More than 50 eastern Washington lakes open to fishing March 1, and thanks to a mild winter and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) hatchery trout stocking efforts, they're ready for anglers.
Other eastside waters that are open all year to fishing also are being stocked with catchable trout at this time or are yielding catches from earlier trout fry plants.
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 also opens 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 1998 WDFW fishing regulations pamphlet, which is in effect through April 30, 1999. (Other lakes open to fishing the last Saturday of April or remain open all year.)
The Tucannon lakes will be well stocked with catchable size (10-to 12-inch) rainbow trout by the opener, says WDFW area fish biologist Glen Mendel. Hatchery fish are planted in batches over three months to spread out fishing opportunities. Many of the lakes also will receive some rainbows up to 2 pounds, including some Spokane Trout Hatchery broodstock. Specific stocking plans include:
|Big Four:||2,000 catchables||300-350 large rainbows|
|Blue:||20,000 catchables||350 large rainbows|
|Rainbow:||18,000 catchables||350 large rainbows|
|Spring:||10,000 catchables||350 large rainbows|
|Watson:||15,000 catchables||250 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.
Bennington Lake in Walla Walla County is a year-round water that will be stocked with 25,000 catchable rainbows later in March. Bennington also will receive 2,000 1.5-pound triploid (sterile) rainbows in April as a WDFW cooperative project with the local fishing club, the Tri-State Steelheaders.
Two juvenile-only year-round fishing waters in Walla Walla County will also be stocked now. Lyons Park Pond in College Place will receive 4,000 catchables and 200 large rainbows. Jefferson Park Pond in Walla Walla will receive 2,000 catchables.
Other southeast year-round waters receiving rainbow trout now include:
|Quarry Pond, Walla Walla County:||23,000 catchables|
|Dalton Pond, Franklin County:||20,000 catchables|
|Golf Course Pond, Asotin County:||22,000 catchables||300 large rainbows|
|West Evans Pond, Asotin County:||22,000 catchables||300 large rainbows|
|Silcott Pond, Asotin County:||4,000 catchables|
Coffeepot Lake in Lincoln County will get 5,000 catchable rainbows this spring. It was stocked with 15,000 over the last year and half, and many still should be in the lake. Coffeepot has a special two-trout daily catch limit (instead of the statewide standard of five) and selective gear rules (single barbless hook, no bait) although motor boats are allowed and there is a daily limit of two bass of 14 inches or less and ten crappie.
In the Columbia Basin, WDFW area fish biologist Jeff Korth predicts good fishing in many of the 40-plus lakes that are stocked with rainbow trout for the March 1 opening season. Specifically:
Warden and South Warden Lakes: Both were rehabilitated last fall, eliminating or reducing perch, sunfish and bullhead populations. This month Warden Lake received 30,000 catchable (8-10 inch) rainbows and 10,000 brown trout. South Warden received 1,000 catchable rainbows and 500 browns.
Upper/ Lower Hampton Lakes: Angling has been slow the past few years because these lakes were last rehabilitated during the fall of 1994; however, both lakes produced some nice carryovers last season. Upper Hampton received 20,000 fingerling (2-6 inch) rainbows and Lower Hampton received 8,000 fingerlings last year.
Pillar-Widgeon Lakes: These 10 walk-in fisheries are open to angling during the months of March and September. Although not as heavily fished as other Basin lakes, all of them are planted with 5-6 inch fingerlings in the spring and fall. Most lakes have a fair number of 10-12 inch yearlings, and a few whoppers.
Martha Lake: This year's fishery will be composed of 11,000 spring fingerling (2-3 inch) rainbows which have had a full year to mature in the lake. Last year's angling was slow, but very nice 14-16-inch fish were caught.
Upper, Lower, and West Caliche: The Caliche Lakes are still the best thing going on March 1. Yearlings are larger than expected (13-plus inches) and there was a fair carryover rate (10 percent at about 16-plus inches). Expect good fishing and crowds for all these lakes. Fingerling rainbow plants: Upper Caliche - 12,000; Lower Caliche - 6,000; West Caliche - 1,000.
Quincy and Burke Lakes: These lakes have been a disappointment for the past two or three years. Sunfish abound in Burke, but Quincy still appears to be clear of them. Quincy received 30,000 spring fingerlings (2-3 inch), and Burke received 10,000 spring fingerlings (2-3 inch), plus 10,000 fall fingerlings (5-6 inch). In addition, about 8,000 rainbow catchables (8-10" fish) have been stocked in each lake this month.
Dusty Lake: While a bit on the slow side for bank anglers (boats do much better), it's the ‘big fish syndrome' that creates a following for this lake. Yearlings averaged 12 inches, with mostly 16-17 inch carryovers and some 19-22 inch giants. Dusty received 10,000 rainbow trout fry and 3,000 brown trout this year.
Quincy Wildlife Management Area Walk-In Lakes: These small, get-away- from-the-crowd lakes are fairly consistent for 10 inch yearlings and a few carryovers. Specific rainbow stocking:
Lenice, Merry, and Nunnally Lakes: Expect fairly heavy turnout if the weather is at all decent. Unfortunately, sunfish have the upper hand in these lakes, and angler's averaged only three fish per trip last season. Rainbow yearling size is 12-13 inches; carryovers average about 15-16 inches and 10 percent of the catch. Last year's plant was normal -- 9,000, 3,000 and 13,000 rainbow respectively, with Lenice and Nunnally also each receiving 2,000 brown trout.
Lake Lenore: Lenore is catch-and-release March through May, and could be a little slow since the Lahontan cutthroat trout stocked here (40,000 annually) don't really seem to get active until April. Expect the small fish to average about two pounds and the larger 4-5 pounds. The record is almost 12 pounds.
Korth also noted that several year-round fishing waters that are annually stocked with trout fry are producing well now. These include the "seep lakes" south of O'Sullivan Dam on Potholes Reservoir, like Blythe, Canal, Corral, Hart, North Windmill and Windmill lakes.