February 24, 1998
Contact: Madonna Luers, (509) 456-4073
Eastside lakes ready for March 1 fishing opener
SPOKANE -- Eastside lakes are ready for anglers to begin fishing March 1
thanks to a mild winter and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW)
hatchery trout stocking.
Seven of the 54 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 for the first time this year since public access now
is available with a recent Bureau of Land Management (BLM) property acquisition. The
rest are in central Washington's Columbia Basin, most in Grant County.
Usually these lakes are more likely to be ice-free by March than other eastside
lakes, which either open to fishing the last Saturday of April or remain open all year.
This year's extremely mild winter left most fishing waters open and made for easier
hatchery stocking. As a result, WDFW fish biologists say, the March 1 opener should
be a productive one.
The Tucannon lakes should all be filled and stocked with catchable (10 to 12
inch) rainbow trout by the opener, says WDFW area fish biologist Glen Mendel.
Beaver and Watson lakes now are accessible by disabled fishers via a new bridge. Beaver is being stocked with a total of 2,000 catchable rainbows. Watson is getting a total of 15,000 catchables, plus about 50 rainbow broodstock (about 2.5-
Big Four Lake no longer has bridge access, but the Tucannon River's low
levels make it relatively easy to wade. Big Four gets a total of 2,000 catchables and
about 50 rainbow broodstock. Deer Lake also has no bridge access, but fishers can
walk a quarter mile up the road or wade the river to reach it. Deer is getting 5,000
Blue Lake gets 20,000 catchables, Rainbow Lake gets 18,000 catchables, and Spring Lake gets 10,000 catchables. Each of these also gets about 50 broodstock.
Coffeepot Lake was stocked with 10,000 catchable rainbow trout last fall and is
getting 5,000 more this spring. It has a 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. Coffeepot also has a special daily catch limit of two
bass of 14 inches or less and ten crappie.
In the Columbia Basin, WDFW area fish biologist Jeff Korth predicts especially
good fishing at the Caliche lakes, Martha Lake, the Hampton lakes, the Pillar-Widgeon
chain of lakes, as well as Warden, Burke, Quincy, Dusty and other walk-in Quincy-area
lakes. The selective fishery lakes Lenice, Merry and Nunnally along with catch-
and-release Lenore Lake, may be slower with better fishing later in the season. More
Warden and South Warden Lakes: The perch population in these trout lakes has the upper hand, so the spring stocking was cut back to decrease competition and larger fall-stocked rainbow were added. Catchables are being stocked in both lakes to
provide better fishing. Some brown trout lunkers also swim in Warden's depths, gorging
themselves on perch. Fry plants in Warden Lake included 55,000 spring rainbow; 39,000 fall rainbow and 20,000 brown trout in 1997 and 25,000 spring catchable rainbow this year. In South Warden 12,000 rainbow and 2,000 brown trout were planted.
Upper/ Lower Hampton Lakes, Slough, Hen, Dabbler, Marie, Dollar, Coot
Lakes: These waters (except Dollar and Coot) were rehabilitated in the fall of 1994, but
poor fishing in past seasons suggests further problems. Cormorant predation is
suspected, so another late-fall stocking was added after the birds left for the season.
No catchable plants are allowed on the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge, but the late-
fall planted fry should provide catches.
Pillar-Widgeon Lakes: Although not as heavily fished as other Basin lakes, all
of these waters are planted both spring and fall with larger fry. Fish-eating birds can
wreak havoc on these small lakes but the fish that remain are large.
Martha Lake: Rehabilitation in March, 1996, eliminated sunfish and goldfish.
This year's fishery will be composed of 11,000 spring rainbow fry which have had a full
year (and mild winter) to mature in the lake. Expect very good fishing for 9-11 inch
Upper, Lower, and West Caliche: These lakes have been the best thing going
for past openers and should be again this year. Yearlings still run larger than expected
(13+ inches) and there was a fair carryover rate. Fry plants, all rainbow, were 10,000 in
Upper Caliche; 5,000 in Lower Caliche and 1,000 West Caliche.
Quincy and Burke Lakes: These lakes have been disappointments for the past
two or three years but with heavy stocking should provide fair fishing this year. Quincy
appears free of sunfish but there are many in Burke. Quincy was planted with 30,000
spring fingerling rainbow trout. Burke was planted with 20,000 spring fingerling rainbow
trout and 10,000 rainbow trout fall fingerlings. Approximately 10,000 catchable rainbow
trout also will be stocked in each lake before the opener.
Dusty Lake: A few big fish per angler is the attraction here, at least for those
who stick around awhile. About 50 percent of the fish caught here are 15-20 inch
carryovers, with yearlings averaging 12 inches. Dusty may be suffering from a dace
infestation; anglers will be asked by creel census personnel if they favor rehabilitation
with rotenone. The lake was planted with 15,000 rainbow fry and 3,000 fingerling
Quincy Wildlife Management Area Walk-In Lakes: These small lakes are fairly
consistent for 10 inch yearlings and a few carryovers. Pretty good fishing for the angler
who wants to get away from the crowd. Fish stocked as follows:
Lenice, Merry, and Nunnally Lakes: Anglers averaged a fish or two per trip in
last season's poor weather. Expect fairly heavy turnout if the weather is decent.
Yearlings are 12-13 inches, and carryovers average about 15-16 inches. Sunfish are
becoming a problem in these waters and Nunnally seems to be a bit more inconsistent
than Lenice. However, both lakes still have their good days. Last year's plant was
9,000, 3,000 and 13,000 rainbow respectively. Lenice and Nunnally each received
2,000 brown trout.
Lake Lenore: Lenore is catch-and-release March through May, and could be a
little slow since the Lahontan cutthroat stocked here (40,000 annually) don't seem to
get active until April. Expect the small fish to average about 2 pounds, and the larger 4-
5 pounds. The record is almost 12 lbs.