The latest in fish and wildlife recreational opportunities across Washington State
Statewide lake fishing opens April 27, capping off a month of outdoor fun.
For many anglers, “opening day” is synonymous with the start of the lowland lakes trout-fishing season, which gets under way April 27 this year. Hundreds of thousands of Washingtonians typically descend on trout-stocked lakes to kick off the state’s biggest outdoor event.
To prepare for the upcoming season, hatchery crews from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) have been working since last year to stock more than 17 million fish in over 600 lakes throughout the state. Anglers can find how many went where at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/plants/statewide/.
But anglers – and hunters, too – are also looking forward to a variety of other “opening days” this month for seasons ranging from razor clam digs on ocean beaches to turkey hunting throughout the state. Many communities throughout the state are also hosting festivals this month to mark major bird migrations including sandhill cranes, waterfowl and shorebirds.
“April really marks the start of the new year for fishing, hunting, and a wide range of outdoor activities,” said Joe Stohr, WDFW deputy director. “The annual cycle is beginning again and a lot of us are glad to see it arrive.”
For most people, a valid 2013-14 fishing or hunting license will be required to participate in those activities after March 31, when all 2012-13 licenses expire. The exception is young people under age 15, who may fish for free.
Licenses and permits are avaiIable online (https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov/), by phone (1-866-246-9453) and from sporting goods stores and other retail license dealers around the state. A list of license vendors (http://wdfw.wa.gov/licensing/vendors/) is available online and from local WDFW offices around the state.
Key dates to keep in mind in April include:
April 1 – Several dozen lakes in the Columbia Basin open to fishing
April 5-7 – Othello Sandhill Crane Festival, based in Othello in Adams County; for more information see http://www.othellosandhillcranefestival.org/.
April 6-7 – A two-day spring turkey hunt for hunters age 15 and younger is scheduled statewide.
April 9-14 – A six-day morning razor clam dig is tentatively scheduled on various ocean beaches. For details, see WDFW’s razor clam webpage at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/razorclams/current.html.
April 15 – The general spring turkey hunt opens for hunters of all ages and runs through May 31. See WDFW's Washington Wild Turkey Spring Season pamphlet at http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/regulations/ for more information.
April 24-30 – The month’s second morning razor clam dig is tentatively scheduled on various ocean beaches. For details, see WDFW’s razor clam webpage at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/razorclams/current.html.
April 26-28 – The Grays Harbor Shorebird Festival, based in Hoquiam, celebrates shorebirds. For information, see http://www.shorebirdfestival.com/.
April 27 – Hundreds of lakes open to trout fishing across the state for the biggest “opening day” of the year.
For more information about these and other outdoor activities coming up in the weeks ahead, see the region-by-region Weekender Reports on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/weekender/. These reports are updated throughout the month for changes in fishing rules and other developments throughout the state.
(Asotin, Columbia, Ferry, Garfield, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Spokane, Stevens, Walla Walla and Whitman counties)
Fishing: Some of the region’s best trout fishing will begin at the end of the month with the lowland lakes season opener on April 27.
“Some of those waters that open April 27 around Spokane that are well-stocked and where fish grow well include Williams, West Medical, Fishtrap, and Clear,” said Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) central district fish biologist Randy Osborne in Spokane. “One that we rehabilitated last year that should be very good this season is Fish Lake near Cheney.”
Bill Baker, WDFW northeast district fish biologist, said many trout lakes in Ferry, Stevens, and Pend Oreille counties that open on April 27 are traditionally good bets. Those include Stevens County’s Waitts, Cedar, Rocky and Starvation lakes; Ferry County’s Ellen and Davis lakes; and Pend Oreille County’s Diamond, Marshall and Sacheen lakes.
But there’s plenty of good fishing to be had until then, too.
The daily bag limit for walleye doubles to 16 fish beginning April 1 on Lake Roosevelt, the lower San Poil River, and the lower Spokane River from the mouth at Hwy. 25 bridge upstream to 400 feet below Little Falls Dam. For details check the emergency fishing rule change.
Meanwhile, catch-and-release fishing for both rainbow and cutthroat trout at Amber Lake in southwest Spokane County has been good. Amber is under selective gear rules and shifts to a catch-and-keep season on April 27 when the daily limit will be two trout of at least 14 inches. Rainbows with clipped adipose fins caught at Amber must be released even after April 27.
Coffeepot Lake in Lincoln County is producing rainbow trout, mostly on flies. Coffeepot is under selective gear rules (no bait, artificial flies and lures only, knotless nets), a minimum size limit of 18 inches and daily catch limit of one trout.
Liberty Lake, in eastern Spokane County, is a good bet for brown trout and, as the water warms, yellow perch and crappie.
Downs Lake in southwest Spokane County receives hatchery “catchable-size” rainbow trout, but it should also fish well this month for largemouth bass. Downs also has yellow perch and crappie.
Medical Lake, near the town of the same name in southwest Spokane County, has brown and rainbow trout.
Deer Lake in southern Stevens County, which opened March 1, is finally warming up and likely producing some catches of rainbow and lake trout, with bass, crappie, perch catches not far behind.
Rock Lake, open year-round in Whitman County, is consistently a good spot for brown and rainbow trout. Another year-round trout fishery that provides a secluded and productive experience for anglers willing to walk a mile, is Z-Lake on the Swanson Lakes Wildlife Area in Lincoln County.
In the south end of the region, anglers fishing the Tucannon River impoundments on WDFW’s Wooten Wildlife Area have been catching nice rainbow trout. Area manager Kari Dingman said Big Four, Blue, Deer, Rainbow, Spring and Watson lakes are all well-stocked with hatchery trout and warming up.
Anglers are reminded that all fishing rules in the 2012-2013 regulations pamphlet apply throughout the month of April. New rules take effect May 1, 2013, and will be available in pamphlets online and at license dealers later this month.
Anglers are also reminded that all 2012-2013 Washington state fishing licenses expire at midnight March 31. To keep fishing, anglers over 15 years of age must purchase a 2013-14 license. Licenses and permits are avaiIable online, by phone (1-866-246-9453) and from sporting goods stores and other retail license dealers around the state.
April 19 is the deadline for registration for the May 4 Kids’ Fishing Event at Clear Lake in Spokane County. For details on the registration form, see the Youth Fishing 2013 Event Calendar.