Discover Eastern Washington

Hills and trees reflected in a lake

Eastern - Region 1

Customer service staff in the Spokane Regional Office are available for walk-in service 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Counties served
Asotin, Columbia, Ferry, Garfield, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Spokane, Stevens, Walla Walla, Whitman
Office hours
Monday - Friday 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. excluding legal holidays

2315 North Discovery Place
Spokane Valley, WA 99216-1566
United States

Mike Kuttel, Jr.

Fishing tips and news

Winter-only trout lakes  

A WDFW staffer holding a large trout
A trout caught at Fourth of July Lake.

Winter-only rainbow trout lakes are now open for fishing and will remain open through March. In WDFW's Region 1,

that includes Fourth of July Lake on the Lincoln/Adams county line, Hatch Lake  in Stevens County, and Hog Canyon Lake in Spokane County. 
“Both Hog Canyon and Fourth of July lakes should fish decent on the opener,” said District 1 fish biologist Randy Osborne. “Pre-season sampling suggests you can expect to catch rainbows up to 22 inches at Fourth of July, but most will be in the 15 to 17-inch range. At Hog Canyon, sampled fish averaged around 13 inches but ranged from 7 to 17 inches.”  

While you could still launch a boat at Hog Canyon at the end of November, water levels at Fourth of July were so low that it will be a bank fishery this winter if conditions don’t change. Both lakes were ice-free as of the end of November. 

Hatch Lake, in northeast Washington, was also sampled recently and rainbows in the 11-13 inch range are plentiful. At the end of November, it had a very thin layer of ice over it, but not enough to ice fish safely in the foreseeable future. If ice does thicken on eastern Washington lakes in December, enough to fish, here are some ice fishing and ice safety tips.  

Williams Lake in Stevens County was rehabilitated this fall to remove illegally introduced fish and will not be open to fishing until fall of 2024.   

Year-round trout 

A man holds up a trout he caught in winter at Lake Roosevelt
Photo by Photo courtesy John Bigley

Trout fishing is generally decent year-round at Lake Roosevelt with lots of fish that were raised on the lake in net pens now in the 14-18 inch range and some even larger.  Lake Spokane (aka Long Lake) is also a popular winter fishery. Both lakes also have winter walleye and smallmouth fishing. At Lake Spokane, two of the three state boat launches close for winter and the third can be steep and slick so you may want to consider bank fishing. Turnouts off Highway 291 downstream of Tum Tum or between Nine Mile Dam and the mouth of the Little Spokane River are decent shore fishing spots. 

The W.T. Wooten Wildlife Area lakes– Blue and Spring- were stocked with trout prior to deer season and should be fishing well. The other lakes on the Wooten closed at the end of November.   

Mixed species 

 Want to try for something other than trout? Yellow perch in Curlew Lake in Ferry County make for a nice change. Silver Lake in southwest Spokane County, Eloika Lake in northern Spokane County, and Newman Lake in eastern Spokane County also all have perch.  


 If you’re interested in river fishing, Dec. 1 is the opening of the whitefish season on part of the Little Spokane River (from the Highway 291 bridge upstream to Chain Lake). The daily catch limit is 15 fish of any size, but whitefish gear rules apply (one single-point hook, maximum size 3/16-inch point to shank- hook size 14). The whitefish season is also open on the Kettle River in Ferry/Stevens counties. 

Sprague Lake flooding

If you fish Sprague Lake or live near it and are concerned about past high water and flood events, or potential future ones, you may want to attend a public meeting to learn about recommendations from a recent hydrology study of the lake and area around it. WDFW is partnering with the Department of Ecology on this effort and the meeting, scheduled for Jan. 2. More information on the issue, ways to address it, and the meeting are in this blog.

Hunting opportunities and news


A dog waits to retrieve waterfowl
Photo by Photo courtesy Josh Whitney

December is often a good month for duck and goose hunting in the region with northern migrant birds moving through the area. Canada geese are usually abundant on the Pend Oreille, Colville, Kettle, Columbia, Spokane, and Snake rivers, as well as their tributary valleys, especially in the widest valley bottom areas where there is extensive farmland.  

Information about duck and goose harvest for all Washington counties can be found under the annual small game harvest reports. For more information, go to the 2022-2023 Migratory Waterfowl and Upland Game Seasons pamphlet. Hunters may also find WDFW’s Hunting Prospects report helpful in determining the best places to hunt. 

Avian influenza 

A graphic showing how to report sick birds

With the weather cooling off and waterfowl flocking together to feed, WDFW is seeing an uptick in reports of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), also known as bird flu. HPAI occurs naturally among wild aquatic birds (ducks, geese, swans, gulls and terns, and shorebirds) and can infect poultry and other bird and animal species. The virus spreads through saliva, nasal secretions, feces, and contaminated surfaces. If you encounter a sick or dead bird, do NOT touch or move it, to avoid spreading the virus to areas where it wasn’t already present. Please report it right away.  
Common questions and answers regarding avian influenza- the risk to humans (minimal but precautions should be taken), spread to other wildlife species, and how to protect wildlife and domestic animals- can be found in this blog post

Wild turkey 

A man with a harvested turkey
Photo by Photo courtesy Skip Lemmon

Want to try something different for Christmas dinner this year? Put a wild turkey on the table. The common

misconception is that wild turkeys are tough, stringy, and gamey. When prepared slightly differently than a store-bought turkey, a wild turkey is well worth it. A quick search on the internet will provide lots of delicious recipe options.  

In addition to being delicious, wild turkeys are abundant in our area (you can harvest up to four turkeys during the fall general season in WDFW’s Region 1!). The late fall wild turkey hunting season runs through Dec. 31 in select game management units (GMUs), including 101-154 and 162-186. If you’re looking for a place to hunt them, check into hunting private lands through one of WFW’s access programs or the Hunt Planner web map

Upland game birds  

 You have until Jan. 15 to hunt all three species of grouse- blue (or dusky) ruffed, and spruce- available in various parts and elevations of the region. Grouse are especially prevalent in the northeast and southeast areas of the region. If you have a successful hunt, remember to drop the tail and a wing of each harvested grouse in a wing collection barrel.  More information on hunting forest grouse is available in the Hunting Prospects.  

Pheasant, chukar, and gray partridge hunting continues into the new year. If you are looking for a place to hunt them, check into hunting private lands through one of WDFW’s access programs or the Hunt Planner web map. You can also read our blog Top 5 hunting tips for upland game birds

Restrictions on importing harvested game meat from other states

With deer and elk seasons continuing in several other states in the west, a reminder that  Washington Administrative Code (WAC) 220-413-030 restricts the importation of certain parts of deer, elk, moose, or caribou harvested outside Washington. For guidance on what is legal to import to Washington, review the WAC. This map has other states and province's importation regulations.

Sharing public lands  

A reminder that hunting is allowed on most state public lands (excluding State Parks and designated Game Reserves). That means, during the course of your hunt, you may cross paths with people hiking, walking dogs, or taking advantage of other recreational opportunities. Please be respectful of each other to safely and responsibly share public lands and waters, and appreciate that both hunters and non-hunters care deeply about wildlife and their habitat. 

Intentionally obstructing the lawful taking of fish, shellfish, or wildlife—including waterfowl and upland game birds—is a crime in Washington as detailed in our state’s “hunter harassment” law RCW 77.15.210. If you experience hunter harassment or intentional obstruction of lawful hunting or fishing, contact WDFW Police immediately at or 360-902-2936, Option 1. 

Wildlife watching and recreation

Winter deer range 

Gate with closed sign on it

Winter gate closures are now in effect on wildlife areas in WDFW’s Region 1. At the Sherman Creek Wildlife Area in northeast Washington, the gates on Trout Lake Road and Bisbee Mountain Road are locked Dec. 1 each year to prevent vehicles from entering the area to protect deer on winter range. In southeast Washington, Lick Fork Road and the South Fork of Asotin Creek Road also close on the same day, along with Forest Service gates at the top of Lick Creek and Smoothing Iron roads on the Asotin Creek Wildlife Area. On the 4-O Ranch Unit of the Chief Joseph Wildlife Area, also in southeast Washington, Cougar Creek Road is closed.  

You are welcome to hike in past the gates but have to wait to drive in until April 1 to avoid disturbing wintering wildlife. Many of the wildlife areas were acquired specifically to provide habitat and winter range for wildlife but are also great places for year-round outdoor activities. Find out more about wildlife areas managed by WDFW

Slow down during the rut

In WDFW's Region 1, we are seeing a big increase in the number of calls regarding deer hit by vehicles. Now that it gets dark earlier, roads are slick, and deer are moving around more due to the rut, please slow down; for your own safety and the deer. Here's a recent blog we partnered with the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) that talks about the startling amount of money and resources spent on vehicle-wildlife collisions, as well as how to avoid them.

Also, a reminder that it is legal to salvage road-killed deer and elk in most Washington counties. If you do, and you live in WDFW's Region 1, please have your salvaged animal(s) tested for chronic wasting disease.

Christmas Bird Count 

It’s time for the annual Audubon Society Christmas Bird Count (CBC)! The CBC takes place every December around the world for the past 122 years. Both veteran and novice birdwatchers are encouraged to record their bird sightings over a 24-hour period and report them. Results are recorded in the world's longest-running bird database. For more information on the CBC, visit the Audubon website.  

Sharing public lands  

A reminder that hunting is allowed on most state public lands (excluding State Parks and designated Game Reserves) so, during the course of your outdoor adventures, you may cross paths with a hunter, or if you are a hunter, you may encounter people who are hiking, walking dogs, or taking advantage of other recreational opportunities.  

Please be respectful of each other, to safely and responsibly share public lands and waters, and appreciate that all users of public lands care deeply about wildlife and their habitat. Intentionally obstructing the lawful taking of fish, shellfish, or wildlife—including waterfowl and upland game birds—is a crime in Washington as detailed in our state’s “hunter harassment” law RCW 77.15.210. Anyone who experiences hunter harassment or intentional obstruction of lawful hunting or fishing should contact WDFW Police immediately at 360-902-2936 or contact the local WDFW office at 509-892-1001. 

Feeding Wildlife 

As temperatures begin to drop and the snow starts to fly, many people mistakenly believe that it helps deer and other wildlife make it through the winter if they feed them. Please never feed wildlife. Wild animals have survived without the help of humans for thousands of years and will continue to do so. Feeding causes issues such as habituating animals to humans, concentrating animals in a small area where they spread diseases to each other, and drawing animals into roadways where they can be hit by vehicles. Also, things that humans think are appropriate for wild animals to eat often aren’t. For instance, the digestive systems of deer and elk can handle a quick change to eating just hay or straw and they sometimes die with a full stomach because they can’t get nutrition from it. Eating too many apples can also kill deer. You can read more about why wildlife feeding is bad on the WDFW website

Meet your Regional Director - Mike Kuttel, Jr.

Mike Kuttel, Jr

Mike Kuttel Jr. is the Eastern Region (Region 1) Regional Director. Kuttel has been with WDFW since 2015 in two statewide policy positions focused on fish and wildlife conservation and providing recreational opportunities on public and private lands through federal farm bill conservation programs and partnering with the U.S. Forest Service and Washington State Department of Natural Resources on shared stewardship of forests.

Previously, he worked for conservation districts, the Washington State Conservation Commission, and Washington State Department of Ecology. He has a bachelor’s degree in environmental science. Kuttel is a lifelong Washington resident and has lived on both sides of the Cascades. He grew up in southwest Washington fishing and hunting. In his free time, Mike enjoys hunting, fishing, hiking, camping, and foraging for mushrooms and berries with family.