North Central Washington: Steelhead fishing on the Upper Columbia River continues to be productive for anglers braving the cold and putting in the time to land nice fish.
WDFW district fish biologist Travis Maitland reports that although steelheading has not been red hot recently, there are decent fish being landed by the hardy and tenacious. In late November, Maitland watched an angler pull steelie from the pool behind Rocky Reach Dam that measured 38 inches and weighed 15 pounds.
The mainstem Columbia River from Rock Island Dam to 400 feet below Chief Joseph Dam and portions of several tributaries (Wenatchee, Entiat, Methow, Okanogan, Similkameen rivers) are currently open to hatchery steelhead fishing until further notice. Anglers must wild steelhead, but retain hatchery fish (marked by a clipped adipose fin) to help increase the proportion of natural-origin steelhead on the spawning grounds. The catch limit is two hatchery steelhead per day.
Three lakes in Okanogan County open for catch and keep trout fishing Dec. 1. Rat Rat Lake near Brewster and Big and Little Green lakes near Omak switch from a catch-and-release regulation to a five-trout daily catch limit. All three lakes provide good angling throughout the winter months, whether open water as they mostly are now, or iced-over later in the season. Usually catches of rainbow trout in the 10 to 12-inch range are made on a variety of bait, lures, and flies.
Maitland reports that year-round-open Fish and Roses lakes in Chelan County are not safely iced over yet.
Once solid, safe ice forms on these lakes, we should have good fishing for rainbow trout on Roses Lake, he said, noting that WDFW stocked 16,000 rainbows there in November. Fish Lake should continue to be a good producer of average sized yellow perch through the ice, he said. We just need some colder temps to get these fisheries going.
Year-round-open Moses Lake in the Columbia Basin usually provides good yellow perch fishing as the fish bunch up into large schools. WDFW district fish biologist Chad Jackson says that some winters Moses Lake freezes over and provides good ice fishing for both perch and rainbow trout. The most popular ice fishing location is near Blue Heron Park.