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  More to do Outside!

July 2017
Region 1: Eastern Washington
(Asotin, Columbia, Ferry, Garfield, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Spokane, Stevens,  Walla Walla and Whitman counties)
Largemouth bass from Sprague Lake.
Largemouth bass from Sprague Lake.
Photo by Rod Jones.

Warmwater/Mixed species: Most of the region's warmwater fish species are biting this month, many in mixed-species waters where trout are still caught in early morning or late evening hours. 

Randy Osborne, WDFW central district fish biologist, says Spokane County's Newman, Bonnie and Eloika lakes are good bets for largemouth bass, yellow perch, and black crappie.  Anglers can also find lots of bass and perch in Spokane County's Silver Lake.

Anglers at Liberty and Clear lakes in Spokane County are catching rainbow and brown trout, perch, crappie and bass.  Downs and Sprague lakes should also produce catches of really nice bass and rainbow trout.

Upper Twin Lake in Lincoln County has also been fairly productive, yielding catches of 14- to 15-inch rainbow trout, as well as a few bass and crappie.

"Fishing at Long Lake, also known as Lake Spokane, is really good right now for smallmouth bass and largemouth bass," Osborne said. "The lake is also still producing catches of the rainbow trout that we and Avista stocked annually for the last several years. This year's stocked trout are still fairly small, running 8 to 9 inches, but the carryovers from previous year's plants run about 16 to 19 inches."

With rising air temperatures predicted throughout the region, anglers fishing the early morning and late evening hours should continue to find active fish in the region's lowland trout lakes, including Spokane County's  Badger, Williams, Fish, and West Medical. Osborne notes that as heat persists and water temperatures rise, even the warmwater fish species in mixed-management waters will be more likely to bite early and late in the day.

Morning and evening fishing is also productive on many northeast district waters, according to Bill Baker, WDFW district fish biologist. Even lakes at high elevation, like the Little Pend Oreille chain of lakes in Stevens and Pend Oreille counties, provide more opportunities early and late in the day.

Lake Roosevelt, the Columbia River reservoir off Grand Coulee Dam, is usually good in July for walleye and smallmouth bass, Baker says. And several other mixed-species waters should also provide catches, including Deer Lake in southern Stevens County for smallmouth and largemouth bass, Curlew Lake in Ferry County for largemouth bass and yellow perch, Diamond Lake near Newport in Pend Oreille County for yellow perch, and Waitts Lake in southern Stevens County for yellow perch. 

Jeremy Trump, WDFW southeast district fish biologist, said the Snake and Palouse rivers are usually good this month for smallmouth bass, channel catfish, and black crappie. The Grande Ronde River in Asotin County and the Tucannon River in Columbia and Garfield counties can also provide fair fishing in July for bass, trout and other species, but water levels are dropping with warmer weather. Anglers and others recreating in the area of these and other streams are reminded to not place rocks instream to dam up flows and create pools because they block fish movement.

Top 10 bass waters:  Marc Divens, WDFW warmwater fisheries biologist, considers the Snake River to be one of the region's top 10 bass fishing waters. The other nine in that bass line-up are Boundary Reservoir and Box Canyon Reservoir in Pend Oreille County, Lake Roosevelt, Long Lake (or Lake Spokane), Sprague Lake, and four Spokane County lakes – Eloika, Downs, Liberty, and Silver.

"Try jigs and spinner baits, and fish around structures to land largemouth bass," Divens said. "Try drop shotting for smallmouth – drop your bait with a weight to suspend it right in front of the fish, whether you find them on your boat's depth finder or you cast into a spot where bass are likely to hang out."

Safety and fire restrictions: WDFW staff remind anglers to always wear life jackets when out on the water.

Also, keep the Fourth-of-July fireworks at home since they're prohibited year-round on all WDFW water access sites and wildlife areas statewide.

To further prevent wildfires, additional fire restrictions have been in effect since June 30 on all WDFW eastern Washington wildlife areas and water access sites. That means no fires, including campfires, of any kind; no smoking outside of vehicles; no use of chainsaws or welding equipment; and no operating motor vehicles of any kind off of developed roads and parking lots.  

WDFW Wooten Wildlife Area Manager Kari Dingman reminds anglers that Rainbow Lake, Campground 3, and the access road to Deer Lake all remain closed during the Rainbow Lake construction project this summer. She noted that fishing continues at the other Tucannon River impoundments on the wildlife area, but that action will likely slow down this month as air and water temperatures rise.

Hunter Education instructors teaching rifle skills to young boy.

Hunter education courses: Avoid the autumn rush and sign up now for a summer hunter education class. All hunters born after January 1, 1972, must complete a hunter education course to purchase a hunting license. WDFW offers both traditional and online options to complete the hunter education training requirement.

The traditional classroom experience includes practical exercises and live-firing activities taught by certified volunteer instructors. The online class offers the same content, but on the student's schedule. An in-person Field Evaluation Course is required with the online class for students to demonstrate what they have learned.

Male goose with a brood of goslings.
Photo by Jason Askim

Baby wildlife:  Everything from ducklings to moose calves are spotted throughout the region this month as young-of-the-year wildlife become more visible and independent. WDFW Swanson Lakes Wildlife Area Manager Juli Anderson reports multiple groups of Canada geese with goslings around the lakes on the area in Lincoln County. "Some of the goslings are large and colored like adults," she said, "and others are much smaller and still gray and fuzzy."

Anderson also reports seeing lots of mule deer does throughout the wildlife area, most with fawns tucked in the tall grass nearby.

Kari Dingman, WDFW Wooten Wildlife Area manager, reports both mule deer and white-tailed deer fawns running with does on the Columbia County property along the Tucannon River. "There are also young wild turkeys of various sizes, from chicks to poults, moving around the wildlife area now."

Wildlife viewers are reminded to keep their distance from young wildlife and use binoculars, scopes, and telephoto cameras lenses to enjoy them.

Birds: Every neotropical migrant bird species that moves into the region to breed is here. Although leafed out trees can make spotting even the most colorful of them difficult, hearing their songs can make up for it.

Listen, and watch, for black-headed grosbeaks; Bullock's orioles; Lazuli buntings; Swainson's thrushes; warbling vireos; western tanagers; western wood-pewees; willow flycatchers; Say's phoebes; MacGillivray's and yellow warblers; eastern and western kingbirds; house, rock and marsh wrens; song, chipping, savannah, vesper, and Lincoln's sparrows; tree, bank, violet-green, cliff, northern rough-winged, and barn swallows; and more.

WDFW Swanson Lakes Wildlife Area Manager Juli Anderson reports lots of yellow-headed blackbirds, and various shorebirds, including killdeer, yellowlegs, and black-necked stilts. The waterways on the Lincoln County area still have a mix of ducks and coots, but most of the large numbers of waterfowl that came through the area earlier this spring have moved further north to breed.

Butterflies and wildflowers: With all the winter and spring moisture, most of the region is in full wildflower bloom now, providing lots of foraging for butterflies.

Vetch, lupine, blanket flower, clarkia, wild onion, and yarrow blooms are brightening up the shrubsteppe habitats in the region. Wild rose, currant, thimbleberry, snowberry, milkweed, asters, and more are blooming in woodlands.

Swallowtails, fritillaries, whites, sulphurs, skippers, and nymphs are among the butterflies feeding on those and other flowers. Dozens of butterfly species are common throughout the region, and although each has its favorite nectar sources, usually flat surfaced yellow and white flowers draw them. Learn more at WDFW's butterflies webpage.

Bats: Bats are especially active at this time of year throughout the region, hunting down insects at sunset and through cooler night-time hours, especially near waterways or irrigated lawns and gardens where insects are usually abundant. Several species occur in the Eastern Region, but the most common is probably the Little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus).

Bats have an undeserved bad reputation for spreading disease, but only one percent carry the rabies virus. Close encounters with bats more often involve individuals that are not acting normally, so testing of those killed problem bats has resulted in a five to ten percent incidence of rabies. Never handle a live or dead bat without protective gear. Learn more about bats at WDFW's Living with Bats webpage.

Snakes: Snakes are active this month, and while most are harmless and interesting to encounter and photograph, rattlesnakes should be avoided. Hikers are encouraged to stay on well-used, open trails where snakes warming themselves during early morning hours can be more easily seen. In brushy areas, use a walking stick to alert a snake of your approach and wear over-the-ankle boots and loose-fitting long pants. More information is available on WDFW's "Living with Snakes" webpage.

Bears: Black bears are being seen in or near campgrounds and other outdoor recreation spots throughout the region as easy meals become more available and hotter conditions make natural food more scarce. All outdoor recreationists need to keep attractants, including garbage, out of reach and secure. More information is available on WDFW's  "Living With Bears" webpage.

Safety and fire restrictions: This year's abundance of water has produced an abundance of mosquitoes. "It's good for bats and swallows," said WDFW Swanson Lakes Wildlife Area Manager Juli Swanson, "but it's bad for humans. Ticks are still out, too. Bring the bug spray along on your wildlife viewing trips."

Keep the Fourth-of-July fireworks at home since they're prohibited year-round on all WDFW water access sites and wildlife areas statewide.

To further prevent wildfires, additional fire restrictions have been in effect since June 30 on all WDFW eastern Washington wildlife areas and water access sites. That means no fires, including campfires, of any kind; no smoking outside of vehicles; no use of chainsaws or welding equipment; and no operating motor vehicles of any kind off of developed roads and parking lots. 

Region One: Eastern Washington Region Two: North Central Washington Region Four: North Puget Sound Region Six: South Sound/Olympic Peninsula Region Five: Southwest Washington Region Three: South Central Washington