Eastern Washington: Lake Roosevelt: February is a good time for both boat and shore anglers to fish Lake Roosevelt, the biggest Columbia River reservoir off Grand Coulee Dam that stretches along the Lincoln-Ferry and Ferry-Stevens county lines in the northeast district.
Roosevelt anglers have also been picking up some decent walleye in the Spokane Arm area of the reservoir, where it will just get better and better into spring. Osborne reminds anglers that the Spokane Arm is open year-round, with a daily catch limit of 16 walleye.
Winter-only trout lakes: Hog Canyon Lake in Spokane County and Fourth of July Lake on the Lincoln-Adams county line, open through March, have been fishing well. But with fluctuating weather conditions, ice may or may not be safe at any given time. Anglers need to check conditions carefully before venturing out on ice. Osborne reminds anglers that the daily catch limit at both lakes is five trout but only two over 14 inches may be retained.
WDFW Northeast District Fish Biologist Bill Baker of Colville says the region's other two winter-only fishing lakes Hatch and Williams in northern Stevens County continue to provide catches of rainbows through the ice. Hatch is the better lake this year, with good catch rates and rainbows up to 20 inches. Williams is not currently producing as well, Baker says, due to illegally introduced goldfish and smallmouth bass.
Both biologists remind anglers to "use common sense" while ice fishing. Repeated thawing and re-freezing can make ice unsafe.
Year-round-open waters: Spokane County's Eloika and Silver lakes are providing decent yellow perch fishing, although the perch in Silver Lake are pretty small six inches or less. Rock Lake in Whitman County has been fishing really well for rainbow trout and should also continue to give up some decent brown trout.
Columbia County's Blue and Spring lakes, which are impoundments off the Tucannon River on WDFW's Wooten Wildlife Area in the region's sout
Stevens County's Waitts Lake isn't actually year-round, but almost. Open since last April, Waitts closes at the end of February, so this month is the last chance to catch both trout and perch there, at least until it re-opens again this April.
Southeast rivers/steelhead: In the southeast district of the region, warmer weather has snow melting into valley rivers and streams, increasing flows and hazards for shoreline anglers after whitefish, trout, or hatchery steelhead. Anglers should check the fishing rules pamphlet for which portions of the Grand Ronde, Touchet, Tucannon, and Walla Walla rivers are currently open to fishing under mandatory hatchery steelhead retention rules and other regulations.
Since the first of January and through mid-April, the Grande Ronde River has been under the mandatory hatchery steelhead retention rule. Anglers are required to keep any hatchery steelhead they catch, up to three per day. The rule is designed to support wild steelhead recovery efforts in the region by helping to reduce the number of hatchery fish on the spawning grounds. Research has shown that hatchery fish are often less genetically diverse and can impact wild stocks through interbreeding or competition for food or habitat. Anglers must stop fishing for the day once they have retained their daily limit.
"Anglers can play a significant role in helping to rebuild wild stocks by removing hatchery fish and allowing a proportionally greater number of wild steelhead onto the spawning grounds," said WDFW regional fish manager Chris Donley. "That's not only important to recovery efforts in the region, but also to maintaining the current hatchery programs as well."