Eastern Washington: Some of the regions best trout fishing will begin at the end of the month with the lowland lakes season opener on April 25.
Randy Osborne, WDFW central district fish biologist, said most waters around Spokane will be well-stocked and ready to go, including Williams, West Medical, Fishtrap and Clear lakes.
"A couple lakes that should fish well for the opener are West Medical near Medical Lake, and Fish Lake near Cheney," Osborne said. "The aeration system at West Medical helped keep lake conditions stable through the winter, and Fish Lake should be in pretty good shape, offering anglers brook trout, brown trout, and a few carry-over rainbows."
Many trout lakes in Ferry, Stevens, and Pend Oreille counties are also good bets on the April 25 opening day, said Bill Baker, WDFW northeast district fish biologist. They include Waitts, Cedar, Rocky and Starvation lakes in Stevens County; Ellen Lake in Ferry County; and Diamond and Marshall lakes in Pend Oreille County.
But anglers don't have to wait until the end of the month to catch fish. There's plenty of good fishing to be had in lakes that opened March 1 or that are open year-round.
Osborne said a prime example is Amber Lake in southwest Spokane County, which has been giving up some nice rainbow and cutthroat trout under selective gear rules (no bait, artificial flies and lures only, knotless nets). Fishing at Amber Lake is catch-and-release until April 25, when it shifts to a catch-and-keep season with a daily limit of two trout measuring at least 14 inches. Rainbows with clipped adipose fins caught at Amber must be released even after April 25.
Other popular lakes open all month in Spokane County include:
Liberty Lake, east of Spokane, which started out slow after the March 1 opener, but should offer good catches of brown and rainbow trout as the season progresses. Once the water warms, it also provides some of the earliest yellow perch and crappie fishing in the area.
Downs Lake, east of Sprague, which is planted with "catchable-size" rainbow trout, should also fish well this month for largemouth bass, yellow perch, and crappie.
Medical Lake, near the town of the same name, has brown and rainbow trout.
In Lincoln County, Coffeepot Lake is producing rainbow trout, mostly on flies. Coffeepot is also under selective gear rules, with a minimum size limit of 18 inches and a daily catch limit of one trout. The boat launch at Coffeepot is closed to launching boats from trailers due to low water conditions. The Bureau of Land Management closed the launch to prevent vehicles and boat trailers from getting stuck in the mud. Anglers can still launch car-toppers and other watercraft that can be launched by hand. When conditions improve, the launch will be re-opened for trailered boat launching.
Deer Lake in southern Stevens County, which opened March 1, is warming up and producing catches of rainbow and lake trout, with bass, crappie, perch catches not far behind.
Rock Lake, open year-round in Whitman County, is consistently a good spot for catches of both brown and rainbow trout. Long Lake (Lake Spokane) is also open year-round and continues to produce great catches of 13-15 inch rainbow trout, and it should provide decent opportunity for bass, perch, and crappie as conditions warm up.
In the south end of the region, the Tucannon River impoundments (man-made lakes) on WDFWs Wooten Wildlife Area have been producing nice rainbow catches since opening March 1. Area manager Kari Dingman said Big Four, Blue, Deer, Rainbow, Spring and Watson lakes are all well-stocked with hatchery trout and warming up as spring advances.
Anglers and other Wooten Wildlife Area recreationists can learn about WDFWs plans for management and recreation improvements in the Tucannon floodplain at public open houses on April 7 in Richland and Dayton. The Richland open house is 4-6 p.m. at the Richland Public Library, Gallery Conference Room, 955 Northgate Drive, in Richland. The Dayton open house is 7-9 p.m. at the Best Western Plus Dayton Hotel and Suites, 507 E. Main Street, in Dayton.