South Central Washington: Trout fishing takes center stage in April as the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) continues planting thousands of rainbows, kokanee and cutthroat in lakes and ponds throughout the region.
More than two-dozen lakes are scheduled to receive fish this month, including Rotary Lake, Tims Pond, I-82 Ponds #4 & #6, Yakima Sportsman Pond, Fio Rito Lakes, Kiwanis Pond, Lavender Lake, McCabe Pond, Naneum Pond, Matton Lake, Woodhouse Pond and more. Most of those fish run from one-third to a half-pound each, but some weigh in at 1½ pounds, said Eric Anderson, a WDFW fish biologist based in Yakima.
"We're putting some hefty, great-looking fish out there this year," Anderson said. "This is a good time to get outdoors and celebrate spring by catching some."
Anderson notes that all anglers 15 and older must have a 2014-2015 fishing license to fish for trout and other species after March 31, when 2013-2014 licenses expire. Licenses ranging from a freshwater-only license to a multi-species combination license are avaiIable online, by phone (1-866-246-9453) and from sporting goods stores and other retail license dealers around the state.
Most steelhead sport fisheries are now closed in the Columbia and Snake rivers, although a "bank only" fishery adjacent to WDFW's Ringold Springs Hatchery near the Tri-Cities is open April 1 through April 15. The daily limit is two hatchery steelhead along the Franklin County shoreline from the WDFW marker a quarter-mile downstream from the Ringold irrigation wasteway outlet to the marker a half-mile upstream from Spring Creek.
Ready for spring chinook? Fishing for springers is finally picking up in the lower Columbia River, and the upriver run should start arriving in area waters in mid-April, said Paul Hoffarth, a WDFW fish biologist based in the Tri-Cities. Spring chinook sport fisheries are planned to open in the Yakima River and the Snake River this spring.
"Anglers should keep an eye out for emergency rules that open and close fishing on short notice," he said. For updates, he recommends checking the fishing-rule website, the Fishing Hotline (360-902-2500) and local news media.
Sturgeon anglers are also advised to stay abreast of new regulations. As of late March, anglers could still catch and keep legal-size sturgeon in Lake Umatilla (John Day Dam to McNary Dam), but that fishery will close as soon as the 500-fish quota for those waters is reached.