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November 2017
Region 2: Northcentral Washington
(Adams, Chelan, Douglas, Grant and Okanogan counties)
Fisherman holding the Lahontan cutthroat trout he caught fishing on Lake Lenore.
November is a good month to catch
Lahontan cutthroat trout at Lake Lenore.

Photo credit: Rich Landers

Trout: Fall fishing opportunities for trout are available throughout the region in year-round-open waters and at lakes under selective gear regulations that close at the end of November. 

In the Columbia Basin, the year-round-open Seep Lakes outside of the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge, including Canal, Heart and Windmill, have decent rainbow trout fishing in early November.    

Year-round-open Homestead Lake, north of Moses Lake, has 20-inch-plus brown trout along with smaller rainbows. It’s under selective gear rules and a catch limit of one trout per day. Also open year-round is the Desert Lake Chain within WDFW's Columbia Basin Wildlife Area, including Harris, Sedge, Tern, and Dune lakes, all under selective gear rules. 

Open through Nov. 30 in the Columbia Basin are  Dusty, Dry Falls, Lenice, Merry, and Nunnally lakes, all under selective gear rules and one-fish catch limits, and all excellent for trout this month. Lake Lenore, just north of the town of Soap Lake, is best in the fall for its Lahontan cutthroat trout that often run up to or more than 30 inches; it’s also under selective gear rules, a one fish catch limit, and closes Nov. 30.  

In Okanogan County, Bonaparte Lake is open year-round and has fair fishing this month for brook, tiger, and rainbow trout, plus kokanee. Okanogan County’s catch-and-release trout waters – Upper or Big Green, Lower or Little Green, and Rat lakes – shift to catch-and-keep on Dec. 1.

WDFW crews are still conducting prescribed burns in the Sinlahekin Wildlife Area in Okanogan County this month to improve forest health and wildlife habitat and to reduce the impact of wildfires. Although the crews are making every effort to be considerate of outdoor recreationists with a minimum of smoke and road congestion on weekends, weather determines when they can take advantage of times for optimal burning conditions.

Ring-necked pheasant in field.
Pheasant hunting continues throughout the region this month.
Photo credit: Justin Haug

Elk: Modern firearm elk hunting opened Oct. 28 in several Game Management Units (GMUs) in the region. The season runs through Nov. 5 in GMU 204 for any bull, GMU 249 for spike bull, and GMU 251 for true spike bull. The season runs through Nov. 15 in GMUs 203, 209-248, 250, 254-272, 278, 284 and 290 for any elk.  

The northcentral region overall is not home to large elk herds. Most elk harvest is in Chelan County, which includes part of the Colockum herd, especially GMU 251 (Mission). Eastern Okanogan County (GMU 204) and some parts of Douglas County also provide fair elk hunting.

Late archery elk hunting season for any elk also got underway Oct. 28 and runs through Nov. 15 in select units (203, 209-248, 250, 254-272, 278, 284, and 290) where archery hunters must wear hunter orange because of the overlap with modern firearm season. An even later archery elk season runs Nov. 25-Dec. 8 in GMU 204 for any bull.

Deer: Late archery deer hunting runs Nov. 21-30 for three-point-minimum mule deer bucks in GMUs 209, 215, 233, 243, and 250. GMUs 272 and 278 are open Nov. 20 through Dec. 8 for three-antler-point-minimum or antlerless mule or white-tailed deer. Archers can also hunt any white-tailed deer Nov. 22 through Dec. 15 in GMUs 204, 209, 215, 233, and 243.

Some of the best archery deer hunting in the region is in Okanogan County – mostly for mule deer, although white-tailed deer are also abundant, particularly in GMUs 204 (Okanogan East) and 215 (Sinlahekin). GMUs 204 and 233 are currently managed in the short-term for stable to slightly decreasing deer populations in the wake of wildfire impacts a few years ago. Harvest success rates are anticipated to be near the 2016 numbers – 26 percent in GMUs 204 and 209 (Wannacut),19 percent in GMU 233 (Pogue), and 18 percent in GMU 215.

Archers in the Columbia Basin GMUs 272 (Beezley) and 278 (Wahluke) last year had 18-20 percent success rates and should do as well this year. Chelan County traditionally has good mule deer hunting on public lands, although last winter’s persistent snow depths on winter range reduced the population by about 25 percent. Last year archers in GMUs 243 (Manson) and 250 (Swakane) had 10-15 percent success rates.

Waterfowl: Duck and goose hunting continues throughout the region, with some of the best still ahead when northern migrants drop in to boost locally-produced duck and goose numbers. This month’s migration will bring the best waterfowl hunting in the Columbia Basin, with large numbers of mallards, wigeon, gadwalls, teal, scaup, redheads, and canvasbacks.

November is when goose hunting usually improves in the Basin, with early season migrant Canada geese (Lesser and Taverner’s) beginning to scatter from their staging area at Stratford Lake to alfalfa or grain fields within feeding distance from Moses Lake and the Columbia River.

Hunters can also take advantage of extra goose hunting days this month in management area 4, which includes all of the northcentral region. 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.

One of the more popular waterfowl hunting areas in the Columbia Basin district is Potholes Reservoir, where an increasing number of snow geese can be seen as the season advances. Hunters pursuing those birds should focus efforts on the surrounding grain fields south of Interstate 90.

Other hunt areas on private land with access limited by on-site registration are detailed on the WDFW Waterfowl Quality Hunt Program and Columbia Basin Corn Stubble Hunting Access webpages.

Upland game bird: Hunting for pheasants, quail, partridge and forest grouse continues throughout the region. Forecasted rain and snow this month should provide excellent scenting conditions for bird dogs. Information about private “Feel Free to Hunt,” “Register to Hunt,” and other access programs is available on the WDFW Private Lands Hunting Access webpage.

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 season closes Dec. 31. Pheasant, quail and partridge seasons continue through Jan. 18.

Wild turkey: Special permit-only wild turkey hunting runs Nov. 15 through Dec. 15 in Okanogan County’s GMUs 218-231 and 242.

More detail on 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. More detail on hunting rules is available in the Hunting Seasons  and Regulations pamphlets.

WDFW crews are still conducting prescribed burns in the Sinlahekin Wildlife Area in Okanogan County this month to improve forest health and wildlife habitat and to reduce the impact of wildfires. Although the crews are making every effort to hold the smoke and road congestion to a minimum on weekends, weather determines when they can take advantage of times for optimal burning conditions. 

Flocks of migrating birds on half-frozen lake.
Mallards, geese and other waterfowl
are coming into and through the region now.

Photo credit: Justin Haug

Birds: November is a great time for a road trip through the Columbia Basin with binoculars and spotting scopes to watch incoming and outgoing migratory ducks and geese. Large numbers of mallards, wigeon, gadwalls, teal, scaup, redheads, and canvasbacks typically arrive in the Basin this month.  The diving ducks -- canvasbacks, redheads and scaup --  are found along the Columbia River, particularly at Wells Pool, Wanapum Pool, and Priest Rapids Pool.

Salmon: November is the month to watch Coho salmon returning to Beebe Creek near Chelan to spawn. WDFW Chelan Wildlife Area manager Ron Fox says that Coho and their redds, or spawning gravel beds, are visible from the bridges spanning Beebe Creek and from two viewpoints that provide close access to the creek. Returning Coho numbers usually peak in mid-November.

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 as easy as from a roadside. But motorists need to be extremely cautious when the deer are not. 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.

WDFW crews are still conducting prescribed burns in the Sinlahekin Wildlife Area in Okanogan County this month to improve forest health and wildlife habitat and to reduce the impact of wildfires. Although the crews are making every effort to be considerate of outdoor recreationists with a minimum of smoke and road congestion on weekends, weather determines when they can take advantage of times for optimal burning conditions. 

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