News, OREGON, Recreation

First Free Fishing weekend of 2024 is February 17 and 18

The first free fishing weekend of the year is President’s Day weekend.

On Friday and Saturday, February 17 and 18, fishing is free in Oregon.

Fishing, crabbing, and clamming is free to all residents and non-residents, meaning no fishing licenses or tags, including a Combined Angling Tag or Columbia River Basin Endorsement are required.

You still have to follow the rest of the fishing regulations though.

Here’s a good starting point for those unfamiliar with fishing in Oregon.

To prepare for the weekend, there’s good news for area anglers. Hagg Lake, the most popular fishing spot in western Washington County, will be stocked with 1,000 trophy size trout—that’s trout that are at least 15 inches—sometime in the week before President’s Day. It will be the first batch of fish the lake, created in 1975 by the construction of the Scoggins Dam, will receive this year. Many more will follow.

“Bred to fight,” is how the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife (ODF&W) described the rainbow trout grown to trophy size in a 2017 press release. The program began following the 2015 legislative session when lawmakers worked with the department to launch a pilot program to stock larger fish in five lakes across the state. Since then, smaller lakes like Hagg Lake have been added to the program.

While the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife doesn’t disclose the actual day they plan to stock bodies of water, the state agency said Hagg Lake would be stocked sometime between February 12 and 16.

You can see all the bodies of water throughout the state scheduled to be stocked online.

Following Free Fishing weekend, Hagg Lake will be stocked again, this time with 12,000 legal-size trout between February 26 and March 1.
Oregon’s fishing regulations define that as eight inches for most bodies of water.

Other common area stocked bodies of water include Gales Creek’s Dorman Pond, located just west of the Gales Creek Road and Highway 6 intersection, and Vernonia Pond, located in the city of Vernonia. Both will be stocked first in March; Dorman Pond from March 11 to March 15 with 1,000 legal-size trout, and Vernonia with 2,500 legal-size trout from March 18 to 22.

There will be two more free fishing weekends in 2024; June 1-2 and November 29-30 will close out the year.

Chas Hundley is the editor of the Gales Creek Journal and sister news publications the Banks Post and the Salmonberry Magazine. He grew up in Gales Creek and has a cat.

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