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News / Sports / Outdoors

Casting away barriers: Disabled anglers have many options in SW Washington

Many local waters have built access docks and platforms

By Terry Otto, Columbian freelance outdoors writer
Published: June 22, 2024, 6:05am
4 Photos
Kress Lake offers scenic views, good fishing, and four ADA fishing platforms. The access is level and very easy from the parking lot to the platforms.
Kress Lake offers scenic views, good fishing, and four ADA fishing platforms. The access is level and very easy from the parking lot to the platforms. (Photos by Terry Otto/for The Columbian) Photo Gallery

Disabled anglers across Washington’s Region 5 have a number of ADA access fishing sites to choose from, and there are more such sites being planned.

ADA stands for the Americans with Disability Act, which was passed in 1990, and guarantees that disabled Americans will have full access to activities that able-bodied citizens enjoy.

That includes fishing.

To that end, many local waters have built access docks and platforms that allow people with disabilities to enjoy fishing. There are sites that offer angling for trout, warm water species such as bass and panfish, and even a few that offer a chance at hooking a salmon or steelhead.

While many of these docks and platforms are funded through programs offered by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, they are often managed by other entities. Britton Ransford, a communications specialist for the southwest region of WDFW, addressed these partnerships recently.

“The WDFW does not manage many of the facilities that offer ADA fishing access in Region 5,” said Ransford in an email. “WDFW partners with cities, counties, other state agencies, the U.S. Forest Service, private landowners, and timber companies to develop hunting, fishing, and wildlife viewing opportunities, which are then implemented by the specific partner.”

While there are plenty of ADA fishing docks and access in Region 5, Ransford admits that more needs to be done, and the department is looking to upgrade some facilities, as well as add more opportunities.

There are some good options for local disabled anglers. Here are a few to start with.

Kress Lake

Stacie Kelsey, of the WDFW Inland Fishes Program, said that this lake may be one of the best options for a disabled angler, and it is very popular because it has four very easy to access ADA fishing platforms. She has also observed that the anglers at the lake are very conscientious when it comes to the disabled fishers.

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“Some waters have a rule that if a disabled person wants to come and fish, you are supposed to move if you are able bodied,” said Kelsey. “While that is not the case at Kress, when the disabled anglers arrive, people are generous, and they will move or make room.”

Kress is stocked with trout most of the year, including those big, Black Friday rainbows. The lake also receives brown trout, and excess steelhead. Most trout anglers are fishing Powerbait, but spinners will also work well.

The four fishing platforms are located on either side of the lake’s boat launch, right where the trout and steelhead are stocked, so the anglers have a first-rate chance of getting their limit.

In the summer the lake sports warm water fisheries, including largemouth bass, and panfish. There are pumpkinseed, bluegill, and warmouth that will readily take worms under a bobber.

The lake is located just off the I-5 Kalama Road exit, just north of Kalama.

Klineline Pond

This popular lake in the Salmon Creek area of Vancouver offers two ADA fishing platforms, and the lake is regularly stocked with trout from fall through spring. Once again, the best bite seems to be on Powerbait.

Battle Ground Lake

The lake at this state park had a new fishing dock built just a couple years ago, and it is an excellent choice for stocked trout. Kelsey reports that the dock is often used by anglers that use the walkers that convert into a chair to access the fishing.

Lake Sacajawea

Martin’s Dock at Lake Sacajawea in Longview offers good access to the lakes fishing, and it is a good place to take kids. There is playground equipment and more for the family, and anglers have a shot at trout in the winter, and warm water species the rest of the year.

Drano Lake

This lake in the Columbia River Gorge has a fishing platform that can be reached via an access trail that drops gently from the parking area, and offers an excellent opportunity for salmon and steelhead, particularly in the fall. Most anglers are fishing bait below a bobber, but spinners can sometimes draw action, and the water is also good for fly fishing.

There are also other ADA facilities that allow anglers to fish for salmon and steelhead in the local rivers.

Cowlitz River

The Cowlitz has two ADA fishing areas, one at the salmon hatchery, and one at the trout hatchery.

Lewis River

The lower Lewis has one area that is in the planning stages for Haapa Park. It is set to be installed later this summer. Haapa Park is in Clark County near Woodland.

These facilities are required of the utilities as part of their license with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Also, while it is not an official ADA site, there is a fishing platform on the Swift Power Canal that does provide some access for fishers with mobility issues.

These are just a few of the ADA fishing sites across Region 5. For information on other access areas, you can check out the WDFW interactive map of ADA facilities at the interactive accessibility recreational map.

The ADA Advisory Committee reports to the Fish and Wildlife Commission and consists of Washington residents representing each region. This committee works to review, enhance, and create more recreational opportunities as well as legislation that advocates for persons with disabilities.

Ransford also points to ongoing efforts within Region 5 to locate other areas for possible ADA fishing sites. He reports that the department is dedicated to doing more to allow disabled residents to enjoy a good day of fishing in Southwest Washington.

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Columbian freelance outdoors writer