The new fishing season has gotten an early start to bait anglers for what hopes to be a promising season. The head start is largely for juveniles, but what interests the kids interests everyone.
The first matter of business that needs to be taken care of is the acquisition of a current fishing license. The old one expired March 31 and a new one needs to be in the possession of an angler to be legal. Incidentally, the catch record cards need to be returned to the Department of Fish &Wildlife by April 30. This management tool is used to gauge fish harvests and is needed even if nothing was caught or you did not fish.
Our focus is clearly in the direction of lake fishing. To help this endeavor, the Department of Fish &Wildlife conducted a special spring break opener at Vance Creek Pond No. 1 (Bowers Lake) for juveniles, seniors over 70 and anglers with a disability who possess a designated harvester companion card. This fishery is open until the 13th and then will be closed until the regular scheduled opener on the last Saturday of April.
Because of this special opening, three of our local lakes were planted with both catchable-sized trout as well as quality trout. This simply means that the other lakes, namely Duck Lake and Lake Sylvia which are year-round fisheries, will have some new fish to be caught. This would be the case if the planted fish were not completely harvested in that short period of time.
Juveniles will get yet another fishing opportunity before the statewide opener of April 28. Failor Lake will open to juveniles 14 years and younger who participate in the fishing derby hosted by the Grays Harbor Poggie Club. This special fishery will begin at 8 a.m. on April 19 and following this event the lake will close until the regularly scheduled lowland trout opener on April 28. As is the case with any derby, these juvenile anglers need to check in and get registered for the event.
There are still some remote river fishing opportunities within a short window of time. The Chehalis River will close to trout and other game fish as of April 15. This will also be the case for the Clearwater River, Upper Quinault River and Hoh River. Some of the sections of our northern coastal rivers will remain open until April 30 for what would be the special Wild Steelhead Retention fishery as outlined in the Department of Fish &Wildlife sport fishing rules pamphlet. When those rivers eventually close, it will now mark the beginning of a new season with a new outlook.
It is obvious that if anglers wish to do any river fishing, they will need to prepare for some travel. This is the case for the northern rivers or even some of the year round river fisheries such as the Cowlitz, Kalama, Lewis and Columbia rivers.