Discover North Central Washington

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Staff furloughs

With Washington’s economy hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is planning one day of agency-wide furloughs each month through November.

While public safety-related needs will remain staffed, most other WDFW services, including customer service, will be unavailable Friday, Aug. 14, Friday, Sept. 4, Friday, Oct. 30, and Wednesday, Nov. 25.

Counties served: Adams, Chelan, Douglas, Grant, Okanogan

Director: Vacant 

1550 Alder Street NW
Ephrata, WA 98823-9699

Email: TeamEphrata@dfw.wa.gov

Telephone: 509-754-4624

Fax: 509-754-5257

August fishing tips and news

High Lakes

August can be an ideal time to hike out to some of eastern Washington’s high lakes, where lower fishing pressure can help even new anglers reel in a trout on a fly rod.

Adorable kid in fuzzy costume with donkey ears holds a rainbow
David Kakish

Several alpine lakes in Chelan and Okanogan counties either have sustainable fish populations or are periodically stocked with trout. Search by county to get started finding lakes in your region. If you’re new, you can also check out our list of lakes ideal for getting started on a high lake adventure.

Salmon

The Wenatchee Lake fishery will open from Aug. 3 to Sept. 7, with a daily limit of four sockeye (minimum size 12 inches). Anglers must release all bull trout, steelhead, and Chinook salmon unharmed and without removing the fish from the water. Selective gear rules are in effect -- up to three single barbless hooks per line, no bait or scent allowed, knotless nets required. Two-pole fishing is allowed with a valid two-pole endorsement. A night closure is also in effect.  

Also beginning Aug. 3, anglers will be able to keep up to four sockeye on the Columbia River in the pools upstream of Priest Rapids Dam. 

Effective dates for each section of river are as follows: 

  • From Priest Rapids Dam to Rock Island Dam: Aug. 3 through Aug. 31. 
  • From Rock Island Dam to Wells Dam:  Aug. 3 through Oct. 15.  
  • From Wells Dam to the Highway 173 Bridge at Brewster:  Aug. 3 through Sept.15. 
  • From the Highway 173 Bridge at Brewster to the rock jetty at the upstream shoreline of Foster Creek (Douglas County side): Aug. 3 through Oct. 15. 

This fishery may close early, so be sure to visit our emergency rules webpage before heading out.

Sturgeon

Catch-and-release sturgeon fishing continues on portions of the Columbia River from Priest Rapids Dam to Rock Island Dam. WDFW Chelan/Douglas district fish biologist Travis Maitland reports sturgeon are still being caught in both the Priest and Wanapum pools, with the best fishing currently just immediately downstream of Rock Island Dam on the Wanapum pool.   

Warmwater/Mixed Species

Fishing at Potholes Reservoir and Moses Lake in the Columbia Basin is usually good during August for smallmouth and largemouth bass and walleye.

Roses Lake in Chelan County usually continues to produce rainbow trout, channel catfish, and some nice bluegill through August.

Among many choices in Okanogan County, Leader Lake has bluegill and black crappie, Whitestone Lake has channel catfish and black crappie, and Palmer Lake has smallmouth and largemouth bass.

Kokanee are still fishing well in Patterson, Alta, and Spectacle lakes. 

Get paid to fish

Northern pikeminnow in a net on a dock
Jim Souders

The Northern Pikeminnow Sport-Reward fishery, which pays anglers $5-$8 for each qualifying fish, continues in August.

Funded by the Bonneville Power Administration, this program targets large northern pikeminnow, which is the main piscine predator of juvenile salmon and steelhead throughout the Columbia and Snake river systems. Tagged pikeminnow are worth $500 each, and in 2019, the top angler earned more than $50,000 – just from fishing!

The goal of the program is not to eradicate pikeminnow, said Eric Winther, pikeminnow program manager with WDFW, but to harvest 10 to 20 percent of the larger fish that might prey on endangered or threatened salmon and steelhead species.

To see where anglers have been having luck reeling in pikeminnow, visit WDFW’s website for weekly updates. For more information on the program and helpful tips on how to catch pikeminnow, visit the program webpage.

Take our survey

 If you get a fishing, shellfishing, and diving survey in your email, please respond. It’s a randomized survey (i.e. not everyone will get it). If you receive it, we want you to know it’s legitimately from WDFW, and we need your help.

Aquatic invasive species check station

If you will be taking your boat out, don’t forget to stop if you pass a boat check station. Quagga and zebra mussels, milfoil, and other aquatic invasive species can “hitchhike” from one water body to another on your boat if you don’t clean, drain, and dry it and the gear in it every time after leaving the water.

Washington State’s only mussel detection dog, Puddles, recently sniffed out invasive mussels on a boat after it had previously gone through three other boat check stations in other states!

Properly decontaminating boats can prevent hundreds of millions of dollars in environmental damage by organisms that invade ecosystems and negatively impact water quality, power and irrigation systems, native wildlife, and recreation opportunities.

Hunting opportunities this August

Black bear

Hunting is a family affair for this group of granparents and grandkids.
Mike Wise

General hunting seasons for black bear open Aug. 1 in the Columbia Basin Zone, including Game Management Units (GMU) 248, 254, and 260-290, in the East Cascades Zone (including GMUs 244-247 and 249-251), in the in the Okanogan Zone (GMUs 203 and 209-243), and in the Northeastern A Zone as shown in the Big Game Hunting pamphlet.

Bear hunters in some of these areas are reminded that it’s possible to encounter some protected grizzly bears, so species identification is critical. This year for the first time successful completion of WDFW’s online Bear Identification Program is required if hunting bears in GMUs 203, 204, 209, and 215.

Successful hunters are required to submit a bear tooth to WDFW to determine the animal’s age. All hunters are urged to avoid shooting sows with cubs.

2020-2021 Migratory Waterfowl and Upland Game Seasons and Rules available

Check out this year's regulation pamphlet details rules for migratory waterfowl and upland game.

Limited-entry deer hunt

Deer hunters have until Aug. 14 to apply for an opportunity to hunt this fall on the 6,000-acre Charles and Mary Eder unit of the Scotch Creek Wildlife Area in northeastern Okanogan County. Eighteen applicants will be chosen during a random drawing to participate in the “limited-entry” deer hunt for bow hunters (Sept. 1-25), muzzleloaders (Sept. 26-Oct. 4) and hunters using modern firearms (Oct. 17-27). See the WDFW news release for more information.

Fire precautions

Hunters are reminded that restrictions on campfires, smoking outside of vehicles, and other activities on WDFW lands east of the Cascade Range remain in effect to prevent wildfires. Most of this region is considered in high or very high/extreme wildfire danger by the Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR), which also has restrictions in effect. For more information, see DNR's fire danger webpage.

All wildlife areas statewide have year-round prohibitions on fireworks and incendiary devices, including tracer rounds and exploding targets, to reduce the risk of wildfire.

Take hunter education online

It’s a good idea to take Hunter Education classes to get ready for fall hunting seasons. In an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19, WDFW has cancelled all in-person Hunter Ed classes until further notice.

You still have a couple options. You may take the online hunter education course and a Virtual Field Day to replace the in-person Field Skills Evaluation. This course takes approximately 10 hours to complete, but students can do it in multiple sittings. You can register for and complete the online hunter education course at https://www.hunter-ed.com/washington/. Next, register for and complete the online Virtual Field Day course at https://www.huntercourse.com/virtualfieldday/

You may also qualify for a once-in-a-lifetime Hunter Education Deferral, which allows a one year deferral for individuals new to hunting who are accompanied by an experienced hunter. More information is at https://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/requirements/education/deferral-program

Another option is to enroll in a later course. You may choose to postpone completion of hunter education and enroll in class after the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. Both the traditional classroom course and the online class plus in-person field skills evaluation course will be available.

For assistance, email huntered@dfw.wa.gov or call 360-902-8111.

Wildlife viewing close to home

Recreate Responsibly

Recreate Responsibly logo

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

  • Know before you go. Check the status of the place you want to visit. If it is closed, don't go. If it's crowded, have a back up plan (or two). 
  • Explore locally. Limit long-distance travel and make use of local parks, trails, and public spaces. Be mindful of your impact on the communities you visit.
  • Plan ahead. Bring essentials like hand sanitizer and a face covering.
  • Leave no trace. Respect public lands and waters, as well as native and local communities. Take all your garbage with you.
  • Practice physical distancing. Keep your group size small. Be prepared to cover your nose and mouth and give others space. If you are sick, stay home.
  • Play it safe. Slow down and choose lower-risk activities to reduce your risk of injury. Search and rescue operations and health care resources are both strained. 
  • Build an inclusive outdoors. Be an active part of making the outdoors safe and welcoming for all identities and abilities.

Birds

This is usually the last month for a good look at, or at least a listen to, neotropical migrant species. Bluebirds, blackbirds, flycatchers, sparrows, swallows, tanagers, warblers, wrens and many other species begin gathering for southward migrations. 

Almost any riparian or streamside area with lush vegetation is a good bet for finding these colorful birds, including those on the region’s many wildlife areas. But full, late summer foliage can make seeing some of these seasonal visitors more difficult than hearing them. Improve your bird song identification skills, but get up early or stay out late during cooler hours when birds are more active.  

Those who have been providing sugar-water nectar in backyard feeders for hummingbirds should be especially diligent about keeping those feeders clean during the heat. Many hummingbirds will begin migrating out of the region by mid-August.

Alpine wildlife

August provides lots of opportunity for viewing alpine and subalpine wildlife while hiking at elevation to beat the heat.

WDFW Okanogan district wildlife biologist Scott Fitkin says the best opportunities are at higher elevation areas where mountain goats, hoary marmots, pikas, Columbian ground squirrels, golden-mantled ground squirrels, ptarmigan, gray-crowned rosy finches, and many other bird species are active and visible. 

By the end of the month, migrating raptors should be evident along high elevation ridges.

Butterflies

The Sinlahekin Wildlife Area in northcentral Okanogan County is a good destination for butterfly watching this month while many wildflowers are still in full bloom. Watch for several species of whites, sulphurs, coppers, hairstreaks, blues, fritillaries, checkers, nymphs, and skippers.

Event calendar

Types of events

  • Key date
  • Public meeting