This is the time of year when new fishing opportunities start popping open like daffodils in the afternoon sun. Shrimp and lingcod in Puget Sound. Halibut there and off the Washington coast. Spring chinook salmon on the Chehalis and Yakima rivers.
But none of those fisheries draw bigger crowds than the lowland lakes trout-fishing season, which opened April 28 statewide. In preparation for opening day, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) planted millions of trout, ranging from 11-inch "catchables" to 11-pound jumbos.
"The weather was good, and so was the fishing," said Chris Donley, WDFW's inland fish manager. "We saw a lot of limits taken at lakes throughout the state."
But opening day is just one day of many in the state's trout season, Donley said. Now the tanker trucks are rolling again, delivering more fish to Washington lakes.
"We stock lakes with trout for the whole season, not just opening day," Donley said. "Trout fishing should be highly productive in lowland lakes through June, and then again in September. In higher-elevation lakes, fishing should be good right through the summer."
For most anglers, a valid 2012-13 fishing license is required to fish in Washington state. The exception is young people under age 15, who 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 is available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/licensing/vendors/ and from local WDFW offices.
Key dates for fisheries opening in May include:
- May 1 - Lingcod fishing opens in Puget Sound. Also spring chinook fishing opens on the Chehalis River.
- May 3 - Halibut fishing opens in Marine Areas 6-10 in Puget Sound. Halibut fishing also opens in Marine Area 1 off the south coast (Ilwaco).
- May 5-7 - Last razor-clam dig of the season, at Twin Harbors only.
- May 5 - Shrimp fishing opens in areas of Puget Sound.
- May 6 - Halibut fishing opens in Marine Area 2 off the south coast (Westport and Ocean Shores)
- May 10 - Halibut fishing opens in marine areas 3 and 4 off the north coast (La Push/Neah Bay).
- May 24 - Halibut fishing opens in Marine Area 5 (Sekiu/Pillar Point)
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.