Discover Eastern Washington

Hills and trees reflected in a lake

Customer service staff in the Spokane Regional Office are available for walk-in service 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. WDFW staff will continue to wear masks while providing customer service, and the public is encouraged to wear a mask.

The Ford Hatchery will be closed to the public due to construction through June 2022.

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

May fishing tips

Opening Day at Clear Lake in Spokane County
Clear Lake in Spokane County on the opening day of fishing season 2022.

Water, fishing heating up

The opening day of fishing season on April 23 was a little slow for catching in WDFW’s Region 1- lots of people were trying!- but will get better in the coming weeks. With temperatures finally starting to stabilize (hopefully no more snow in May!), water temperatures are also starting to warm up, which means fish will be biting better.

In northeast Washington’s District 1, catch and harvest at all area lakes was below expectations due to the cold water temps in the low to mid 40s. Bites increase when water reaches at least 50 degrees. As spring progresses, Cedar, Rocky, Mudgett, and Waitts lakes are all expected to have particularly good fishing.

In District 2, the Spokane area, catch rates were also low due to cold water but those who were trolling or casting out and reeling in tended to do better than those still fishing. Fishing is also expected to improve in this area as the weather/water warms up, in particular Badger, West Medical, and Fishtrap lakes.

In District 3, in southeast Washington, most lakes are either open year-round or opened on March 1 so WDFW doesn’t monitor opening day success. Lakes across the region were stocked with rainbow trout prior to opening day and fishing will only get better in the coming weeks. In addition, many lakes had fry planted last fall that will make for nice catches this year. You can see all the lakes that were stocked and how many fish were planted in the Statewide Hatchery Trout and Kokanee Stocking Plan. It’s also a good idea to check the Sport Fishing Regulations before heading out to fish.

Year-round waters

Fishing for both rainbow and Westslope cutthroat trout at Amber Lake in southwest Spokane County is usually good in the spring. Remember that Amber is under selective gear rules and internal combustion motors are prohibited. Bait is strictly prohibited on any lake under selective gear rules. Coffee Pot Lake, in Lincoln County, is another selective gear lake. It is producing rainbow trout, mostly on flies. 
 
If you are interested in trying for other species, Downs Lake in southwest Spokane County fishes well in the spring for largemouth bass, yellow perch, and black crappie.

Lake Spokane (Long Lake), the impoundment on the Spokane River between Nine Mile Dam and Long Lake Dam, has good trout fishing year-round, and fishing for walleye has been decent as well. The beauty Long Lake is that if neither of those species are biting, you may also hook into some yellow perch, black crappie, smallmouth or largemouth bass.

Lake Roosevelt also has a wide variety of fish species. The Lake Roosevelt Forum wants to fill you in on everything fish and fishing-related at Lake Roosevelt with a free, online event May 19 from 9:30 a.m.-11:20 a.m. WDFW staff will talk hatchery/net pen production, walleye populations, and sturgeon. Click here to find an agenda and webinar registration.

Newman Lake, 12 miles northeast of Spokane, continues to produce quality largemouth bass, as well as yellow perch, crappie, and some monster tiger muskie (Silver Lake, in Spokane County, also has tiger muskie).    

At the W.T. Wooten Wildlife Area in Columbia County, five lakes are open currently- Blue, Spring, Deer, Rainbow, and Watson lakes. Curl Lake is used as an acclimation pond for spring Chinook salmon, so it opens the Saturday before Memorial Day.

Flyfishing

If flyfishing is your thing, any of the northeast lakes are good, but WDFW manages a handful of fly fishing-only lakes. Bayley Lake, located on the Little Pend Oreille National Wildlife Refuge, is one of the best fly-fishing opportunities in eastern Washington, regularly producing big rainbows in the 18 to 20-inch range with some fish getting even larger. 

McDowell Lake is another fly-fishing only water on the Refuge. Other nearby fly-fishing-only opportunities include Long Lake in Ferry County and Browns Lake in Pend Oreille County.

Annual Trout Derby

Whether flyfishing or regular fishing, if you catch a tagged trout, you can win a prize! WDFW's trout derby continues into May and runs through October. Over one thousand tagged fish were released in lowland lakes across the state this spring. Anglers with a current Washington fishing license who catch one can claim prizes provided by license dealers across the state. A list of lakes with prize fish is available on the Trout Derby website.

Salmon and steelhead

Hatchery spring Chinook salmon fishing opens in early May along two sections of the Snake River. “Zone A” is open Tuesdays and Fridays only, beginning May 3, until further notice, from Texas Rapids boat launch (on the south side of the river upstream of the mouth of Tucannon River) to the fishing restriction boundary below Little Goose Dam.  

“Zone B” is open Wednesdays and Thursdays only, beginning May 4, until further notice from the South Bound Highway 12 Bridge near Pasco upstream about 7 miles to the fishing restriction boundary below Ice Harbor Dam. The fishing season in both zones could close at any time depending on harvest levels. See the emergency rule for specific rules, catch limits and other information.

The 2022 forecast for upriver Columbia spring Chinook numbers is 122,900 fish; the highest predicted return since 2016 and above the 91,756 fish that returned last year.

New license reminder

If you haven’t already, be sure to get your 2022-2023 recreational hunting and fishing licenses. Those age 15 or older must have an applicable fishing and/or shellfish license. Licenses are available by phone at 866-246-9453 or online, and from license dealers around the state.

Boating safety

With fishing seasons in full swing, the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission Boating Program reminds you to take a boater safety education course, if you haven’t already, to be prepared for the season. In Washington, boaters who operate a vessel with a 15-horsepower engine or greater must carry a Boater Education Card to prove they passed an accredited boating safety education course. Keep in mind that wearing a flotation device in, on or around water saves lives as drowning is one of the leading causes of fatalities especially among young children.

Liberty Lake water access area closure

The very popular WDFW water access area at Liberty Lake in east Spokane County will close for a week to put some finishing touches on an improvement project that was mostly completed last fall. It will be closed from Monday, May 9 at 7 a.m. through Tuesday, May 17 at 5 p.m. This will allow a contractor to perform warranty work on the chip seal, install a boat boarding float, and restripe portions of the parking lot.

May hunting news

A woman carries a harvested turkey
Joe Biggs

Spring wild turkey

Spring turkey season is in full swing and results seem to be hit-and-miss so far. If you haven’t gotten your bird(s) yet, the season continues through May. If you’re not sure where to hunt, there is plenty of opportunity on public land in Pend Oreille, Stevens and Ferry counties, including the Colville National Forest, the Little Pend Oreille National Wildlife Refuge, and WDFW’s Sherman Creek, LeClerc Creek, and Rustler’s Gulch wildlife areas.
New this year, you can harvest a third turkey in Spokane county.

In the southeast part of WDFW’s Region 1, the Asotin Creek, Chief Joseph, and W.T. Wooten wildlife areas also have good hunting opportunity.  

Spring turkey season is in full swing and results seem to be hit-and-miss so far. If you haven’t gotten your bird(s) yet, the season continues through May. If you’re not sure where to hunt, there is plenty of opportunity on public land in Pend Oreille, Stevens and Ferry counties, including the Colville National Forest, the Little Pend Oreille National Wildlife Refuge, and WDFW’s Sherman Creek, LeClerc Creek, and Rustler’s Gulch wildlife areas. New this year, you can harvest a third turkey in Spokane county. In the southeast part of WDFW’s Region 1, the Asotin Creek, Chief Joseph, and W.T. Wooten wildlife areas also have good hunting opportunity.

Spring bear

The spring black bear season will not be open this year. Special hunt permits Hunters have through May 31 to apply for special hunting permits for fall deer, elk, mountain goat, moose, bighorn sheep, and turkey seasons. Special permits qualify hunters to hunt at times and places beyond those authorized by a general hunting license. You do not need to buy a hunting license before submitting a special hunt application for mountain goat, moose, or bighorn sheep, but if drawn, you will need to purchase a license before you get your special hunt permit. Permit winners will be selected through a random drawing conducted by WDFW in June. More information, applications, and licenses are available from license vendors statewide or on WDFW's website. Most special hunt permit applications cost $7.10 for residents, $110.50 for non-residents, and $3.80 for youth under 16 years of age. Hunter education A hunter education certificate is required before hunting this year, as every year. Information on the online course is on the WDFW website. Students older than age 9 can take the online hunter education course and a Virtual Field Day. The entire course takes approximately 10 hours to complete. Students can complete the course in multiple sittings. Be respectful on private lands: The public is fortunate to have the opportunity to hunt private property through WDFW's Private Lands program. Some people in Eastern Washington recently have been target shooting on private lands, leaving a mess. Please be respectful when using both private and public lands. Visit the WDFW Medium blog site to read about opportunities to hunt and recreate on private lands. 

Special hunt permits

Hunters have through May 31 to apply for special hunting permits for fall deer, elk, mountain goat, moose, bighorn sheep, and turkey seasons. Special permits qualify hunters to hunt at times and places beyond those authorized by a general hunting license.

You do not need to buy a hunting license before submitting a special hunt application for mountain goat, moose, or bighorn sheep, but if drawn, you will need to purchase a license before you get your special hunt permit. Permit winners will be selected through a random drawing conducted by WDFW in June. More information, applications, and licenses are available from license vendors statewide or on WDFW's website. Most special hunt permit applications cost $7.10 for residents, $110.50 for non-residents, and $3.80 for youth under 16 years of age.

Hunter education

A hunter education certificate is required before hunting this year, as every year. Information on the online course is on the WDFW website.

Students older than age 9 can take the online hunter education course and a Virtual Field Day. The entire course takes approximately 10 hours to complete. Students can complete the course in multiple sittings.

Be respectful on private lands

The public is fortunate to have the opportunity to hunt private property through WDFW's Private Lands program. Some people in Eastern Washington recently have been target shooting on private lands, leaving a mess. Please be respectful when using both private and public lands. Visit the WDFW Medium blog site to read about opportunities to hunt and recreate on private lands.

May wildlife viewing

A hummingbird drinks out of a feeder
Robin Mills

Speedy birds

Hummingbirds are back in eastern Washington! Despite freezing overnight temps in some parts, the feisty little guys are back so ready your feeder and your camera.

Negative wildlife interactions

Critters that may try to make your home into their home are also back this spring. Small mammals like raccoons, skunks, and marmots can become a nuisance this time of year when they start to nest in places like crawl spaces, under porches, or corners of garages or storage sheds. Learn how to enjoy these wildlife neighbors without problem on WDFW’s website.

You may also be seeing more larger wildlife, like moose with calves, bears, coyotes or cougars as the weather warms up. Be alert and aware of surroundings and take precautions when hiking, picnicking or camping. Most wild animals want to avoid people, so make noise to alert animals to your presence. Keep a clean picnic spot to avoid attracting animals with food smells. Learn more about bears, cougars, coyotes and moose on our Living with Wildlife webpages.

Leave wild babies wild

May is a busy month for the birth of baby animals. If you run into fawns, baby birds, or other young animals, please leave them be, even if they appear to be orphaned or abandoned. Most animals have a parent foraging or hunting nearby. Read our blog to learn about when not to rescue wildlife.

Amphibians and reptiles

Did you know Washington is home to at least 25 species of amphibians (salamanders and frogs) and 28 reptiles (turtles, snakes, and lizards)? If you hadn’t noticed, there’s a lot of ribbit ribbit, croaking, trilling, hopping and slithering happening right now around ponds, waterways and greenbelts. Amphibians and reptiles are both important members of aquatic (water) and terrestrial (land) ecosystems, and they may use different habitats throughout the year, and it is especially noticeable and visible during spring. Click on the WDFW amphibian and reptile webpage or the species webpage to find out more information.

Habitat at Home

Washington offers plenty of opportunities to observe wildlife just outside your own back door as bees, and other pollinators begin to emerge along with birds and hummingbirds zipping by your window.

From apartments to classrooms, container gardens are a great way to support pollinators in urban and suburban areas. By clicking on the Wild Washington Live! Habitat at Home video, you can learn about different types of containers, what kind of seeds/plants to buy, and more. This recording is all ages friendly, great for classrooms and families who are interested in learning more about how they can support Washington’s native pollinators.

Backyard wildlife activities

Learn how to landscape for wildlife: Vegetation is key to attracting a variety of wildlife. Native plants provide the food, shelter, and nesting habitat for songbirds, hummingbirds, butterflies, bees, and other wildlife. You can use this extra time at home to map out how you’d like your property to look and figure out which plants would thrive where you live. Visit the Washington Native Plant Society’s website for resources.

Add a water source to your yard: Put in a birdbath, garden pond, or other source of water outside your home. A safe place to bathe and drink will act as a magnet to many animals. You can make a simple birdbath with things you probably already have. Visit the Audubon’s website for an easy do-it-yourself bird bath using an old cake pan or flower-pot tray.

Build a bird house or nest box: Add bird houses to your property, or better yet, try to leave snags (dead trees) if they don’t pose any risk. Cavity-nesting birds have been especially impacted by urban development. A bird house of the proper dimensions can substitute for snags where these birds used to nest. There are lots of easy instructions online to build your own bird house or nest box. Visit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Backyard Birding webpage for resources.

Keep your cats and wild birds safe: Domestic cats can make great pets, but when they are allowed to roam outdoors, there can be serious consequences to local wildlife. Cats kill about 2.4 billion birds every year in the U.S. alone. Visit the American Bird Conservancy website for information on their Cats Indoors Program and learn how to keep pet cats and wild birds safe. You may even consider an outdoor enclosure for your cat, also known as a ‘catio’.

Make a window cling to protect birds: Up to a billion birds die each year from flying into glass. You can help prevent that from happening at your house by making your own window clings using recycled plastic and puffy fabric paint. Check out this tutorial video from the Audubon Society.

Watch out for invasive Asian giant hornets: These new pests were discovered near Bellingham, and researchers are still tracking how widely the hornet has spread. Asian giant hornets are the world’s largest hornet and attack most insects but prefer honeybees and can kill entire hives. They also pose a human threat as their venom is more toxic than any native bee or wasp. Report any sightings of the Asian giant hornet to the Washington State Department of Agriculture at agr.wa.gov/hornets. Do not approach these insects as they can sting through normal clothing.

Report bat observations: Have you seen a bat flying during the day or in freezing weather? These could be signs of a serious disease called white-nose syndrome. Please report your observations online or call 360-902-2515. White-nose syndrome does not pose a threat to humans, pets, or other wildlife. 

Life Outdoors

Share your outdoor adventures for a chance to win outdoor gear!

Send us your best #LifeOutdoorsWA photos of how you spend time outdoors! Your photos may be featured on WDFW’s Facebook and Instagram to celebrate the variety of ways people enjoy outdoor lifestyles and to inspire others to spend time in nature.

Enter our monthly photo contest for a chance to win a Cabela’s gift card! Each month has a new theme and a new winner.

Share your outdoor adventures for a chance to win outdoor gear!

Send us your best photos of how you spend time outdoors! Your photos may be featured on WDFW’s Facebook and Instagram to celebrate the variety of ways people enjoy outdoor lifestyles and to inspire others to spend time in nature.

Enter our monthly photo contest for a chance to win a Cabela’s gift card! Each month has a new theme and a new winner.

Participating is simple:

Visit WDFW’s Life Outdoors webpage to find out the outdoor recreation theme for the current month.

Submit pictures of you, your friends, or family participating in the month’s featured outdoor recreation theme on WDFW’s website.

When submitting your photo, select #LifeOutdoorsWA in the category section. In the description area, tell us a little about your experience.

On the last Friday of the month, a winner will be selected and featured on WDFW’s Facebook and Instagram. Winners will also be contacted via email to receive their prize.

When sharing your photos on social media, be sure to use #LifeOutdoorsWA!

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

No events found this month for this region. Check the agency calendar for more events.