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

February fishing tips

Man on a frozen lake with a fish
Photo courtesy Tyler Hicks

Ice fishing

The weather in eastern Washington continues to be noncommittal. One week it’s 40 degrees and raining and the next it’s sub-zero temperatures. Most area lakes have been iced over enough for ice fishing this winter at least once, and may be again, but that warm stretch at the first part of January means you have to be even more careful than normal if planning to go out on the ice. Some popular ice fishing lakes in the region include Hog Canyon and Fourth of July lakes for rainbow trout, In northeast Washington, try Williams, Waitts, or the Little Pend Oreille Chain lakes including Gillette and Thomas in northeast Washington.

Curlew Lake is your best option in northeast Washington for pulling in larger fish-in the 9-to-11-inch range- through the ice. If you fish there, be aware that public access is limited on the north end of the lake so make sure you don’t cut across private property to find a good fishing spot.

For other ideas on where to ice fish and what is needed to get started, check out WDFW’s ice fishing web page. There are also safety guidelines there, as WDFW does not monitor ice depth or condition. To ensure ice is strong enough to support your weight, cut holes as you work your way out toward the center of the lake. Watch for holes drilled or cut by other anglers to avoid accidents. And if you cut large holes for fishing, consider marking them with fluorescent paint on the ice or with flags when you leave, for the safety of those who come along after you.

Winter non-ice fishing

Fishing at Lake Roosevelt is great any time of the year, and many people really look forward to fishing for kokanee and rainbow trout there this time of year. Here’s a tip, if you give it a try, start in the lower third of the reservoir as that’s where most of the winter fishing action takes place. The wild card with Roosevelt is that boat launches can be slick or closed due to ice or low water levels. Check conditions before going by calling the Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area at 509-754-7800. 

Roosevelt also has lots of good bank fishing spots. Watch the Winter Bank Fishing for Trout at Lake Roosevelt video for some great tips.

Long Lake (Lake Spokane) is another great winter fishing spot with boat bank and boat fishing options. Rainbow trout, yellow perch, and walleye are all popular fish targeted there in winter. If you fish Lake Spokane, be aware that its’ levels can fluctuate. Avista temporarily increased water flow to the summer pool elevation in late January to accommodate maintenance at Long Lake Dam, then plan to lower it by about 13 or 14 feet throughout February and possibly into March. The drawdown also helps to control Eurasian milfoil and other aquatic invasive weeds.

If the gray days are starting to get to you, maybe try something new. Lake whitefish are a fun, different species to target. But you’ve only got this month; the season ends Feb. 28 on the Little Spokane River and the Kettle River in Ferry County.

In southeast Washington, in Columbia and Garfield counties, Spring and Blue lakes on the W.T. Wooten Wildlife Area are still open to fishing and generally have decent rainbow trout fishing since they were stocked this past fall. Access to the lakes is easy right now as the large amount of snow that fell early this winter was mostly gone by early January. Winter is unpredictable though so pack for all conditions if you visit.

February hunting news

A bobcat in the snow
Photo courtesy Patricia Leigh

Small game seasons

Winter can outlast its’ welcome in eastern Washington some years; especially because it started in earnest prior to Thanksgiving this year. If you need something to motivate you to get outside in late winter, small game seasons- such as for bobcat, fox, raccoon, cottontail and snowshoe hare- are open until March 15.

Big Game Hunting Pamphlet Cover Photo Contest

Our annual Big Game Hunting Pamphlet Cover Photo Contest is happening now so share your photos with us! This year’s contest theme is “Who hunts?” We are looking for photos of you, your friends, and family enjoying hunting in Washington to be featured on the cover of this year’s Big Game Hunting Pamphlet. Send us your photos for a chance to win! Entries must be submitted through the WDFW website by February 15. Winners will be announced in the spring.

Hunter education

Did we mention that winter really seems to drag out around mid-to-late February some years? Rather than moping around, get going on preparing for next year’s hunting seasons! When the weather is cold and gray outside is a great time to complete a hunter education course if you plan to hunt in 2023 and haven’t done the course before. These classes reinforce important firearm and hunting safety principles, hunting ethics, basic survival and first aid, wildlife identification and conservation. For more information, visit the Hunter Education webpage.

A shed antler in the snow
Photo courtesy Derek LaMotte

Shed hunting

Deer, elk and moose start to shed their antlers this time of year, but late winter months can also be a difficult time for them as they try to conserve enough fat and energy stores to get through until spring. Because of this, we ask you to wait to hunt for sheds until April. Collecting naturally shed deer and elk antlers is legal but there are some ethical considerations to keep in mind and a few places that are restricted or off-limits. The easiest antler hunting is, of course, where deer or elk concentrate in the winter. But if many antler hunters descend on that area before wintering animals have left, the disturbance can threaten their survival at the harshest time of year. Some public lands have rules regarding shed hunting so do your homework before going out. And get permission from private landowners before entering their properties.

February wildlife viewing

People at the Outdoor Expo

Spokane Great Outdoors & Bike Expo

Got cabin fever? Start planning what you’re going to do this spring and summer; Come see WDFW at the Spokane Great Outdoors & Bike Expo at the Spokane Convention Center February 25-26. There’s tons to see and do at the show and it’s a great place to learn more about mountain biking, paddling, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, camping and many, many more outdoor activities, and we will let you know some of the best places in the region to do them. WDFW staff will also host a seminar on watchable wildlife, with an emphasis on beavers.

Winter bird watching

Winter is a great time for bird watching because with the bare trees, and often a backdrop of white snow, they are easier to spot. In WDFW’s Region 1, there are several wildlife areas with great bird watching opportunities, including the Asotin Creek, Chief Joseph, and W.T. Wooten wildlife areas in southeast Washington and the Sherman Creek Wildlife Area in northeast Washington. Each typically has a lot of raptors, hawks, eagles, and falcons wintering in the area.

Great Backyard Bird Count

If you do go bird watching, you can report your sightings during the annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) happening Feb. 17-20. Launched in 1998 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society, the GBBC collects data on wild birds and displays results in near real-time. Worldwide, more than 160,000 people of all ages and walks of life join the count each February to create a snapshot of the distribution and abundance of birds.

Avian influenza

While enjoying your bird watching adventures, or other outdoor activities, please report any sick or dead birds, or other animals, that you may encounter. An outbreak of avian influenza, commonly known as bird flu, is still active in Washington State and the northwest. Avian influenza is caused by infection with avian (bird) influenza (flu) Type A viruses that occur naturally among wild aquatic birds worldwide and can infect poultry and other bird and animal species. In January of 2023, a bobcat in northeast Washington was confirmed to have the virus. This transfer of avian influenza from birds to mammals isn’t unexpected and not something to panic about. Here are common questions and answers on avian influenza and how to protest yourself and domestic animals from contracting it.

Give wildlife lots of space and don’t feed them

A shed antler in the snow
Photo courtesy Derek LaMotte

In eastern Washington, February is unofficially considered the start of late winter, and also the hardest time for wild animals to survive. While some people think that they can help by feeding wildlife, it actually harms wild animals more than helps to be fed by humans. Animals’ bodies are not adapted to digest many foods. Accustomed to woody browse, when humans provide a steady diet of corn, apples or hay, it’s the equivalent of feeding your children junk food for every meal.

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. Because of that, we also ask that you wait until later this spring to go shed hunting.  Collecting naturally shed deer and elk antlers is legal but there are some ethical considerations to keep in mind and a few places that are restricted or off-limits. The easiest antler hunting is, of course, where deer or elk concentrate in the winter. But if many antler hunters descend on that area before wintering animals have left, the disturbance can threaten their survival at the harshest time of year. Public lands across the state may have rules, so do your homework before going afield. And get permission from private landowners before entering their properties.

Coexisting with coyotes

WDFW has been getting many calls about coyotes in urban areas this winter. Coyotes (Canis latrans) are present across nearly all of Washington state, from the shrubsteppe to the alpine, as well as urban and suburban areas. They are common in many larger, wooded green spaces and parks within cities and towns.

Coyote sightings often increase in winter when they are more active, or in late-winter and spring when they may have dens and pups to care for. Urban and suburban coyotes are a good reminder to keep a close eye on children, small pets, and other domestic animals like chickens or to keep them inside or in outbuildings if unsupervised. Visit our coyote webpage or learn more in this recent blog post.

Annual seasonal closures

The Cummins Creek drainage in the W.T. Wooten Wildlife Area in southeast Washington is closed to all human entry, as it is every year from Jan. 1 to April 1, to protect elk that winter in the area from stress caused by winter conditions that can be heightened by human presence. Campgrounds on the Wooten are open but staff doesn’t plow so access can vary with weather conditions. At the beginning of February most were accessible but watch the weather or give us a call if you plan to visit.

Winter gates are also closed to the Sherman Creek Wildlife Area in northeast Washington, limiting motor vehicle access to protect wintering wildlife. Access is still welcome on foot.

Habitat at Home

Backyard Bird Count
Laura Rogers

Get counting!

February is for the birds. Grab your binoculars and cell phones and get ready for the Great Backyard Bird Count! Every February folks around the world come together to count their local birds, wherever they live or happen to be. This fun, free, program is accessible to everyone.  

How it works

  1. Pick a spot to for watch birds (at home, in your community, on your vacation; any place will work!) 
  1. Watch or listen for birds for 15 minutes or more, at least once between February 17-20, 2023 
  1. Make note of the species you see or hear. (If you don’t know, take notes and ID them later using the provided resources). 
  1. Count ALL the birds you see or hear. (Make your best estimate of how many birds you saw of each species.) 
  2. Pick a method that works for you and submit your count!  
  • Merlin Bird ID app (phones) 
  • eBird Mobile app (phones) 
  • eBird web page (desktops and laptops) 

If you are in the Seattle area, join WDFW and our partners at the Environmental Science Center at Bird Fest in Burien for some hands-on learning, bird walks, and more on February 18th! 

Wild Washington Education

Duck Stamp contest

If you have a youth artist in your family, there’s still time to submit their art to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Junior Duck Stamp (JDS) art contest. The program blends art and science and helps teach K-12 youth about wetland and waterfowl conservation. If you have a student who is interested, learn more about contest rules and eligibility.

The object of the contest is for students to engage with waterfowl and wetland conservation by drawing or painting a native North American duck, goose, or swan.  All entries must be postmarked or in-hand at Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge (NWR), by February 15, 2023.

Junior Duck Stamp Contest
Ridgefield Refuge Complex
28908 NW Main Ave
P.O. Box 457
Ridgefield, WA 98642

Teachers can also engage students in wetland education and conservation using the year-round youth and educator guide. To learn more, check out the full Junior Duck Stamp Conservation Education Curriculum.

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

  • Key date
  • Community event
  • Public meeting
  • Commission meeting
  • Advisory group meeting