What does it mean to be a Hi-Laker?

And why are Hi-Lakers important to Washington's high lake fishery?

Hi-Lakers and Trail Blazers combine forces on a stocking trip to Francis Lake.

Who are the Hi-Lakers?

We are part of a 63-year history of alpine anglers who promote responsible high country recreation and support the WDFW and other agencies by conducting high lake surveys.

The club was founded in 1958 by three friends, Jack Higgins, Rudy Werth, and Art McPherson, who loved the high lakes—the scenery, the challenge, the fishing, and the camaraderie—and wanted to share their enjoyment with others.

Today we are a diverse group of all ages, backgrounds, and experience levels. We are united by a love of the natural world, driven by our desire to explore the rugged high country, and committed to supporting the high lakes fishery and preserving the surrounding environment.

What it means to be a Hi-Laker

Over the years, as high lakes attracted more traffic, we have evolved into a community that strives for stewardship of the mountain lake wilderness by minimizing our impact on sensitive alpine life and setting positive examples for others. As Hi-Lakers, we understand:

  • The importance of giving more than taking in this delicate put-and-take fishery.
  • We are caretakers of our state’s high lake fishery and must promote it responsibly.
  • It is our duty to protect these jeweled lakes from being overpressured by honoring the incredible fish that live there, the dedicated men and women who labored to plant them, and the ecosystem that enables them to thrive.

We are essential to the high lakes fishery

There are more than 8,500 high elevation lakes in WA and only 6 WDFW biologists to monitor them. This makes it impossible for bios to make informed decisions about fish stocking without volunteer support from the Washington State Hi-Lakers and our partners, the Washington Trail Blazers.

The majority of data that WDFW relies on to manage the high lakes fishery comes from the lake surveys our members provide.

The Hi-Lakers have worked closely with WDFW to develop a system and resources for its members to collect and report data essential to biologists. And each year, the Department issues a list of high-priority survey lakes to help us focus our efforts where they’re most needed. 

We are trusted

This valuable survey data is also accessible to club members who actively participate in the survey program, with the most significant rewards for those with highest participation.

It is critically important to remember that we are entrusted with information about the quality of fishing in highly sensitive areas. This privilege comes with the responsibility to safeguard it.

Here are a few ways you can do your part:

  • First and foremost, remember that the Hi-Lakers database contains confidential information not for sharing outside the club.
  • Always treat info shared in confidence by other members as private.
  • And reach out to club officers if you have questions or concerns about protecting our natural and digital resources.
Ryan Mugan searches the shoreline for insect and amphibian life while surveying a lake.



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  1. Bob Burnell

    Very well written and spot on regarding the HL purpose and objectives. Reading this reminds me why I am proud to be a member and associated with like minded folks.

    • Tony Curless

      That means a lot Bob, especially from someone who has such a rich history with the Hi-Lakers. Thank you for all you’ve done for the club, as a member and committee chair!

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