North Central Washington: Dozens of the regions lakes open to fishing April 1, most in Adams and Grant counties of the Columbia Basin.
But anglers will have to wait until next year to harvest catchable-size rainbow trout at five of them that were rehabilitated last fall to remove undesirable fish. Sago, Hourglass, Widgeon, and Upper and Lower Hampton lakes in Grant County were treated with rotenone to rid them of pumpkinseed sunfish and restore the popular trout fisheries, said Chad Jackson, WDFW Columbia Basin district fish biologist.
Jackson said that treated waters are usually restocked with catchable-size (11-13 inches) rainbow trout, but these five lakes are located within the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which has a national policy that prohibits stocking refuge waters with catchable-size sport fish. Instead, the lakes will be stocked with two-to-four-inch rainbow trout fingerlings that will grow to harvestable size by next years opener.
Other April 1-opening lakes that will provide good trout fishing include Pillar, Snipe, Cattail, Gadwall, Poacher, Shoveler, Lemna, and North and South Teal lakes, Jackson said. Traditionally, some of the best fishing on the April 1 opener should be at Dry Falls Lake in the north end of Grant County near Coulee City. Dry Falls is a selective gear rule fishery with an internal combustion motor prohibition and a one fish daily catch limit, so theres a lot of catch-and-release fishing. Rainbows in the 14- to 16-inch range are common at Dry Falls, but there are also some nice brown and tiger trout.
For anglers interested in fishing for warmwater species, Hutchinson and Shiner lakes in Adams County also open on April 1. Both have lots of nice size largemouth bass and are best fished from a small boat, canoe, or float tube/pontoon boat. Internal combustion motors are prohibited.
Columbia Basin waters that have been open for fishing since March 1, or are open year-round, include Martha, Upper Caliche, Quincy, Burke, and the Quincy walk-in lakes, as well as Blythe, Canal, Chukar, Corral, Heart, Windmill, and North Windmill lakes.
Two Okanogan County lakes also open April 1 Spectacle Lake, just south of Loomis, and Washburn Island Pond, a diked oxbow lake off the Columbia River near Fort Okanogan State Park due east of Brewster off Highway 17.
Ryan Fortier, WDFW Okanogan district fish biologist, says anglers can usually expect to catch rainbows in the 10-14 inch range at Spectacle. Washburn Island Pond is a warmwater fishery that provides opportunities for largemouth bass, bluegill, and the occasional channel catfish. Combustible engines may not be used while fishing Washburn.
Other Okanogan County rainbow trout fisheries shift to catch-and-release only fishing under selective gear rules on April 1. These include Campbell, Cougar, Davis, Green and Lower Green, and Rat lakes.
Kokanee action on year-round-open Palmer Lake is heating up with rising lake temperatures, Fortier said. Anglers are trolling along the southern end of the lake with reports of limits being taken.
Travis Maitland, WDFW Chelan/Douglas district fish biologist, says kokanee fishing is also improving this month at Lake Chelan.
It looks as though we will be having another great quality kokanee year, with plump fish generally ranging in size from 12 to 16 inches and a few larger, Maitland said. April angler success should increase throughout the month with warmer water temperatures and fish moving farther down lake near Manson and Lakeside. Thats where theyre more accessible to a wider range of anglers with all sizes of boats.
Aulin Smith, WDFW scientific technician with the Large Lakes Research Office, recommends fishing year-round-open Banks Lake, the Columbia River reservoir that stretches between Electric City and Coulee City near the Grant-Douglas county line
Banks has been turning out walleye and perch to those trolling spinners in 40 to 50 feet of water, Smith said. But as the water temperatures rise, the fish are moving up. Better quality walleye are being caught by patient jig anglers. They are also finding a few burbot and whitefish. Trout and bass are taking crankbaits. Pick a spot, follow the shoreline, and make lots of casts. Its been slower for the bank anglers, but some are catching a few with marshmallows and worms, spinners, and crankbaits. Carp are also starting to move up into the shallows, especially on calm, sunny afternoons.
Many other fisheries throughout the region open April 25, the single biggest fishing season opener in the state.
In Okanogan County, best bets may be Pearrygin Lake, near Winthrop; Conconully Lake and Reservoir, within the town of Conconully; Alta Lake, just west of Pateros; and Wannacut Lake, near Oroville.
In Chelan County, April 25-opening lakes worth trying include Wapato and the Wenatchee Heights lakes Clear, Black, Lilly and Beehive. These lakes have been or will be stocked with mostly rainbow trout and should be fast fishing for 12-inch range trout.
In Douglas County, Jameson Lake is still a popular fishery and there should be some good size carry overs available.
Steelhead fishing at Ringold in the Hanford Reach of the Columbia River, just north of the Tri-Cities, has been great, according to Mike Erickson of WDFWs Ringold Springs Fish Hatchery. Recent steelhead captures, to provide adult broodstock for hatchery production, indicate the quality. The fishery closed on the river March 31, but the Ringold Area Bank Fishery runs April 1-15 for catch-and-release, except that up to two hatchery-marked steelhead can be retained.
Beginning April 1, all anglers 15 and older must have a 2015-2016 fishing license to fish for trout and other species; 2014-2015 licenses expire March 31. Licenses ranging from a freshwater-only license to a multi-species combination license are available online, by phone (1-866-246-9453) and from sporting goods stores and other retail license dealers around the state.