WDFW fish biologist Randy Osborne shows
what can be caught at Fourth of July Lake on Black Friday
Trout: WDFW Central District Fish Biologist Randy Osborne of Spokane reminds anglers that southwest Spokane County’s Amber Lake remains open through the end of November for catch-and-release, selective-gear fishing fo rainbow and cutthroat trout.
Osborne also notes that other lake fishing in the region continues this month at several waters that are open year-round. Good rainbow trout fishing is available now at Lake Spokane (Long Lake) and should get even better through the fall. Rainbow trout fishing is also good at Sprague Lake on the Lincoln/Adams county line; Osborne reminds anglers that Sprague’s five-trout daily catch limit includes the rule that only two trout over 20 inches may be retained.
Lake Roosevelt, the Columbia River reservoir off Grand Coulee Dam, provides some of the best year-round trout fishing for anglers willing to brave late fall/early winter conditions.
In the southeast district, while most of the Tucannon River impoundments on the Wooten Wildlife Area closed to fishing Oct. 31, Blue and Spring lakes remain open year-round. Both were just stocked with catchable rainbows in mid-October that should provide catches through the month and beyond.
For those who would rather be fishing than shopping on the day after Thanksgiving, two winter-only-season rainbow trout-stocked lakes open on “Black Friday,” Nov. 24, for special holiday catches. Fourth of July Lake on the Lincoln-Adams county line just south of the town of Sprague, has lots of catchable size rainbow trout available. This spring, Fourth of July received 60,000 rainbow trout fry and 20,000 rainbows that were two to 10 pounds at stocking and have grown to catchable size now. In Stevens County, Hatch Lake, five miles south of Colville, also opens on Nov. 24. This spring, Hatch was stocked with 10,000 rainbow fry that are now catchable size.
Anglers should note that both Hog Canyon Lake, which is 10 miles northeast of Sprague in Spokane County, and Williams Lake, which is 14 miles north of Colville in Stevens County – will not have a trout fishery this season, but will be re-stocked with trout next spring and provide fishing in the fall and winter of 2018-19. These lakes were treated with rotenone in October to remove species ranging from bass and bullhead to stunted panfish.
Mixed species: Waitts Lake in Stevens County is open through February and provides rainbow and brown trout, largemouth bass, and yellow perch.
Eloika Lake in north Spokane County is open year-round for largemouth bass, yellow perch, black crappie and some brown trout
Newman Lake in eastern Spokane County, and Silver Lake in southwest Spokane County, are also open year-round for largemouth bass, bluegill, crappie, perch, plus an occasional tiger muskie or eastern brook trout.
Steelhead: Due to extremely low returns of hatchery steelhead this year, most of the Snake River (from the mouth near the Tri-Cities to the Washington-Idaho state line at Clarkston) is open only to catch-and-release steelhead fishing. The stretch from Clarkston upstream to the Couse Creek boat ramp is open to daily retention of up to two hatchery steelhead less than 28 inches. The stretch from Couse Creek upstream to the Idaho-Oregon state line is open to daily retention of up to two hatchery steelhead of any size. See the rule change from mid-October for all details.
On the Grand Ronde and Tucannon rivers (Snake River tributaries) and on the Walla Walla and Touchet rivers (Columbia River tributaries), the daily catch limit is two hatchery steelhead. More details are available in those rule changes.
WDFW wildlife biologists check
hunter-harvested deer in the northeast district.
Photo credit: Rich Landers
Elk: Modern firearm elk hunting opened Oct. 28 and runs through Nov.5 throughout the region. In the northeast district, hunters can harvest any bull elk while in the southeast district they can hunt only spike bulls. Late archery and muzzleloader elk hunting seasons also get underway later this month (Nov. 20 or 25) in select units throughout the region.
The best opportunities in the region are in the southeast district of the Blue Mountains where there are more elk overall and traditionally milder winter weather. Unfortunately, the winter of 2016/2017 was uncommonly severe, resulting in a significant decline in elk. Calf numbers dropped to less than half the five-year average, which means fewer spike bulls this hunting season (spike bulls are the rule for the general season, with harvest of branch-antlered bulls regulated through the permit system). Game Management Unit (GMU) 166 has had the highest success rate for general season hunters recently, but also has one of the higher densities of hunters because it’s mostly U.S. Forest Service and WDFW-owned lands. A portion of the Wenaha-Tucannon Wilderness extends into this GMU and offers backcountry hunting opportunities.
Central district elk hunting is mostly on private lands in GMUs 124, 127, and 130 where success rates average 10 percent. However, elk appear to be expanding into new areas and harvest in GMUs 139 and 142 has been on the rise. Some of these appear to be elk that move back and forth between Idaho and Washington, so timing and access to private lands is key. Hunters on private lands in GMU 130 have the highest success, probably benefitting from animals moving on and off Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge.
Northeast district elk are widely scattered in small groups in dense forestland, making them both difficult to survey and to hunt. But northeast elk withstood last winter well, so opportunities may be decent in the Pend Oreille sub-herd area which includes GMUs 113 (Selkirk), 117 (49 Degrees North), and 111 (Aladdin). In those units, an average of three to four percent of modern firearm hunters are traditionally successful.
More detail on elk hunting prospects by WDFW district wildlife biologists is available in the 2017 Hunting Prospects. More detail on hunting access on private lands is available at Private Lands Hunting Access.
Deer: Late modern firearm white-tailed buck deer hunting is Nov. 11-19 in GMUs 105, 108, 111, 113, 117, 121, and 124 in the northeast and central districts. Whitetail breeding usually peaks at this time, so less wary bucks are traditionally more available. Many of the 20 to 30 percent of hunters who usually bag a deer in the northeast district are successful in this late season.
Deer hunter check stations will be conducted Nov. 18 on Hwy 2 near Chattaroy and Nov. 19 on Hwy. 395 near Deer Park to help provide information about success rates and deer body condition.
Hunters 65 and over, disabled, or youth (under 16) can harvest antlerless whitetails during the Nov.11-19 late season in special deer areas (1060, 1070, 1080) and any white-tailed deer in deer area 1050.
Late archery and muzzleloader deer hunting seasons also get underway later this month (Nov. 20, 22, or 25) in select units throughout the region.
Moose: Moose hunting, which is by special permit only, has been underway since the first of October in many game management units (GMUs) and continues through the end of November.
Wild turkey: Just in time to put a bird on the Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner table, late fall wild turkey hunting runs Nov. 20-Dec. 15 throughout the region (GMUs 105-154 and 162-186). As usual, the big birds are abundant across nearly all of the region.
Upland game bird: Pheasant, quail, partridge and forest grouse hunting continues throughout the region. Wet conditions should provide good scenting conditions for bird dogs and forecasted snow could hold birds more and provide easier tracking. Farm-raised rooster pheasants will be released a couple more times this month at several release sites throughout the region (site details available at the Eastern Washington Pheasant Enhancement Program webpage.) Forest grouse hunting season closes Dec. 31. Pheasant, quail and partridge seasons close Jan. 15.
Waterfowl: Duck and goose hunting continues throughout the region, although some of the best is probably still ahead when northern migrants drop in to boost locally-produced duck and goose numbers. November is the month when extra goose hunting days are available in management area 4, including Spokane, Lincoln and Walla Walla counties. Normally goose hunting is only allowed on Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays, but Friday, Nov. 10, (day before Veterans Day) and the Thursday and Friday of Thanksgiving holiday (Nov. 23-24) are also open.
More details on hunting prospects by WDFW district wildlife biologists are available in the 2017 Hunting Prospects. More details on hunting access on private lands are available at Private Lands Hunting Access. More details on hunting rules are available in the Hunting Seasons and Regulations pamphlets.
Rough-legged hawks are among those birds
migrating into or through the area this month.
Photo credit: Tom Munson
Birds: November’s changing weather and shortening daylight hours bring lots of bird movement throughout the region. New winter resident birds are arriving and migrants are making stopovers, so birdwatchers never know what they might see from day to day at this time of year.
The region’s large waterways, including the Snake, Spokane, and Pend Oreille rivers, are good bets for seeing ducks, geese and other waterbirds. Those riparian areas are also used during migration by raptors and smaller passerines. The Tucannon River, which winds through the Wooten Wildlife Area in Columbia County, is a good bird-watching spot and fall tree color is at a peak; Wooten visitors are advised that the campground near Rainbow Lake is still closed for construction work, but should be open by the end of the month.
The usual patrons of backyard bird feeding stations, including finches, juncos, chickadees, and nuthatches, are showing up where meals are offered or water provided. Some have been summer residents, but more are moving in from further north. Several woodpecker species that normally feed on insects may be attracted to suet feeders. More information about maintaining healthy bird feeding stations is available at WDFW’s Winter Bird Feeding webpage.
Deer: With the peak of both white-tailed and mule deer breeding season (or rut) in mid-November, this is the time to view antlered bucks vying for dominance over other bucks or seeking does. Buck deer can be less wary of virtually everything else at this time, so viewing may be easy from a roadside. Motor vehicle collisions with deer increase at this time, not just because the deer are less wary but because shortened daylight hours simply have more motorists on the roads in the dark.
Salmon: November is the time when land-locked or non-migrating sockeye salmon, better known as kokanee or sometimes silver trout, spawn in Pend Oreille County’s Harvey Creek. WDFW northeast district fish biologist Bill Baker says the fish can usually be seen near the bridge on the south end of Sullivan Lake, northeast of the town of Ione off Sullivan Lake Road.