Hundreds of lowland lakes around Washington open for fishing on April 27

Lowland lakes opener heralds the start of WDFW trout derby, with more than 800 prizes available


Anglers can look forward to trout fishing in hundreds of lowland lakes throughout the state beginning April 27— and perhaps winning one of more than 800 trout derby prizes along with their catch, according to the Washington state Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). 

The annual trout derby kick-off coincides with the lowland lakes season opener.

WDFW stocks millions of trout in lakes throughout the year, and opening day marks the first time people can fish many of those lakes for the catchable trout planted every winter and spring. 

Opening day lakes are often stocked shortly before the start of their six-month season. Anglers can visit to see which lakes have been stocked in recent weeks and can sort by county or waterbody to find a nearby stocked lake.

WDFW planted over 14.5 million trout and kokanee across Washington in the past year. The trout averages 2.5 fish per pound and 12 to 14 inches. There are also nearly 143,000 jumbo trout that measure more than 14 inches, averaging one to 1.5 pounds. Most jumbo trout are planted in March and April, with others saved for fall planting.

Depending on the lake, people might encounter rainbow trout, cutthroat trout, kokanee salmon and other fish species. Anglers can visit WDFW’s fish stocking webpage for information, including the 2024 statewide hatchery trout and kokanee stocking plan and recent catchable trout plant reports.

This year, the annual statewide trout derby boasts more than 800 donated prizes worth over $42,000 in total, which anglers can claim by catching tagged trout in lakes across Washington. More than 100 lakes will feature prize fish in 2024. The derby website,, will be updated to include a list of lakes containing tagged fish the week before the event begins. 

The derby runs through Oct. 31.

“The trout derby is a very popular activity for Washington anglers of all ages and backgrounds,” said Steve Caromile, inland fish program manager with WDFW. “The hard work of fish and hatchery staff along with the generosity of our vendors has made the trout derby something anglers look forward to each year.”

To participate in the opener and the derby, Washington anglers must have a valid resident or non-resident 2024 Get Outdoors package, annual freshwater, annual Fish WA, annual combination or temporary combination license. 

WDFW reminds anglers that temporary combination fishing licenses cannot be used from April 27 through May 5 for game fish, except for active-duty military personnel serving in any branch of the United States armed forces. 

Licenses can be purchased online, by telephone at 360-902-2464 or at hundreds of license dealers across the state.

“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,” WDFW stated in a news release. 

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 with the purchase 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 on WDFW’s website.

Certain Washington lakes are open year-round, and many lakes in central Washington opened March 1. 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.