North Central Washington: Con conully Lake, Pearrygin Lake, and Alta Lake are the most popular waters (state parks) in Okanogan County by attendance and are big enough to let families spread out, said WDFW District 6 fisheries biologist Ryan Fortier. Smaller opening day waters with more secluded settings include Round and Long lakes, east of Tonasket, Big Beaver and Beth lakes in northeast Okanogan County, and Wannacut Lake, west of Oroville.
Fortier says he is getting a lot of questions about kokanee (landlocked sockeye salmon) fishing. Kokanee lakes in Okanogan County include Patterson, Alta, Conconullys, Bonaparte, and Spectacle
River and stream fishing opens near the end of May, but most Okanogan County rivers are not fishable until after spring runoff is complete, according to Fortier.
In Grant County, lakes that opened April 27 include water bodies on the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge in the Pillar-Widgeon Chain (Pillar, Snipe, Cattail, Gadwall, Poacher, Shoveler, Lemna, Hourglass, Sago, and Widgeon lakes); Upper and Lower Hampton lakes; North and South Teal lakes and Hutchinson-Shiner Lakes.
Pillar-Widgeon Chain: These walk-in lakes are consistent producers of quality trout. They are stocked with spring fingerling rainbows and are a popular destination for fly fishermen looking for a quiet day in a beautiful setting.
North Teal Lake should be especially good this year with rainbow trout in the 12 to 20 inch range. Access at North Teal is good via both shore and boat, with a gravel launch suitable for small boats.
Lower Hampton Lake will produce very nice carryover (two year-old) rainbow trout in the 14 to 16 inch range and yearlings in the 11 to 13 inch range. At this lake, shore anglers often do as well as, if not better than, boat anglers.
Hutchinson and Shiner lakes, on the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge in Adams County, are connected lakes with quality largemouth bass, bluegill, and crappie. They are both best fished from a small boat, canoe, or float tube/pontoon boat. Anglers willing to put in a bit of extra work can row or paddle to the east end of Shiner Lake to target more naïve bass.
Park and Blue lakes are two of Grant Countys top trout waters that have returned to their former glory. Catch rates on these lakes in 2018 were excellent and anglers can expect similar results this year. Both lakes are stocked with tiger and brown trout.
Deep Lake, located in Sun Lakes State Park, is a popular choice for shore and boat fishing in serene and beautiful surroundings. Deep Lake produces high catch rates of rainbow trout in the 11 to 13 inch range. Anglers wishing to troll or fish a little deeper can also catch kokanee. In addition to 13,500 spring fingerling kokanee, Deep Lake also received 10,000 catchable rainbow trout in October 2018, and is scheduled to receive 5,000 additional catchable rainbows this month. A number of tagged rainbow trout were also stocked into Deep Lake for our 2019 Trout Fishing Derby (details below).
Walleye: Walleye fishing should be picking up this month at year-round Moses Lake in the Columbia Basin, said Mike Schmuck, WDFW Columbia Basin district fish biologist.
Moses Lake will soon get increased water flows from Crab Creek when the local irrigation district turns on the water to the East and West Low canals. The higher flows coincide with walleye spawning migration into Crab Creek which typically occurs in April.
Shore fishing for walleye along Crab Creek will be hot in early May, Schmuck said. Use a three-inch, dark-colored curly tail grub attached to a jig that weighs from one quarter to half an ounce, depending on the velocity of the water flow. You will want your jig to be in contact with the bottom of the creek in order for walleye to see it. This is essentially drift fishing with a jig and grub.
Schmuck also reports good shore fishing for walleye with a worm and bobber in the Cascade Valley area of Moses Lake.
The outlets of Moses Lake, where water enters the Potholes Reservoir, can be a great place to target pre-spawn, migrating walleye this month, he said. This is another jig and grub drift fishing opportunity and can be especially good at night, although this shore fishery is also often more crowded at night. This is a great time of year for shore anglers to catch limits of walleye.
Potholes Reservoirs Lind Coulee arm at the east end of the reservoir is another good location for spring walleye. Pre-spawn walleye are abundant there and anglers trolling bottom bouncers with a night crawler will find plenty of hungry fish.
Bank fishing can also be great for trout along the east shore of Potholes Reservoir, Schmuck said. Theres great access via Road M to provide shore anglers plenty of area to fish for trout, walleye, and smallmouth bass.
Bass: Fishing for bass, particularly for largemouth, is also good at Stan Coffin Lake, in the Quincy Wildlife Area this time of year. Anglers should fish just offshore in 8- to 10-feet of water.
In Chelan County, WDFW district fish biologist Travis Maitland says kokanee anglers have been limiting, but have had to work at it. The size of these fish has been averaging a little smaller this year with a lot of fish in the 11 to 12 inch range with the occasional larger, he said.
Traditionally, kokanee fishing improves for both bites and fish size as spring advances.
The year-round-open Antilon Lakes, northwest of Chelan, are producing some nice brown trout. Lower Antilon typically fishes better than Upper Antilon, with 14 to 18-inch browns common.
Black crappie, bluegill, channel catfish, green sunfish, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, tiger muskie, and yellow perch fishing generally picks up in May.
Washburn Island Pond, a diked U-shaped lake off the Columbia River near Fort Okanogan State Park east of Brewster, has largemouth bass, bluegill, and the occasional channel catfish. Combustion engines may not be used on it.
As temperatures warm this month and next on Wapato, Roses, and Dry lakes near Manson, anglers can expect catches of good-sized largemouth bass, along with crappie, bluegill, and yellow perch.