More than 50 eastern Washington lakes open to fishing March 1 and some are now being stocked with trout by Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) hatchery crews.
Seven of the March-opening waters are man-made impoundments off the Tucannon River in southeast Washington's Columbia County. Coffeepot Lake in Lincoln County and Spectacle Lake in Okanogan County also open March 1. The rest of the March 1 opening waters are in central Washington's Columbia Basin, most in Grant County.
All are listed under "Special Rules - Eastside Lakes" in the 2000-2001 WDFW fishing regulations pamphlet, which is in effect through April 30, 2001.
The Tucannon lakes are still iced up but when they open they'll be well stocked with catchable size (1/3-pound) rainbow trout. Hatchery fish are planted in batches over three months to spread out fishing opportunities. Many of the lakes also will receive some larger, one-pound rainbows. Specific stocking plans include:
|Beaver||1,500 catchables|| |
|Big Four||2,500 catchables||300 large rainbows|
|Blue||21,000 catchables||300 large rainbows|
|Deer||3,000 catchables|| |
|Rainbow||24,000 catchables||300 large rainbows|
|Spring||11,000 catchables||300 large rainbows|
|Watson||15,000 catchables||300 large rainbows|
Anglers planning to fish the Tucannon lakes are reminded they have to wade the river to reach Big Four since it doesn't have a bridge. Deer Lake also is without bridge access, but it can be reached by walking a quarter mile up the road or wading the river. Watson Lake is accessible by disabled fishers via a bridge. Curl Lake along the Tucannon is closed until the last Saturday in April because it is used for salmon smolt acclimation.
Coffeepot Lake in Lincoln County is stocked annually with 5,000 catchable-size rainbow trout. Coffeepot should provide some excellent mixed species fishing, although anglers need to remember its special rules: two-trout daily catch limit (instead of the statewide standard of five), selective gear rules (single barbless hook, no bait) although motor boats are allowed, and daily limits of two bass of 14 inches or less and ten crappie.
Spectacle Lake, near Tonasket in Okanogan County, should provide good fishing on the opener if it is ice-free (anglers should check with the resorts on the lake for best current information.) According to WDFW district fish biologist Heather Bartlett, Spectacle was stocked with 25,000 5-6-inch rainbow trout last fall and will receive 30,000 catchable-size rainbows throughout this spring. Spectacle will also receive up to 3,500 triploid trout up to two pounds each later in the season.
In the Columbia Basin, WDFW district fish biologist Jeff Korth predicts good fishing in many of the 40-plus March 1-opening lakes that are stocked in fall and spring with rainbow trout. Many of these lakes are still frozen this year but are likely to open up by March 1 or shortly after (anglers can check current conditions at WDFW's Ephrata office at 509-754-4624.)
Korth predicts that Quincy and Burke lakes, south of Quincy in Grant County, will be the best bet, if the weather cooperates. These lakes were rotenone-treated in 1999 to rid them of sunfish, perch, and bass, then re-stocked with trout. "This should be their magic year," Korth said, with the first harvest of the 20,000 fingerling trout that each received last spring. Anglers can expect those trout to be 9 -10 inches now. There should also be a fair number of carryovers left from the catchable-size trout stocked last season.
Lenice and Nunnally lakes, south of Royal City in Grant County, were also rotenone-treated last spring and re-stocked with catchable-size trout that provided excellent fishing last season. Korth expects more of the same good fishing this season. Lenice is scheduled to receive 6,000 1/4-pound rainbows, 1,600 1/3-pound brown trout, 1,000 1-1/2-pound rainbows, 800 triploids at 2-1/2 pounds each, and 200 triploids at 5-1/2 pounds each. Nunnally will get 10,000 rainbow 1/4-pound rainbows, 2,700 1/3-pound brown trout, and 1,000 triploids at 2-1/2 pounds each.
Upper, LowerWest Caliche lakes, south of Quincy in Grant County, are usually among the most consistent fisheries, although they had a rough start last year. Yearling trout are always large (13 inches), and there is a fair carryover rate (about 10 percent at 16 inches or more). Korth hopes last year's season was an anomaly and that good fishing returns this season. Fingerling plants, all rainbow, were: Upper Caliche - 8,000; Lower Caliche - 6,000; West Caliche - 1,000.
Several of the Pillar-Widgeon lakes, south of Moses Lake, were very good for yearling rainbow last season and Korth expects them to produce well again. Although the fish are smaller than in other waters (8-9 inches), the scenery and serenity of this 10-lake area more than compensate. "They're an excellent choice for an angler with time and a float tube," says Korth. Waters are planted both spring and fall with larger, advanced fry. Pillar received a total of 4,000, Gadwall 1,000, Shoveler 2,000, Lemna 500, Poacher 500, Snipe 2,000, and Cattail 2,000. Sago, Hourglass, and Widgeon were not stocked, due to a washout on the access road, and so will probably have fewer, but larger, trout.
The Columbia National Wildlife Refuge lakes north of Othello – Upper and Lower Hampton, Hen, Dabbler, Marie, Slough, Dollar and Coot – have sunfish and probably some bass, but the catchable-size trout that can compete with them cannot be stocked on the refuge. Korth explained that a spring-fall fingerling stocking split was instigated to help reduce competition. Last year Upper Hampton received a total of 10,000 rainbows, Lower Hampton 8,000, Hen 1,000, Dabbler 500, Marie 1,000, Slough 400. The Hampton lakes will put out some nice carryovers, and the few yearlings caught will be large and fat (14 inches), but it takes a little more time; Korth reported that anglers usually have to spend an hour or more per fish.
The Quincy Wildlife Area walk-in lakes offer anglers a chance to explore the scabland and get a little exercise. Success rates vary lake to lake and season to season. Yearling rainbow trout range from 9 to 12 inches and carryovers can be found from 14 to 18 inches. Bass were discovered at Dot Lake last year, and may have spread to other waters by now. Cascade, Dot and Lower Spring lakes each received 500 fingerling rainbows, Scout 600, and Cliff, Crystal, Cup and Upper Spring each 1,000.
Martha Lake's fingerling rainbow trout survival was dismal last year, perhaps portending the return of dominant year classes of sunfish and goldfish, Korth said. (Martha Lake was last rehabilitated in March 1996). Anglers only averaged a half fish per pole last season. As is usual in the early stages of re-infestation, growth was good with 13-14-inch yearlings and 16-18-inch carryovers. This year's fishery will again be composed of 8,000 spring rainbow fingerlings, and if conditions permit, some catchable-sized (9-inch) rainbow may be added.
Dusty Lake also had poor trout fingerling survival and catch rates last season and Korth believes that's due to a massive population of speckled dace. Dusty received 10,000 rainbow trout fry last spring before this was known, so there might be a fish or two to be caught, but success is expected to be very low. Rehabilitation is planned for later this spring.
Lake Lenore is usually a little slow this time of year since the Lahontan cutthroat trout stocked there don't really seem to get active until April. Lenore should start to recover this year from the serious fish kills of 1998. Stocking rates were increased from 40,000 to 70,000 fingerlings in 1999 and 2000 to replace the lost fish. Fish stocked in 1999 should begin to enter the fishery as 2 year-olds at about 2-3 pounds each. Anglers need to remember that Lenore is catch-and-release March through May.