North Central Washington: Dozens of the region's lakes open for fishing April 1 most in Adams and Grant counties. To participate in the fishery, anyone age 15 or over must purchase a 2014-15 fishing license, since previous licenses expire at midnight March 31. Licenses and permits are avaiIable online, by phone (1-866-246-9453) and from sporting goods stores and other retail license dealers around the state.
Some of the best fishing on opening day should be at Dry Falls Lake in the north end of Grant County near Coulee City, said Chad Jackson, a fish biologist for Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) from Moses Lake.
"Expect a good to excellent fishing for mostly chunky and hard fighting 14-16 inch rainbow trout," Jackson said. "Brown and tiger trout are also in the lake, and most anglers catch somewhere between 12-20 fish per outing."
Dry Falls has selective-gear rules with a ban on internal combustion motors one fish daily catch limit, so there's a lot of catch-and-release fishing on the lake, Jackson said.
Weather changes can also play anglers for "April fools" on this opener, so be prepared for fickle spring conditions, he said.
Many waters opening April 1 are within the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge, including the Pillar-Widgeon chain of lakes. Jackson said the refuge includes 10 small lakes Pillar, Snipe, Cattail, Gadwall, Poacher, Shoveler, Lemna, Hourglass, Sago, and Widgeon ranging in size from one to 11 acres. All offer rainbow trout running 12 to 20 inches or more.
All of the lakes also require a hike and are best fished from a float tube, said Jackson, noting that they can also be fished from shore. He recommends fishing two to four of the lakes during an outing to maximize success.
North and South Teal lakes, among the "Seep Lakes" south of Potholes Reservoir and north of Othello, should also fish very well this year. Both lakes were rehabilitated in 2010 and now produce yearling rainbow trout averaging 12-13 inches. Winter carryovers up to 20 inches can be expected. Both lakes can be fished from shore and by boat.
In contrast, Upper and Lower Hampton lakes, north of Othello on the federal wildlife refuge, are not expected to fish well on the opener. "Neither lake has been planted since 2012, so only a small number of carryovers are available to anglers to catch," Jackson said. "We were planning to rehabilitate them last year, but our treatment was cancelled due to the federal government shutdown last fall. We're proposing to treat these lakes this fall so that stocking can resume next year."
For anglers interested in warmwater species fishing, Hutchinson and Shiner lakes are a good bet starting April 1, Jackson said. "These two medium-size lakes have lots of largemouth bass, most running 15-18 inches or two to five pounds," Jackson said. "These lakes are best fished from a small boat, canoe, or float tube/pontoon boat." Internal combustion motors are prohibited.
Other trout lakes in the area include Heart, Canal, Windmill, and North Windmill. Jackson said these year-round-open lakes, located just south of Potholes Reservoir, have been fishing well since ice-off. Rainbow trout are running 12-20 inches at all of them.
Two Okanogan County lakes also open to fishing 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.
Anglers can usually expect to catch rainbows in the 10-14 inch range at Spectacle. Washburn Island Pond is a warmwater fishery that provides anglers opportunities for largemouth bass, bluegill, and the occasional channel catfish. Combustible engines may not be used while fishing Washburn.
Several other lakes in Okanogan County shift to catch-and-release fishing under selective gear rules on April 1. These include Campbell, Cougar, Davis, Green and Lower Green, and Rat lakes.
Banks Lake, the Columbia River reservoir open year-round on the northern Grant County line, is fishing well and will only get better this month, said Aulin Smith, WDFW fish biologist. Anglers fishing the north end of Banks are catching limits of trout plunking off the shorelines, he said.
"Boat anglers are having luck casting and/or trolling red or orange colored crankbaits and plugs," Aulin said. "The bass and walleye are still holding in 30 to 50 feet of water. Fishing is slow, but nice fish are being caught. This should improve as the water warms and the fish move up. Try trolling spinners for walleye but don't overlook jigging once you have found them. Use jigs and dropshot rigs for bass."
The Lake Chelan kokanee fishery is already ramping up, said Travis Maitland, a WDFW fish biologist. "These fish are ranging from 12 to 16 inches so far, with an occasional larger fish," he said. "Anglers are also catching some nice rainbow trout while trolling for the kokanee."
Roses Lake has also been producing some nice catches of rainbow trout, many of them members of the 19,000 fish stocked in November, Maitland said. "Depending on how they over-wintered in the lake, they should be 12 to14 inches by now," he said. The lake also has a variety of warm water species, such as bluegill, yellow perch, largemouth bass and channel catfish, which will go on the bite once the water warms up, he said.
In Okanogan County, best bets include 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, lakes opening April 26 worth trying include Wapato and the Wenatchee Heights lakes Clear, Black, Lilly and Beehive. These lakes are primarily being stocked with rainbow trout and should provide "fast" fishing for 12-inch range trout. All of these lakes will also be stocked with 100 to 600 "jumbo" sized triploid rainbow that can range from one to four pounds.
In Douglas County, Jameson Lake is still a popular fishery and should have some good-sized carryovers available. Jameson will also get 600 large "triploid" rainbows just before the opener.
Anglers are reminded that steelhead fishing closed March 31 on the Columbia River and tributaries above Rock Island Dam.