For many anglers, “opening day” is synonymous with the start of the lowland lakes trout-fishing season, which gets under way April 30 this year. More than 300,000 Washingtonians are expected to descend on trout-stocked waters throughout the state that day to kick off the new season.
But anglers – and hunters, too – are also looking forward to a variety of other “opening days” this month for seasons ranging from lingcod fishing on the north coast to turkey hunting throughout the state. Some ocean beaches will also open for morning razor clam digs if tests show the clams are safe to eat.
“April really marks the start of the new year for fishing and hunting,” said Joe Stohr, deputy director of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). “Some winter fisheries are still going strong, but the annual cycle is beginning again with a new year of outdoor activities.”
For most people, a valid 2011-12 fishing or hunting license is required to get in on the action after March 31, when all 2010-11 licenses expire. The exception is young people under age 15, who may fish for free.
Licenses and permits are avaiIable online , 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 online and from local WDFW offices around the state.
Key dates for anglers and hunters to keep in mind for the month of April include:
- April 2-3 – A two-day spring turkey hunt for hunters age 15 and younger is scheduled statewide.
- April 4 – Spring chinook fishery closes below Bonneville Dam, but could reopen after a catch assessment.
- April 7-9 – Morning razor-clam dig scheduled at Long Beach and Twin Harbors, pending the results of marine toxin tests. See WDFW’s razor clam webpage for details.
- April 15 – The general spring turkey hunt opens for hunters of all ages and runs through May 31. See WDFW's Washington Wild Turkey Spring Season pamphlet for details.
- April 16 – Lingcod fishing opens off Neah Bay in Marine Area 4. The fishery has been open in ocean marine areas 1-3 since mid-March.
- April 19-23 – Morning razor-clam dig scheduled at several beaches, pending the results of marine toxin tests. See WDFW’s razor clam webpage for details.
- April 30 – Several hundred lowland lakes open to trout fishing across the state for the biggest "opening day" of the year.
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. These reports are updated throughout the month for changes in fishing rules and other developments throughout the state.