North Central Washington: April 22 opening season: May is prime fishing month throughout the region with action heating up on waters that just opened April 22, along with those that have been open since earlier in the year.
Okanogan County had March-like conditions on opening day with ice on some lakes, so fish were slow to bite, reports Ryan Fortier, WDFW Okanogan district fish biologist.
"We still had a large opening day turnout on the Conconully lakes," he said. "Pearrygin Lake rainbows were reluctant to strike boat-trolled tackle on the opener, preferring the still presentations of shore anglers. Access to Chopaka Lake was blocked by snow on the opener so the first fishing there is likely to be this month. But these cooler water temperatures just mean anglers will have good fishing action longer this year."
Opening day creel checks in Okanogan County showed Conconully Lake anglers each averaged 2.5 rainbow trout up to 15 inches. Round Lake anglers each averaged almost five trout up to 13 inches. Long Lake anglers averaged four trout up to 12 inches. Pearrygin Lake anglers averaged only about one trout up to 14 inches.
In Douglas County, Jameson Lake saw an average of almost five trout caught per angler, with the largest rainbow a 24-incher from among the 400-plus "jumbos" recently stocked there. Most of the catch was 12 to 14-inch rainbows from fingerlings stocked last year.
In Chelan County, Wapato Lake anglers averaged 3.4 trout, with the largest measured at 19 inches.
In Grant County, Deep Lake had an average per angler catch of 3.5 rainbows up to 15 inches. Perch Lake anglers averaged almost five trout each, including a 17-inch rainbow. Warden Lake anglers averaged almost four trout each, with 12 inches being the largest checked. Vic Meyers Lake (or Rainbow Lake) anglers averaged almost two trout up to 15 inches. Blue Lake anglers averaged a little over three trout each, up to 16 inches.Park Lake anglers averaged 3.5 trout with fish up to 16 inches.
Other trout waters: WDFW Chelan district fish biologist Travis Maitland says year-round-open Lake Chelan has plenty of westslope cutthroat trout that are relatively easy to catch either from shore or in a boat trolling or casting near shore.
"No down rigging is needed and bait is not a must," Maitland said. "Shore anglers can do well with just casting and retrieving various types of spinners and spoons anywhere from the Manson area up lake to Stehekin. Boat fishermen do well trolling spoons, spinners and small plugs such as flatfish and the little 2-1/2-inch Maglips. I have also watched boat anglers anchor and cast to fish with fly gear, which seems to be equally effective."
Maitland says most of Lake Chelan's cutthroat are 12 to 14 inches at this time of year, but there are a few in the 15 to 17-inch range. Anglers can only keep "adipose fin marked/clipped" cutthroat, which are about 80 percent of those stocked. Unmarked cutthroat are intended to contribute to natural spawning production.
"For conservation purposes, I encourage anglers to use single point hooks for easier release and greater survival of unmarked fish," he said. "In my own experience, treble hooks can really do a number on fish and diminish their chances of survival. Using single point hooks does not drastically reduce hookup rates. You could also take it a step further and go barbless."
Maitland says Lake Chelan is also good for kokanee fishing in May. Boaters shouldn't have to go very far up lake to find the schools of kokanee, and although fish finding equipment is not necessary, it helps.
Kokanee are also starting to be harvested from Okanogan County's Spectacle Lake, which opened April 1. Fortier reports the first 80,000 kokanee fry were stocked in Spectacle in March of 2015 and they are now 10 to12-inch fish. Spectacle's kokanee fishing had not been productive earlier so anglers were targeting the lake's abundant perch fishery. But the kokanee catch is now on.
Fortier also notes the Green lakes northwest of Omak that opened March 1 are now providing consistent rainbow trout action.
Upper Antilon and Lower Antilon lakes northwest of Chelan provide good brown trout action in May.
"These fish should be primed and ready to bite the entire month of May," Maitland said. "Most should be in the 12 to 15-inch range with a smaller number of large fish that are up to and over 20 inches. Cast or troll spoons and spinners. Fly fishermen casting or trolling larger flies such as Wooly Buggers can do well."
Warmwater fish species: May is usually the month when opportunities improve for catches of black crappie, bluegill, channel catfish, green sunfish, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, tiger muskie, walleye, and yellow perch. But this year's winter and spring conditions may delay the bite a bit in some waters.
Maitland says as temperatures warm this month and next on Wapato, Roses, and Dry lakes near Manson in Chelan County, anglers can expect catches of good-sized largemouth bass, along with crappie, bluegill and yellow perch.
In Okanogan County, Fortier says panfish and bass in Leader, Patterson, and Palmer lakes will soon begin their more erratic springtime movements to stage for spawning.
"Anglers will need to sleuth out the locations of these fish in these waters," he said. "Expect perch to begin staging first, followed by crappie, bluegill and bass once water temperatures hit the mid-50-degree mark."
tch a fish, win a prize: WDFW's lowland lake trout derby continues in May and runs through Oct. 31. Anglers with an applicable 2017 freshwater or combination fishing license who catch one of some 900 tagged fish can claim prizes provided by license dealers across the state.