Eastern Washington: April 23 opener: Some of the region's best trout fishing will begin at the end of the month with the lowland lakes season opener on April 23.
Most waters around Spokane will be well-stocked and ready to go, including Badger, Clear, Fish, Fishtrap, West Medical, and Williams lakes, says Randy Osborne, WDFW central district fish biologist.
"A couple lakes that should fish especially well for the opener are West Medical near Medical Lake, and Fish Lake near Cheney," Osborne said. "The aeration system at West Medical helped keep lake conditions stable through the winter, and Fish Lake should be in pretty good shape, offering anglers brook trout, tiger trout, and a few carry-over rainbows and brown trout.
Many trout lakes in Ferry, Stevens, and Pend Oreille counties are also good bets on the April 23 opening day, said Bill Baker, WDFW northeast district fish biologist. They include Waitts, Cedar, Rocky, Mudgett, and Starvation lakes in Stevens County; Ellen Lake in Ferry County; and Diamond and Sacheen lakes in Pend Oreille County.
Opening day for Curl Lake in Columbia County will be delayed until May 15 to allow use of that Tucannon River impoundment for short-term acclimation of steelhead listed under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA). Curl Lake has long been used for ESA-listed spring chinook salmon, making it the only man-made lake in the area that opens later than March 1. The additional time needed to acclimate steelhead will delay the stocking of rainbow trout in Curl by a couple of weeks.
Other open trout waters: There's plenty of good trout fishing to be had in lakes that opened March 1 or that are open year-round.
Amber Lake in southwest Spokane County has been giving up some nice rainbow and cutthroat trout under selective gear rules (no bait, artificial flies and lures only, knotless nets). Fishing at Amber Lake is catch-and-release until April 23, when it shifts to a retention season with a daily limit of two trout measuring at least 14 inches. Rainbow trout with clipped adipose fins caught at Amber must be released even after April 23.
Liberty Lake, east of Spokane, started out slow after the March 1 opener, but has had increasingly good catches of brown and rainbow trout as the season progresses. Medical Lake, near the town of the same name in southwest Spokane County, has brown and rainbow trout.
In Lincoln County, Coffeepot Lake is producing rainbow trout, mostly on flies. Coffeepot is also under selective gear rules, with a minimum size limit of 18 inches and a daily catch limit of one trout. The boat launch at Coffeepot is still closed to launching boats from trailers due to low water conditions. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) closed the launch to prevent vehicles and boat trailers from getting stuck in the muddy conditions there. Anglers can still launch car-toppers and other watercraft that can be launched by hand. When conditions improve, the launch will be re-opened for trailered boat launching and announced on the BLM Spokane district office website.
Deer Lake in southern Stevens County is warming up since the March 1 opener and producing catches of rainbow and lake trout.
Year-round-open Long Lake (Lake Spokane) on the Stevens/Spokane county line is producing good catches of 13-15-inch rainbows. Anglers are also still catching rainbow trout and kokanee in year-round-open Lake Roosevelt.
Rock Lake, open year-round in Whitman County, is consistently a good spot for catches of both brown and rainbow trout. As of April 1, the access site parking area is improved with new gravel and grading.
The Tucannon River impoundments on WDFW's Wooten Wildlife Area in Columbia County have been producing nice rainbow catches since the March 1 opener. Area manager Kari Dingman notes that high river levels have kept Big Four Lake from being safely stocked, but the other lakes Blue, Deer, Rainbow, Spring and Watson are well-stocked with hatchery trout and being fished regularly.
Fish for a prize: April 23 also marks the start of WDFW's first lowland lake fishing derby, which runs through Sept. 6.
Kids' Fishing Event: April 20 is the deadline to register for the May 7 Kids' Fishing Event at Clear Lake in Spokane County.
Warmwater fish species: As fishing waters warm this month and next, opportunities for catches of warmwater species will improve, says WDFW warmwater fish biologist Marc Divens.
Eastern Spokane County's Liberty Lake can provide some of the earliest yellow perch and crappie fishing. Largemouth bass, crappie, and tiger muskie are warming up in eastern Spokane County's Newman Lake. Southwest Spokane County's Silver Lake has largemouth bass, bluegill, and tiger muskie. Downs Lake, east of Sprague in southwest Spokane County, has largemouth bass, yellow perch, and crappie.
Long Lake (Lake Spokane) on the Spokane-Stevens county line has both smallmouth and largemouth bass, perch, and crappie. Southern Stevens County's Deer Lake has bass, crappie and perch coming on. Box Canyon Reservoir on the Pend Oreille River in Pend Oreille County has smallmouth bass.
Fishing for walleye in the Spokane Arm of Lake Roosevelt is picking up now and will continue to get better through April.