North Central Washington: Summer chinook and sockeye salmon fishing opens July 1 on the mainstem Columbia River from Priest Rapids Dam up to Wells Dam, and from Brewster to Chief Joseph Dam. The Okanogan River, a tributary of the Columbia, also opens for chinook and sockeye on July 1. The mainstem Columbia River section from Wells Dam to the Highway 173 bridge at Brewster opens July 16.
Northcentral Region Fish Manager Jeff Korth expects the mainstem salmon season to provide excellent fishing, especially for sockeye. The daily catch limit for the salmon seasons is up to two adult hatchery-marked chinook, and up to six sockeye, with all coho and all wild chinook released. Anglers should check all the rules for these salmon fisheries as listed in the 2015-2016 Sportfishing Regulation Pamphlet.
Anglers will also want to pay attention to the new way eastern Washington rivers and streams are listed in the new fishing rules pamphlet, effective July 1, 2015 through June 30, 2016. As described in New for 2015 on page three, the Columbia Basin (the Columbia River and its tributaries) is now under the statewide stream strategy where all rivers, streams and beaver ponds are closed unless listed as open in pages 50-76.
Those waters are alphabetically listed on page 50 with reference to rule details under different portions of the Columbia Basin. This is the way western Washington rivers and streams have long been listed.
The ongoing spring chinook salmon fishery on the Icicle River is scheduled to continue through July. Two adipose-fin-clipped chinook salmon, adults or jacks of at least 12 inches, is the daily catch limit.
The Wenatchee River spring chinook fishery is still open in July (it opened in late May by a rule change because of abundant hatchery chinook, until further notice). This fishery usually starts producing a few catches of Wenatchee summer chinook, which are typically larger and considerably brighter fish than the spring chinook.
WDFW Chelan District fish biologist Travis Maitland reminds anglers that Lake Wenatchee sockeye salmon fishing starts July 18 and runs through August. The daily catch limit is six sockeye of at least 12 inches. No night fishing is allowed.
Banks Lake bass fishing is good, with both smallmouth and largemouth taking a variety of presentations. Fishing for yellow perch, rainbow trout and walleye is also possible this month at Banks.
Many Okanogan County waters should be fair to good through July, said Larry Stillwaugh, at WDFWs Omak Trout Hatchery.
Bonaparte Lake, on the Okanogan National Forest northeast of Tonasket, has been producing 13- to 15-inch kokanee, originally stocked from the Omak hatchery. Bonaparte anglers have also been catching some smallmouth bass and are encouraged to remove as many as the 10-fish daily limit to help decrease competition between bass and kokanee or other trout species.
A tiger trout weighing almost 18 1/2 pounds (a new state record pending WDFW final certification) was caught at Bonaparte in May. Stillwaugh notes that based on the age of the fish, it was likely one originally raised at and released from the Omak hatchery.
Just east of Bonaparte, also situated near Okanogan National Forest campgrounds, Beth and Beaver lakes have been producing rainbow trout up to 15 inches.
Blue Lake on Limebelt Road near Omak has also been producing fish up to 15 inches, including both rainbow and eastern brook trout.
Both Conconully Lake and Reservoir have been good for catches of kokanee, rainbow trout and largemouth bass. Stillwaugh says the upper lake seems to be producing a little bigger fish.
Stillwaugh notes Palmer Lake, north of Loomis, should be outstanding for yellow perch and smallmouth bass at this time. There are also lots of warmwater fish species, including big bluegill, to be caught at Spectacle Lake, southwest of Tonasket.
Extremely hot and dry conditions are dropping river and stream water flows and raising water temperatures throughout the region. Fishery managers are considering some river and stream fishing season reductions or restrictions this month to protect fish from over-harvesting. Check WDFWs webpage for updates.
Hot and dry conditions throughout the region mean that anglers using WDFW properties both wildlife areas and water access sites must help prevent wildfires by complying with fire restrictions that recently went into effect. Fireworks are never allowed on any of these sites, but now fires, smoking outside of vehicles, and other restrictions are also in place.