Discover Eastern Washington

Hills and trees reflected in a lake

Counties served: Asotin, Columbia, Ferry, Garfield, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Spokane, Stevens, Walla Walla, and Whitman

Director: Steve Pozzanghera

2315 North Discovery Place
Spokane Valley, WA 99216-1566

Email: TeamSpokane@dfw.wa.gov

Telephone: 509-892-1001

October fishing tips and news

A little boy holds a trout
Bobbie Stallings

Steelhead/salmon

Steelhead and fall Chinook seasons are in full swing. If you plan to fish them, please check the emergency rules for the area and species you plan to fish for as there are multiple rules for the Snake (fall chinook and steelhead) and for steelhead in tributaries (Touchet, Walla Walla, Tucannon, and Grande Ronde). 

Trout/mixed species

October can be a great time to fish many of the region’s trout lakes, rivers and streams. Randy Osborne, WDFW’s central District Fish Biologist, reports some Spokane County trout lakes closed Sept. 30, but there are lots of other options going into winter.

"Clear Lake provides rainbow and brown trout, bass, and other fish through October,” Osborne said. “Amber Lake (under selective gear rules) remains open through November, providing opportunity to catch rainbow and cutthroat trout. Medical Lake, another selective gear rule lake, is also open through November and has great opportunity for rainbow and brown trout.”

The public access area for Spokane County’s Liberty Lake closed early this year, in September, to complete a construction project to improve it.

Good fishing for bass and panfish continues at year-round lakes like Spokane County’s Silver and Newman lakes. Biologists electrofished Newman Lake recently, a method used to survey fish populations and health. Here is what they caught and how electrofishing lets WDFW survey local fish populations.

Lake Roosevelt, the Columbia River reservoir off Grand Coulee Dam, has good action for big rainbows and walleye this time of year, especially in the northernmost reaches of the reservoir.

After being closed due to the proximity of wildfire, the Wooten Wildlife Area near the town of Dayton is now open, which means the lakes there are also reopen for fishing.

Fire restrictions lifted

If you camp near where you fish, good news regarding camp fires and other seasonal activities on WDFW lands. The emergency rule enacted in late June for Eastern Washington prohibiting campfires, target shooting, chainsaw use, and operating vehicles off of established roads ended on Sept. 30. 

October hunting news

Three mule deer

Planning your hunt

October is prime time for hunting, with various seasons opening throughout the state, including deer and elk, ducks, and geese. Due to wildfires this summer, if you usually hunt private property, please check with property owners before heading out. Some private properties in eastern Washington were impacted by fire.

Also be sure to check this year’s rules in the 2021 Big Game Hunting pamphlet or the Game bird and Small Game pamphlet before going hunting. WDFW’s Hunting Prospects guide and past Game Harvest Reports can be helpful in determining where to hunt. The hunting regulations web map for the 2021-22 hunting seasons is also helpful. It helps hunters find permit and general season hunts based on location, date, and weapon choice.

Modern firearm deer

The general season for modern firearm hunting for both white-tailed and mule deer begins Oct. 16. The region’s best white-tailed deer hunting is in District 1, in Ferry, Stevens, and Pend Oreille counties. White-tailed deer are the most abundant in that district while mule deer are usually harvested in GMUs 101 and 121.

If you hunt in northeast Washington GMU’s 105, 108, 111, 113, 117, 124, 127, please have your harvested white-tailed deer tested for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) at one of our check stations or other testing locations. CWD is a fatal neurologic disease of deer, elk, and moose. It is caused by an infectious prion protein transmitted directly from animal to animal or indirectly through contaminated environments. It has not been detected in Washington to date but has been in 26 states- the closest being Montana- and 4 Canadian Provinces. 

In Spokane, Lincoln and Whitman counties, there is almost equal hunting opportunities for both white-tailed and mule deer, although most of it is on private property, where securing permission is key. The best white-tailed hunting is usually in GMUs 124 and 127. The best mule deer hunting is in GMUs 136, 139, and 142.

The southeast district, made up of Asotin, Garfield, Columbia and Walla Walla counties, is best known for mule deer. GMUs with the highest success rates-145, 149, 178, and 181- also have the most private land so access can be limited. GMUs 166 and 175 have the most public land but also the lowest success rates, in part due to high hunter numbers.

Most areas of Eastern Washington have been impacted by deer hemorrhagic disease (Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease and Bluetongue) this summer and fall, which could make it more difficult to find a deer to harvest. EHD and Bluetongue are common viral diseases of white-tailed deer. Symptoms include lethargy, disorientation, lameness, or being unresponsive to the presence of humans. Humans are not affected by either the EHD or Bluetongue viruses. However, we recommend not consuming animals that are obviously sick.

Modern firearm elk

The modern firearm general season for elk starts in late October in eastern Washington. The best opportunities are in the southeast district of the Blue Mountains where there have traditionally been more elk overall and milder winter weather. GMU 166 has had the highest success rate for general season hunters in recent years, but also one of the higher densities of hunters because it is made up mostly of public lands.

Central district elk hunting is mostly on private lands in GMUs 124, 127, and 130, with harvest numbers increasing in GMUs 139 and 142. Hunters on private lands in GMU 130 have the highest success, probably due to its proximity to the Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge.

The best elk hunting in northeast Washington is in the Pend Oreille sub-herd area, which includes GMUs 113, 117, and 111.

Bear identification test

Bear season continues through Nov. 15. If you plan to hunt bear in GMUs 101, 105, 108, 111, 113, 117, 203, 204, 209, 215, 418, or 426, you must successfully complete the WDFW bear identification test first, or an equivalent test from another state and carry proof of successful completion.

While grizzly bears are rare in Washington, a small population exists in northeast Washington, and their presence has also been documented in the Okanogan Highlands and the North Cascades. Hunters in these areas are also strongly encouraged to carry bear spray while hunting.

Moose

Moose hunting starts in October and takes place in the region’s northeast district, all by special permits that were drawn from last spring’s applicants.

Sealing your harvested animal

When you harvest a bighorn sheep, bobcat, mountain goat, or river otters this season, you must schedule an inspection for pinning or sealing through the Region 1 WDFW office by calling 509-892-1000. In addition to scheduling your inspection, we require that you practice physical distancing and wear a face covering to your inspection.

Upland game bird

Hunting begins Oct. 2 for chukar and gray (Hungarian) partridge. These birds are mostly found along the Snake River and throughout the grasslands of Asotin County.

The general season for pheasant hunting starts Oct. 23 in eastern Washington, with most of the action in Whitman County and south of the Snake River. In addition to wild birds, pheasant hunting opportunities are enhanced with releases of farm-raised roosters at sites across the region. Details can be found at on the Eastern Washington Pheasant Enhancement Program web page.

Quail hunting opens October 2 in eastern Washington.

Waterfowl

Duck and goose hunting opens in mid-October, but the best hunting in the region doesn’t kick in until late October or November. Mallards and Canada geese are most often harvested but wood ducks that nest in the Pend Oreille, Colville, and Kettle river valleys are good for early season hunting. Canada geese are abundant throughout the season in the Pend Oreille, Colville, Kettle, Columbia, Spokane, and Snake river valleys, especially in the bottom areas where there is extensive farmland.

A special Eastern Washington youth-only waterfowl hunt is Oct. 2 this year. That includes Canada and White-fronted geese, ducks (including Scaup), and coots.

Hunter’s Education

WDFW hunter education classes resumed in-person in August, with options for full in-person and hybrid courses. All hunters must pass a hunter education safety course before hunting on their own. Washington honors all 50 states hunter education certifications. Hunter’s Ed reinforces important firearm and hunting safety principles, hunting ethics, basic survival and first aid, wildlife identification and conservation.

While both in-person and hybrid class formats are beneficial for all students, we highly recommend in-person instruction for students under 12. All volunteers and instructors involved in these classes follow state COVID safety protocols.

Seasonal fire restrictions lifted

If you camp out during hunting season, good news regarding campfires and other seasonal activities on WDFW lands. The emergency rule enacted in late June for Eastern Washington prohibiting campfires, target shooting, chainsaws and vehicle off of established roads ended on September 30. 

Wildlife viewing

Trees changing to fall colors

EHD and Bluetongue impacting area deer

During your adventures, you may happen upon a sick or dead deer. Many cases of deer hemorrhagic disease (Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease and Bluetongue) have been confirmed recently across eastern Washington. EHD and Bluetongue are common viral diseases with very similar symptoms. They are different in that white-tailed deer get EHD, while Bluetongue is a well-known disease of domestic sheep, cattle, and goats, in addition to affecting deer. 

Deer in the early stages of hemorrhagic disease may appear lethargic, disoriented, lame, or unresponsive to the presence of humans. EHD is caused by biting Culicoides gnats (commonly known as midges) that transmit the viruses. The gnats are found in wet, muddy areas where deer may congregate during late summer and early fall, especially in unusually warm, dry years. Currently, there is no treatment for animals infected with EHD or Bluetongue and no way for humans to help them.

Sharing space with hunters

If you watch birds, hike, camp or do other recreational activities, be aware that a number of hunting seasons are underway throughout the region. While the majority of hunters follow safety rules and carefully verify their targets, non-hunters can help to avoid accidents by wearing hunter’s orange clothing and making their presence known to hunters.

Seasonal fire restrictions lifted

If you camp near where you fish, good news regarding campfires and other seasonal activities on WDFW lands. The emergency rule enacted in late June for Eastern Washington prohibiting campfires, target shooting, chainsaws and vehicle off of established roads ended on September 30. 

The Wooten Wildlife Area, closed this summer by wildfire, is open for you to explore again, although it continues to be very dry as the area didn’t receive rain recently like other parts of the state did. So if you go there, be very fire wise.

Choose your own adventure

Our latest Life Outdoors article is all about celebrating National Public Lands Day (NPLD). The nation's largest single-day volunteer event for public lands, NPLD fells on Sept. 25 this year and is organized by the National Environmental Education Foundation. This celebration sees thousands of volunteers help restore and improve public lands around the nation.

You can find this and other informative blog posts, recreational opportunities in your area, links to state and federal lands to explore, and more on our Life Outdoors page.

Habitat at Home

Create an edible garden with native plants

Strawberries, green onions, and salad greens are just a few of the delicious vegetable garden staples that have native alternatives to benefit both you and wildlife!

Growing native edible plants is ideal for those who:

  • Enjoy eating food
  • Like saving money, water, and time
  • Want to contribute to wildlife conservation

Native plants are a great choice for many reasons. First, they are adapted to the natural rainfall, climate, and soil of the area and as a result tend to be very low maintenance. This means you won’t have to spend as much time and money on watering and caring for your garden.

Additionally, these plants have co-evolved with native wildlife species and are best suited for supporting these species. One drawback of planting non-native plants is that they often don’t support insect species during all life stages. Studies have shown that caterpillar and bird abundance and overall biodiversity are significantly higher in urban gardens that are filled with native plants compared to gardens without native plants. By using native plants, you are helping to support a more robust insect population, which is critical to pollination and the support of many other wildlife species such as birds.

Keep in mind that some species will require you to plant more than one for them to reproduce via pollination. Research your plants ahead of time to gain a better understanding of what will work best for you. Most native plants will come back year after year with no need to replant. If you decide to grow a native edible garden this year, show us how you did! Use the hashtag #habitatathome to share your photos with us on social media.

Strawberries

Close up of wild strawberry plant
Peter Pearsall, USFWS

Coastal strawberry (Fragaria chiloensis), woodland strawberry (Fragaria vesca), and wild or blue-leaved strawberry (Fragaria virginiana) are three great native alternatives to traditional strawberries. In fact, the coastal strawberry is one of two varieties that were hybridized to create the modern supermarket strawberry. Coastal and wild strawberries are drought tolerant and prefer full sun and well-drained soils. Woodland strawberries do great in semi-shade under trees and shrubs. If you’d like to make full use of the plant, add the young leaves to salads and soups!

Onions

Close up of nodding onion (Allium cernuum)

The nodding onion (Allium cernuum) is a delicious and stunning alternative to green onions. The entire plant is edible (raw or cooked), including the flowers! It’s a drought-tolerant plant often found in prairies and rocky bluffs. It prefers full sun and well-drained soil. It blooms in early summer, but you can harvest it for food year-round, though it will die back in the winter. The nodding onion is equally as beautiful as it is delicious and can be used ornamentally in your yard.

Lettuce

Close up of miner's lettuce

Miner’s lettuce (Claytonia perfoliata) is an easy-going plant that can be the main ingredient in your salads. It is thin and crunchy and has a mild sweetness to it. Like other lettuce plants, it is shade tolerant and will become bitter in taste if exposed to too much direct sunlight. It’s great eaten raw or cooked like spinach, and the whole plant is edible!

Share your backyard wildlife photos

We want to see what birds and other wildlife visit your habitat. Share your photos or videos with us at wdfw.wa.gov/share and select the category “Wildlife Viewing”. 

Meet your Regional Director: Steve Pozzanghera

Steve Pozzanghera, Eastern Region Director
Steve Pozzanghera, Eastern Region Director

Steve Pozzanghera is the Eastern Region (Region 1) Regional Director for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Prior to taking the Regional director position in Spokane, Steve served as the Department’s first Carnivore Section Manager working in the Wildlife Program in Olympia. He then became the Deputy Assistant Director of the Wildlife Program before making the move to Region 1.

Steve has a bachelor’s degree in Wildlife Management from West Virginia University and a master’s degree in Wildlife Science from the University of Tennessee. Steve enjoys hunting, fishing and preparing food to serve others – especially on a barbeque.

Event calendar

Types of events

  • Public meeting
  • Community event
  • Key date