North Central Washington: April 1 opener: Dozens of the region's lakes open to fishing April 1, most in Adams and Grant counties of the Columbia Basin. All are expected to fish well on the opener, says Chad Jackson, WDFW Columbia Basin district fish biologist, "providing the weather cooperates."
These include lakes on the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge in the Pillar-Widgeon Chain (Pillar, Snipe, Cattail, Gadwall, Poacher, Shoveler, Lemna, Hourglass, Sago, and Widgeon lakes), and Upper and Lower Hampton lakes, and North and South Teal lakes. Jackson notes that Sago, Hourglass, Widgeon, and Upper and Lower Hampton were rehabilitated in 2014, re-stocked during the spring of 2015, and should provide good fishing for yearling rainbow trout ranging in size from 11-13 inches. Larger carryover trout will be available in those waters next year.
Often some of the best fishing on the April 1 opener is 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 there's 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 warmwater species fishing, Hutchinson and Shiner lakes on the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge in Adams County is also open on April 1. Both have lots of nice sized largemouth bass and are best fished from a small boat, canoe, or float tube/pontoon boat. Internal combustion motors are prohibited.
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 or Little Green, and Rat lakes
"With a moister snowpack this year, Okanogan County lakes are seeing much later ice melt dates than last year," Fortier said. "While later ice may require patience from anglers, the generous quantities of water at many Okanogan lakes should provide much better conditions than last summer. Remember that Rat Lake near Brewster and the Green Lakes near the city of Okanogan were rehabilitated last year and will be stocked with catchable trout when the ice melts."
April 23 opener: Many other fisheries throughout the region open April 23, 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 23-opening lakes to try 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 sized "carryovers" available.
Other open trout waters: 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.
Kokanee fishing on year-round-open Palmer Lake, north of Loomis in Okanogan County, usual heats up now with rising lake temperatures
Travis Maitland, WDFW Chelan/Douglas district fish biologist, says kokanee fishing is also improving this month at Lake Chelan.
"It looks as though we'll be having another great quality kokanee year with plump fish ranging in size from 12 to16 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. That's where they're more accessible to a wider range of anglers with all sizes of boats."
Warmwater fish species: This month is usually a good time to fish for walleye and perch in year-round-open Banks Lake, the Columbia River reservoir that stretches between Electric City and Coulee City near the Grant/Douglas county line. Anglers also usually find a few bass, burbot, and whitefish at Banks now.
Steelhead:The steelhead fishery closed March 31 on most of the mainstem and upper Columbia River, plus tributaries Wenatchee, Icicle, Entiat, Okanogan, and Similkameen rivers. But the Ringold Area Bank Fishery near the Tri-Cities runs April 1-15 for catch-and-release steelheading, with a daily limit of up to two hatchery-marked steelhead.