Coastal and southwest Washington lakes provide hatchery steelhead fishing opportunities

A hatchery steelhead is released into Lake Inez in Elma in January 2022. Photo by WDFW.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is releasing surplus adult hatchery steelhead into several coastal and southwest Washington lakes that are open year-round for fishing.

Staff are trucking hundreds of steelhead, weighing an average of eight to 10 pounds each, to these lakes in February and March. The plants will provide anglers an opportunity to harvest hatchery steelhead without affecting wild fish populations.

Upcoming steelhead plants into lakes in the Coastal and Southwest Washington regions include:

· Fort Borst Park Lake, Centralia

· Horseshoe Lake, Burley

· Kress Lake, Kelso

· Lake Inez, Elma

Steelhead are highly regarded game fish. They are the same species as rainbow trout, but while rainbow trout remain in freshwater, steelhead are “anadromous” and travel to the ocean before returning to spawn in freshwater. Unlike salmon, steelhead can survive spawning and return to spawn more than once.

Planted hatchery steelhead will have a tag along their dorsal fin with a phone number for WDFW staff, who will track the program’s success. Photo by WDFW.

Planted fish will have a tag along their dorsal fin with a phone number for WDFW staff, who will track the program’s success. Call the number and answer a few questions.

For freshwater fishing rules, including daily catch limits in lakes and ponds, refer to the 2023–24 Washington Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet, available online and at hundreds of license dealers around the state. Anglers are not required to record “landlocked” steelhead caught in lakes and ponds on their catch record cards.

Learn more about fishing opportunities on these and other lowland lakes on the WDFW website.

Visit WDFW’s catchable trout plant reports page for weekly release numbers and dates by each lake location listed above.

More information on steelhead fishing regulations and seasons for the Coastal Region, including closures in Grays Harbor and the Chehalis Basin, is available on this webpage.

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The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is dedicated to preserving, protecting and perpetuating the state’s fish and wildlife resources.