A tagged prize trout in the 2021 Trout Derby in a net after being caught.
Catch a prize trout with an orange tag through Oct. 31 and you’ll be a winner in the WDFW statewide Trout Derby. (WDFW)

Top 8 reasons to take part in the WDFW Trout Derby (even if you’ve never fished before)

The 2021 statewide Trout Derby is on now through Oct. 31 at more than 100 stocked lakes. The free annual event features over 70 participating businesses offering more than 1,000 prizes valued at over $38,000.

Read on for what makes this event a unique offering full of fun outings for you and yours, even if you’re new to fishing:

Take your time

1. This derby is not restricted to just a handful of days. It started April 24 and runs all the way through Oct. 31, so you have lots of time to try to catch a derby fish. With no need to deal with crowded fishing holes, you can participate in this derby on your own terms.

Plenty of opportunity

2. So you have time on your side, but you also have plenty of opportunity in this derby. There are prize trout swimming in more than 100 stocked lakes, so you have options. Visit the derby lakes page for the complete list of participating lakes to find a spot near you.

You get a head start and updates

3. Not only do you already know where the tagged prize fish are, you can also get real-time updates on how many are left in each derby lake. From the derby lakes page, you can navigate to the lake you have your eye on. There you’ll be able to see how many tagged prize fish have been caught so far in that lake — and what those prizes are — as well as how many are still in the water waiting to be landed.

Get your feet wet

4. The derby is for everyone. Trout fishing is enjoyed by seasoned anglers just as it is also a great way to introduce beginners to fishing. With no need to be a pro to take part, the Trout Derby is a perfect place to get started in fishing. If you’re new to the sport, check out our “Basic Techniques for Trout Fishing in Washington” video.

You’re well on your way

5. Getting started in the derby is also easy because it’s open to anyone with a valid 2021 fishing license. There is no entrance fee or registration required. You just catch a trout with an orange WDFW tag and you win a prize to claim at the derby information page. You can buy your license today by visiting https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov, calling 360–902–2464, or going to a license dealer near you.

No charge for the little ones

6. Children age 14 and under do not need a fishing license so they fish for free! If you’re thinking of taking your children trout fishing this year, WDFW has collected tips and tricks from staff biologists on fishing with youngsters to help make your outing a success: Read our blog on introducing kids to fishing.

Boat or bank

7. Another thing that makes the Trout Derby — and trout fishing in general — great for newcomers is that you do not need a boat to fish for trout. Check out the derby lakes page, where each individual lake webpage will give you details on shore access for the bank angler.

Shop local

8. Many of the Trout Derby prizes — from store gift certificates to resort stays to tackle and more — are donated by Washington businesses. Check out the prizes that have already been claimed through the derby lakes page to get a feel for what local offerings could still be swimming out there and waiting to be claimed.

For more on how the derby works, visit the derby information page. Be safe, tight lines, and enjoy fishing Washington!

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