown to catchable size in lakes around the state. Many of those lakes have also been stocked with triploid and jumbo trout weighing 1½ to 11 pounds apiece.

“We have made some changes in our trout hatchery rearing programs in response to the feedback we heard from anglers who really enjoy catching larger fish,” department Director Phil Anderson said in a press release. “With these fish, our state’s biggest fishing day of the year just got better.”

At least 300,000 anglers typically turn out for the first day of the lowland lakes season, which remains open into the fall. Although many state waters are open year-round, the April opening marks the start of the state’s most popular fishery.

To participate, anglers must have a current Washington freshwater fishing license valid through March 31, 2013. Licenses can be purchased online at; by telephone at 1-866-246-9453 toll free; or at hundreds of license dealers across the state. Get details about license vendor locations at

Freshwater fishing licenses cost $27.50 for resident adults ages 16-69; 15-year-olds can buy a license for $8.25, and seniors 70 and older can buy an annual fishing license for $5.50. Children 14 and younger do not need a fishing license.

“Our license fees are lower this year for youth, seniors and people with disabilities,” Anderson said. “So, whether you fish from the bank, a pram or a boat, this fishery is tailor-made for a great family outing.”

Because of the popularity of trout fishing in Washington, the department put a higher priority on its trout-rearing program in the past year, said Chris Donley, the department’s Inland Fish Program manager.

“For one thing, we invested in more hatchery feed to grow our fish larger,” he said. “We hope anglers see the increase in the quality of our catchable trout on opening day.”

Hatchery crews also spent the past year stocking lakes across the state with more than 10 million fry and fingerlings, which have grown to eight to 12 inches in length. Anglers can also look forward to catching other fish stocked for the lowland lakes season:

  • 102,000 2-year-old “jumbo” and surplus hatchery broodstock trout (1½ to 11 pounds each)
  • More than 100,000 other fish — black crappie, channel catfish, tiger muskie, walleye
  • 47,000 triploid (sterile) trout averaging 1½ pounds apiece

Fish stocking details, by county and lake, are available in the annual stocking plan on the department’s website at

“With all of these fish ready and waiting in statewide lakes, everyone has an excellent chance of catching some nice fish,” Donley said. “Come on out and join the fun of opening day.”

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