Trout Frenzy: Spring Fishing in Washington

trout fish

If you’re jonesing to go fishing, spring is calling your name! Those rainbow trout in Washington’s lakes are just waiting for you to come catch ’em.

To get the jump on these tasty fish, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has been hard at work stocking lakes all over the state with plump, delicious trout. We’re talking loads of 10-12 inch fish in all 39 counties – millions of them! Steve Caromile, WDFW’s head honcho for inland fish, says they’ve hit tons of popular trout lakes in preparation for spring.

And if you’re looking for a real beast of a trout, keep your eyes peeled for the 150,000 1+ pound lunkers they’ve added to select year-round lakes. Those babies have been growing for a year or two and are ready for the taking!

Justin Spinelli, biologist for the Puget Sound region, reports they’ve been stocking like crazy lately. And it’s gonna get even wilder as spring gets closer. So grab your gear cuz this spring is shaping up to be a trout bonanza!

When are trout most active and willing to bite? The spring, baby! Cooler water temperatures make them frisky and hungry. Plus, no more dreary gray skies – sunshine and warmer temps are here. The trout fishing is hot and the living’s easy. Time to get out there!

And while you’re chasing trout, don’t forget the other fish in these stocked lakes. Largemouth and smallmouth bass, catfish, crappie, bluegill…your next trophy catch is waiting. Reel ’em in!

The Best Way to Catch Trout

This article will teach beginners how to fish for trout and will provide them with the fundamentals to get started in an enjoyable, lucrative, and habit-forming type of fishing.

Understand the Fundamentals of Trout Fishing

Listen up, newbie anglers! Before you go sticking any old worm on a hook and tossing your line into the nearest creek, you better learn a thing or two about the fish you’re trying to catch. Trout may look pretty, but they can be wily creatures. First things first – trout are in the salmon family. Most of them live in freshwater, except for steelhead trout which head out to the ocean for a few years before coming back upstream to spawn like their salmon cousins. Got it? Good. Now that we’ve got that covered, let’s talk trout tactics.

Select a Trout Fishing Method

Alright, buckaroos. Time to pick your weapon of choice. When it comes to trout, you’ve got options: live bait, spinners, flies – take your pick. For new fisherfolk, I’d say start with some juicy worms and work your way up from there. Sure, fly fishing looks impressive, but it ain’t easy. Best leave that to the seasoned anglers. If you’re fishing in muddy water, bait’s the way to go since trout can’t see your lure anyway. Got a clear, fast river? Give spinners a whirl. Just know the pros and cons of each and you’ll be reeling ’em in in no time.

Get the Right Tackle and Equipment

Gearing up for trout? Don’t break the bank on fancy equipment just yet. Start simple – rod, reel, line, hooks and bobbers for bait fishing. Add spinners, flies and other gadgets later once you get serious. You don’t want to end up with a garage full of stuff you don’t know how to use. Stick to the basics first, get to know your trout, then build your arsenal from there.

Choose a Trout Fishing Location

Where you fish depends on what kind of trout live around you. Here’s a handy guide:

Rivers – Lots of current and muddy water. Can fish with bait, spinners, flies or trolling. If it’s muddy, forget the lures and stick to live bait.

Streams – Smaller, clearer water. Good for bait and flies. Maybe some spinners if it’s wide enough to cast.

Lakes – Big water means you can use anything – bait, lures, flies from shore or a boat. Trolling covers more ground.

Ponds – Small and weedy. Bait and flies from shore or a small boat work best here.

See? You’ve got options, but pay attention to current, clarity and size of the water. Match your method to the environment and you’ll be reeling in trout in no time.

When to Go Fishing

Timing is everything with trout. Do your research and figure out what kind of trout are in your local waters. That’ll tell you when they’re biting best. Brook trout love cold weather, rainbows and browns go for spring and fall when the water’s cool. In summer they head to deeper, cooler spots. Best times of day are early morning and right before sunset when trout are actively feeding. Snooze, you lose! Set that alarm clock if you want to catch the early worm – or fish, in this case.

Select a Bait, Lure, Or Fly

Want to catch that wily trout? Present it with something that looks good enough to eat! For live bait, trout love worms, minnows, salmon eggs. For lures and flies, match the hatch – whatever insects or baitfish are naturally in the water, imitate them. Flashy spinners and spoons mimic injured baitfish when retrieved. Dry flies float on the surface like the real bugs trout feed on. Nymphs and streamers imitate larvae and baitfish below the surface. Mix it up and see what they bite that day!

Make the Correct Fishing Knot

If you don’t know your knots, that trout’s gonna head for the hills with your bait, lure or fly. Take the time to learn solid fishing knots before you head out: Palomar, improved clinch, trilene knot for hooking bait. Nail those basics first, then get fancy with snells, blood knots and more. A good knot means the difference between landing your catch and watching it swim away with a big fat grin on its face. Don’t let that trout outsmart you!

Catching & Landing Trout

You got a bite! Now the fun begins. First things first, set that hook fast and hard. Give your rod a strong yank sideways or straight up – you gotta drive that hook into the trout’s mouth before it spits it out. Once you feel it’s hooked, get your rod tip up and start reeling in line. Don’t just sit there! Turning the handle of your reel brings him in closer. Keep steady pressure, don’t let him have any slack. If he fights, let him run a bit by lowering your rod tip, then pump him back in. Once he’s tiring out, use your net to scoop him up. Don’t forget a photo for the ‘gram before releasing him or making him your dinner!

List of Year-Round Lake Trout Plants

Eastern Washington (Region 1)

  • Asotin County — Golf Course Pond, 15,500; Headgate Pond, 1,000; West Evans Pond, 15,500; and Silcott Pond, 1,000.
  • Columbia County — Blue, 16,000; Curl, 8,000 (opens Saturday before Memorial Day); Dayton Pond (open for juvenile youth only), 1,400; Deer, 3,000; Orchard Pond, 1,600; Rainbow, 15,300; Spring, 11,000; and Watson, 12,000.
  • Ferry County — Ferry, 2,500; and Fish, 450.
  • Pend Oreille County — Leo, 2,200.
  • Spokane County — Bear, 1,500; Clear, 9,500; Liberty, 4,000.
  • Stevens County — Deer, 3,500; Gillette, 2,700; Heritage, 4,000; Jumpoff Joe, 4,700; Sherry, 1,450; and Thomas, 9,000.
  • Walla Walla County — Bennington, 17,000; Fish Hook Park Pond, 4,000; Hood Park Pond, 6,000; Jefferson Park Pond, 3,000; Lions Park Pond, 400; and Quarry Pond, 18,000.
  • Whitman County — Garfield Pond, 2,000; Gilchrist Pond, 1,000; Pampa Pond, 6,000; and Riparia Pond, 500.

North Central Washington (Region 2)

  • Chelan County — Fish, 15,000; and Roses, 2,000.
  • Douglas County — Big Bow Pond, 7,000Hammond Pond, 4,000; Pit Pond (Kids), 4,000; and Putters Pond (Rock Island #4), 10,000.
  • Grant County — Upper Caliche, 1,000; Canal, 3,000; Corral, 3,500; Heart, 1,000; Lenice, 2,337; Martha, 1,500; Nunally, 2,750; and Windmill, 2,500.
  • Okanogan County — Aspen, 75; Beaver (Big), 300; Beaver (Little), 100; Bonaparte, 400; Buck, 350; Campbell, 300; Cougar, 150; Dibble, 50; Ell, 75; Green (Big), 500; Green (Little), 150; Hess, 200; Molson, 1,000; Sidley, 2,000; Spectacle, 10,000 and 5,200 tiger trout; and Starzman (Middle), 75.

South Central Washington (Region 3)

  • Benton County — Columbia Park Pond, 6,000.
  • Franklin County — Dalton, 16,000; and Marmes Pond, 1,500.
  • Yakima County — Clear, 17,225; Dog, 7,000; Firing Center Pond, 300; Granger Pond, 1,400; Indian Flat Pond, 800; I-82 Pond #1, 1,500; I-82 Pond #2, 2,000; I-82 Pond #3, 1,000; I-82 Pond #4, 6,450; I-82 Pond #6, 5,950; Lost, 3,500; Myron, 500; Rotary, 7,620; Reflection Pond Sarge Hubbard Park (juvenile youth only), 6,600; Tieton Ranger Pond, 1,000; and Tims Pond, 5,500.

North Puget Sound (Region 4)

  • Island County — Cranberry, 10,000; and Lone, 3,500.
  • King County — Alice, 3,600; Angle, 6,200; Beaver, 6,500; Bitter, 1,500; Boren, 1,500; Deep, 3,600; Desire, 8,000; Dolloff, 2,000; Echo, 1,000; Fenwick, 1,800; Fish, 1,500; Fivemile, 3,000; Green, 10,500; Haller, 1,300; Holm, 1,700; Killarney, 2,500; Meridian, 11,800; Morton, 5,000; Rattlesnake, 3,500; Sawyer, 2,000; Shadow, 4,300; Spring, 6,800; Star, 3,300; Trout, 1,800; and Twelve, 4,000.
  • Kittitas County — Cooper, 3,000; Easton Ponds, 6,100; Fio Rito, 9,000; Kiwanas Pond, 1,800; Lavendar, 4,500; Mattoon, 9,000; McCabe Pond, 3,000; Milk Pond, 300; Naneum Pond (Juvenile youth only), 2,400; Quartz Creek Pond, 600; and Woodhouse Pond, 300.
  • San Juan County — Egg, 600; and Hummel, 1,000.
  • Skagit County — Clear, 6,000; Grandy, 5,300; Pass, 500; and Vogler, 1,000.
  • Snohomish County — Ballinger, 7,600; Blackmans, 6,700; Cassidy, 3,500; Chain, 1,000; Flowing, 7,400; Gissberg Ponds (North), 1,500; Gissberg Ponds (South), 3,000; Goodwin, 6,000; Ketchum, 2,000; Loma, 1,500; Lost, 1,500; Martha (AM), 6,700; Martha (Warm Beach), 3,000; Panther, 1,500; Roesiger, 6,000; Shoecraft, 4,800; Silver, 6,700; and Tye, 3,500.
  • Whatcom County — Squalicum, 1,500; and Terrell, 2,000.

Southwest Washington (Region 5)

  • Clark County — Battleground, 26,633 plus 3,000 cutthroat; Klineline Pond, 31,600 plus 3,000 cutthroat; and Lacamas, 15,000.
  • Cowlitz County — Horseshoe, 18,461; Kress, 13,711 and 2,000 browns; Merwin, 93,000 kokanee; Sacajawea, 16,644 and 2,000 browns; and Silver, 9,200.
  • Klickitat County — Maryhill Pond, 900.
  • Lewis County — Chambers, 1,000; Fort Borst Park Pond, 7,800; Scanewa, 20,000; Long, 1,000; Knuppenburg, 1,000; Mayfield, 72,000; Plummer, 3,000; South Lewis County Park Pond, 8,000; and Swofford Pond, 20,000.
  • Skamania County — Council, 3,331; Goose, 6,000 plus 9,500 cutthroat; Icehouse, 6,000; Little Ash Lake, 4,500; Takhlakh, 3,332; and Tunnel, 2,000.
  • Coastal Washington (Region 6)
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