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

January fishing tips and news

A woman stands on a frozen lake holding a fish
Photo courtesy of Tawney Jones

Winter only/ice fishing

The below-freezing temps in some parts of Eastern Washington mean some lakes will be ready for ice fishing in January. WDFW does not monitor ice depth or condition so be extremely careful when ice fishing.

Major winter fishing lakes include Eloika, Lake Spokane (Long Lake), Roosevelt, Rock, Fourth of July, Hog Canyon, and Williams (in Stevens County). While fishing is fair right now at Williams, a reminder not to fish Hatch this winter. It was rehabbed in October and won’t be stocked with trout until next spring.

Lake Roosevelt fishing has been good in the lower (southern) portion of the reservoir, but slower as you get into the upper third (above Gifford).

Diamond, Jump Off Joe, Sacheen, and Waitts lakes are all open year round and all good perch fisheries – including rainbow, brown, and yellow perch.  

Waitts Lake is also good for rainbow and brown trout in January, but Rock Lake in Whitman County is known for being the best winter trout fishery in the region. 

Lake whitefish is another good winter fishery in Eastern Washington. Whitefish can be found in Lake Roosevelt, the Little Spokane River, and the Kettle River in northeast Washington. In January, whitefish spawn in groups about 40 to 50 feet below the surface. This Fishing for Whitefish in Washington video has tips on catching these fish, as well as information on whitefish biology, management, gear, and habitat.

Burbot fishing on Lake Roosevelt also heats up in winter, in particular near the mouth of the Colville and Spokane rivers. Bead and Sullivan lakes in Pend Oreille County also have burbot. They can be caught both through the ice or by casting jigs or plunking bait from shore. This burbot fishing video has more tips.

Other lakes

Newman Lake in eastern Spokane County is also open year round and has decent winter fishing for black crappie. It was well on the way to being frozen over in late December but had gone through some freeze and thaw cycles so be sure to check ice depth before going out. Sprague Lake on the Lincoln-Adams county border is known for its good trout fishing in January and for being continuously iced over. But don’t trust the stories; play it safe and check the ice first.

Spring and Blue lakes, on the W.T. Wooten Wildlife Area in southeast Columbia County, were stocked with rainbow trout this fall but don’t develop enough ice for safe ice fishing, so access is limited once ice forms near the shore.

Share your volunteer photos

We want to see the outstanding work you’ve done to benefit fish and wildlife! We're grateful for all the volunteers who provide their time and talents by contributing to projects that benefit fish, wildlife, and habitat. Volunteer hunter education instructors are committed to ensuring that hunters have safe, legal, and ethical hunts. Many volunteers work directly with WDFW, but many also volunteer through partnerships and local projects around the state.

Share your photos or videos of your volunteer time with us at wdfw.wa.gov/share and select the category "Volunteer Activities". 

January hunting news

Mandatory hunter reporting

Hunters are required to report their hunting activity by Jan. 31 for each special permit acquired and each deer, elk, bear, cougar, moose, bighorn sheep, mountain goat, and turkey tag purchased in 2020. Those who do not meet the deadline must pay a $10 penalty before buying another license. Those who report their 2020 hunting results by Jan.10 will be entered into a drawing to win one of nine deer and elk incentive permits for fall 2021. See the Big Game Hunting Pamphlet for more information.

Upland game birds

Hunting for pheasant, quail, chukar, and gray or Hungarian partridge continues into mid-January. A reminder that non-toxic shot is required for upland bird, dove, and band-tailed pigeon on all pheasant release sites statewide.

Waterfowl

A Canada goose in flight

Duck and goose hunting continues through Jan. 31. Most smaller water bodies are frozen over but larger ones still have open water in popular hunting areas such as the Pend Oreille River, Lake Roosevelt, and the Colville River. 

Spring bear permit applications

The application period for the region’s 500+ special spring bear hunting permits begins Jan. 2 and runs through Feb. 28. Details are on the WDFW website.

Share your volunteer photos

We want to see the outstanding work you’ve done to benefit fish and wildlife! We're grateful for all the volunteers who provide their time and talents by contributing to projects that benefit fish, wildlife, and habitat. Volunteer hunter education instructors are committed to ensuring that hunters have safe, legal, and ethical hunts. Many volunteers work directly with WDFW, but many also volunteer through partnerships and local projects around the state.

Share your photos or videos of your volunteer time with us at wdfw.wa.gov/share and select the category "Volunteer Activities". 

Wildlife viewing

Rustlers Gulch wildlife area

First day hikes

Usher in the year with a hike or snowshoe trip through a Washington State Park! Most years, rangers lead trips through several area state parks, including Columbia Plateau Trail, Field Springs, Mount Spokane, and Riverside State Park. Due to COVID this year, your trip will be self-guided but still a great idea as Jan. 1 is a free day at state parks, meaning you do not need a Discover Pass to use them. Jan. 20, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, is also a "free" day.

Bird watching

January is a great bird-watching month, with birds more visible against winter landscapes and bare trees. Bald eagles can be seen along the Snake River, Lake Roosevelt, and other large waterways feeding on fish or waterfowl.

Other birds common in the area in winter months include black-capped and mountain chickadees; red-breasted, white-breasted, and pygmy nuthatches; Cassin’s and house finches; red crossbill; pine siskin; American goldfinch; common redpoll; evening grosbeak; northern pygmy owl; Clark's nutcracker; and gray and Steller’s jays.

Deer, elk, sheep and moose

Antler sheds can be found starting in January, but it is best to wait until late spring to go shed hunting to avoid stressing animals on winter range. Collecting naturally shed antlers is legal, but if too many people descend on an area before wintering animals have left, the animals could be disturbed, which threatens their survival at the hardest time of the year.

Deer, elk, moose, and bighorn sheep also move to lower elevations to feed and become more visible this time of year. Please keep a good distance to avoid stressing them.   

Annual closures

At the W.T. Wooten Wildlife Area in southeast Washington, the annual closure of the Cummings Creek drainage is effective Jan. 1 through April 1 to keep elk off surrounding private agricultural lands. The drainage is used as winter range for almost 300 elk. Human activity during winter months in the past has caused the animals to try to get through a fence that is intended to keep them off private property where they can cause crop damage. Limiting access to humans means less damage to the fence and private property.

Winter gates are also closed to the Sherman Creek Wildlife Area, limiting motor vehicle access to protect wintering wildlife. Access is still welcome on foot. An active logging project in the Colville National Forest adjacent to Sherman Creek, means the Bisbee Mountain Road gate will be open daily between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. for loggers. Normal winter closures remain in effect for the public.  

If you are using U.S. Forest Service land adjacent to WDFW-managed land, be sure to check USFS Maps for current road closures. There are several roads in southeast Washington closed to wheeled vehicles in the winter that can only be traveled with over-snow vehicles.

Temporary Wooten shooting range closure

The target shooting range on the W.T. Wooten Wildlife Area in Columbia County will be closed Jan. 5-7 for construction work. The department will make upgrades to the range, including reshaping the backstop to bring it into compliance with updated target shooting rules that go into effect Jan. 18, 2021.

In addition to the upgrades at the W.T. Wooten Wildlife Area, WDFW recently reshaped the target backstop on the Asotin Creek Wildlife Area shooting range in Asotin County to comply with the new regulations. That range has since reopened.

Wildlife tracks

Finding and identifying animal tracks in the snow while cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, or hiking can help teach children about local species. Common tracks seen include porcupines, river otters, bobcats, deer, elk, moose, coyotes, squirrels, rabbits, turkeys, grouse, and quail.

Don't feed the animals

Winter is the hardest time for wild animals to survive and while we understand the good intention behind feeding them, it actually harms more than helps wildlife. Animals’ bodies are not adapted to digest many foods. Accustomed to digesting woody browse, they are unable to tolerate corn or apples and hay can be harsh on their systems as well. The best way to help wildlife in winter is to stay far away from them to avoid causing stress, which uses energy that is in short supply this time of year.

Recreate responsibly this winter

Seven tips to recreate responsibly

#RecreateResponsibly to protect yourself, others, and the outdoors. Review the guidelines below before heading out on your outdoor adventure!

  • Know before you go. Some areas can become dangerous with winter conditions. Research your destination, as roads and facilities may be closed in winter.
  • Explore locally. Consider exploring locally, as driving and parking may be more challenging in winter. If you travel, be mindful of your impact on native and local communities.
  • Plan ahead. Check local conditions and prepare for the elements, packing extra layers, waterproof clothing, and avalanche safety gear for the backcountry.
  • Leave no trace. Did you know that snow is our water supply? Keep our winter playgrounds clean. Pack out any human or pet waste and be respectful of the land.
  • Practice physical distancing. Be prepared to cover your nose and mouth. When possible, opt to eat and rest outside. If you feel sick, stay home.
  • Play it safe. Know your limits and your gear. Slow down and choose lower-risk activities to reduce your risk of injury.
  • Build an inclusive outdoors. Everyone deserves to experience a winter wonderland. Be an active part of making the outdoors safe, accessible, and welcoming for all identities and abilities.

Share your volunteer photos

We want to see the outstanding work you’ve done to benefit fish and wildlife! We're grateful for all the volunteers who provide their time and talents by contributing to projects that benefit fish, wildlife, and habitat. Volunteer hunter education instructors are committed to ensuring that hunters have safe, legal, and ethical hunts. Many volunteers work directly with WDFW, but many also volunteer through partnerships and local projects around the state.

Share your photos or videos of your volunteer time with us at wdfw.wa.gov/share and select the category "Volunteer Activities". 

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

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