Discover North Central Washington

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

Counties served
Office hours
Monday - Friday 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. excluding legal holidays

1550 Alder Street NW
Ephrata, WA 98823-9699
United States

Brock Hoenes

Fishing tips and news

Check out our 2024 Warmwater Fishing Opportunities Report

Columbia River salmon fishing

Person in a boat holding a salmon and smiling.
Photo by Steve Graves

The Upper Columbia River opens July 1 for summer Chinook and sockeye. The 2024 preseason forecast for Upper Columbia summer Chinook is 52,600 adults to the Columbia River mouth compared to the 2023 return of 54,722 adults (85,400 was the forecast). 

The sockeye fishery in this part of the Columbia River also draws a lot of attention, and the 2024 preseason forecast is 288,700 adults (179,655 was the actual return in 2023). 

The most popular and productive places to catch summer Chinook are the tailrace of Wanapum Dam, “bubbles” around the mouth of Entiat and Chelan Rivers, and tailrace of the Wells Dam. Anglers are advised that summer Chinook retention is closed this year in the Brewster Pool (Hwy 173 Bridge in Brewster upstream to a line drawn between Pelican Point and Gun Club Rd.). Anglers can retain sockeye in the Brewster Pool. The Okanogan and Similkameen Rivers are also closed to all salmon fishing this year. These closures are intended to protect what is expected to be a minimal return of summer Chinook to the Okanogan River system that are needed for spawning the brood stock.  

When fishing around Wells Dam, use caution as the dam spews out water creating turbulent sections and can rise and drop quickly. Most fish from the westside near the outlet of the hatchery, and the eastern shoreline, tends to be where the sockeye hang out before moving upstream. Bank anglers fish the Chelan County side.

One of the keys to deciding where you’ll fish for summer kings or sockeye is by examining the dam fish counts. This will give you a snapshot of how many fish are in a certain area, where they’re migrating or staging, and if you want to catch a Chinook or sockeye. You can track fish migration to the upper-river basin at the Fish Passage Center's website.

The peak timing of the Chinook and sockeye runs coincide with the Brewster King Salmon Derby on Aug. 5-7.

The Lake Wenatchee sockeye forecast is 97,000 (down from 146,875 actual return in 2023). The escapement goal for this stock is 23,000 fish counted over Tumwater Dam. Anglers can keep tabs on the Tumwater Dam fish counts to see if a late-July or early-August fishery is a possibility.

The 2024 salmon seasons have been set with some improved opportunities in the ocean driven by strong expected coho returns. Look for a variety of marine and freshwater areas to go and wet a line this summer and fall. The seasons – cooperatively developed by WDFW and treaty tribal co-managers – allow recreational salmon anglers a chance to start making plans now to go fishing. Read the news release for more information.

Releasing salmon properly

Selective fisheries for hatchery-produced salmon and catch-and-release fisheries are increasingly important to providing recreational fishing opportunities around Washington. To ensure these salmon fisheries are successful long-term, it is vital that anglers do their part to comply with all regulations, especially how to properly release unmarked, undersized, and out-of-season fish to improve their survival. Watch our YouTube video and read how to properly release salmon on our blog.

Celebrate Bass Week (July 8-12)

5 year old catching bass
Photo by Kellie Armstrong

It’s one of our favorite weeks of the year at WDFW! Join us July 8-12 as we get out on the water to highlight some of the best bass fishing locations in the state, provide bass fishing tips and tackle recommendations, and answer your questions on all thing’s bass.

With more than 1,000 lakes containing bass statewide, and some outstanding river fishing opportunities, both smallmouth and largemouth bass are plentiful in Washington waters. And you don’t have to own a boat to catch bass – some of the state’s best fishing can be done from docks or along the shoreline.

During Bass Week we’ll highlight some of the best bass waters in Washington, provide bass fishing tips, and answer your questions on all thing’s bass. Submit your best bass fishing photos to be featured on our Facebook and Instagram.


Many lowland lakes continue to produce fair to good trout fishing action. Popular choices for anglers include ParkDeep and Warden Lakes in Grant county; AltaConconully (Lake and Reservoir), and Pearrygin Lakes in Okanogan County; WapatoFishBeehive, and Upper Wheeler Lakes in Chelan County; and Jameson Lake in Douglas County. Grimes Lake in Douglas County opened June 1for a selective gear fishery targeting some very nice Lahontan Cutthroat Trout. To learn about other area lakes, click on the following link on WDFW’s website. Stocking information can be found at the following site. 

Smaller-size lakes with more secluded settings include Round Lake and Long Lake east of Tonasket; Beaver Lake and Lake Beth in northeast Okanogan County; and Wannacut Lake west of Oroville. Fishing for kokanee – a landlocked sockeye salmon – can be found in Patterson, Alta, Conconully, Bonaparte, and Spectacle lakes.

Within the Quincy Lakes Unit of the Columbia Basin Wildlife Area there are many walk-in lakes open. Dusty Lake is an excellent hike-in lake for anglers wanting to get away from crowds at other more popular lakes. Each May this selective gear fishery is stocked with fingerling rainbowtiger, and brown trout. Evening fishing along the basalt hillsides can be excellent for elusive brown trout.

Lenice and Nunnally should fish well for trout in the 14- to 16-inch range with some up to 20 inches. Both lakes received 3,000 catchable-sized trout in the fall of 2023 and  another 2,337 (Lenice) and 2,750 (Nunnally) this spring. “Selective Gear Rules” apply on these waters.

Dry Falls, located in the Sun Lakes State Park, is a popular selective gear lake for large rainbow and brown trout. Fish in the 16- to 20-inch range were common in spring 2023 and expect to see a continuation in 2024. Each spring, Dry Falls Lake is stocked with 4,500 fingerling rainbow trout and 1,000 fingerling brown trout. The lake is under selective gear rules with no combustion motors allowed.

High mountain trout lakes

Most high elevation or alpine trout lakes are accessible this month for hikers packing their fishing rods. Almost 200 small lakes, ranging from about 3,000 to 8,000 feet in elevation, lie on public land within Chelan and Okanogan counties, including the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, Lake Chelan National Recreation Area, North Cascades National Park, Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, and Colockum Wildlife Area.

Trout derby

Try your luck catching thousands of tagged trout lurking in more than 100 statewide lakes. Anglers who catch a tagged fish can win over 800 donated prizes totaling around $37,000. Lakes with tagged trout are Beehive Reservoir and Wapato in Chelan County; Jameson in Douglas County; Corral, Deep and Rainbow/Vic Meyers in Grant County; Alta, Conconully Lake and Reservoir, PearryginSpectacle and Wannacut in Okanogan County. Visit the Trout Derby page for details.

Year-round waters

Columbia River reservoirs Lake Roosevelt and Rufus Woods Lake are two of the top choices for large-sized rainbow trout along with bragging size kokanee. In April, the Colville Confederated Tribes Resident Fish Program stocked 23,157 triploid rainbow trout averaging 1.4 pounds apiece in Rufus Woods Lake. Additional plants took place in May to boost spring-time fishing. Lake Chelan is still producing limits of some very nice sized Kokanee (up to 18”), and it’s also worth a try for cutthroat trout, lake trout, and a few landlocked Chinook salmon.

Anglers should find good fishing at Rocky Ford Creek near Soap Lake. This is a catch-and-release, fly-fishing-only stream, and only fishing from the bank is allowed. There are plenty of 16- to 20-inch rainbow trout in this stream. 

The Potholes Reservoir is a good bet for bank fishermen for rainbow trout off the eastern shoreline. Other year-round lakes worth a try for trout are Sprague in Adams County; Fish and Roses in Chelan County; BanksBilly Clapp, and Long in Grant County.

Rivers, streams, and beaver pond fishing: Anglers can head to many of Washington’s statewide rivers, streams and beaver ponds open now through Oct. 31. Beaver ponds located within or connected to streams listed as open to trout and other game fish follow the same rules as the stream.  Be sure to check for special regulations.

Warmwater fish species

Desert Unit - sunrise over Potholes
Photo by Alan Bauer

Moses Lake generates some nice smallmouth bass for anglers tossing crankbaits, tube jigs and plastic worms.

The Potholes Reservoir is a decent location for walleye along with bank fishing for trout off the

 eastern shoreline. Potholes Reservoir’s Lind Coulee arm at the east end of the reservoir and the Crab Creek channel are two of the best locations to pursue walleye and troll bottom bouncers with a night crawler.

Fishing for black crappie, bluegill, channel catfish, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, tiger muskie and yellow perch also picks up with the warmer weather.

Walleye, yellow perch, and black crappie fishing should continue to be good on Banks Lake in July, as we have had a very mild spring. Leader Lake and Washburn Island Pond in Okanogan County should continue to fish well for bass and panfish anglers in July.

Boating safety

With saltwater and freshwater fishing season openers in Aprilthe Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission 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.

Hunting opportunities and news

Target shooting

Annual summer target shooting and campfire restrictions rules go into effect on July 1 to reduce the risk of wildfires. Target shooting restrictions run now through Sept. 30. Furthermore, steel targets are not allowed through the end of September. Exploding targets, tracer, or incendiary ammunition are never allowed. Read our news release for details.

Hunter education

These courses reinforce important firearm and hunting safety principles, hunting ethics, basic survival and first aid, and wildlife identification and conservation. For more information, visit the Hunter Education webpage.

Reporting your harvest

Mandatory hunter harvest reporting allows the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to better manage game species throughout the state and set permit levels for upcoming seasons. This in turn allows for more hunting opportunities. For more information, visit the hunting reporting webpage.

Wildlife watching and recreation

Bird watching

A black and white bird with yellow eyes in the water.
Photo by Andrew Thomas

This month is prime time for birdwatching throughout the region. The Desert unit and others of the Columbia Basin Wildlife Area in Grant County are havens for waterfowl, wading birds, shorebirds, raptors, songbirds, and more. Ducks include blue-winged and cinnamon teal, goldeneye, mallard, ruddy, ring-necked, shoveler, gadwall, redhead, wigeon, and scaup. Wading birds include herons, egrets, bitterns, and rails. Shorebirds include avocets, dowitchers, stilts, phalaropes, snipe, and curlews. Raptors include great-horned owl, red-tailed hawk, northern harrier, and rough-legged hawk. Songbirds include blackbirds, goldfinches, kingbirds, swallows, and warblers. 

The Lake Lenore access sites in Grant County provide opportunities to see yellow-headed blackbirds and hear canyon wrens, along with swifts, swallows, and lots of other birds. The lake supports lots of waterfowl, too and the Barrow’s goldeneyes that would normally nest in trees but use holes in the basalt cliffs instead. 

The Entiat unit of the Chelan Wildlife Area in Chelan County hosts a wide diversity of birds, including veery, warbling vireo, yellow-breasted chat, dusky flycatcher, western wood-peewee, Say’s phoebe, both eastern and western kingbirds, black-headed grosbeak, and Bullock’s oriole. 

The Bridgeport Bar unit of the Wells Wildlife Area in Douglas County along the Columbia River is a good spot to look for American white pelicans, along with gadwall, wigeon, and both blue-winged and cinnamon teal ducks. Loggerhead shrikes and many songbird species that use riparian, grassland, and agricultural habitats, from common yellowthroats to Savannah sparrows, are also seen.

The Big Buck and Big Valley units and other parts of the Methow Wildlife Area in Okanogan County has Lazuli buntings, red-eye, and warbling vireos, veeries, Swainson’s thrush, cedar waxwings, gray flycatchers, and six species of woodpeckers. 

If you do take advantage of the many birding opportunities, remember to enjoy the birds from a distance and give them space. A good rule of thumb is to stay at least 400 feet or more away from nest sites or from loons that are showing signs of distress or disturbance, including calling, and slapping the water with their wings.

The North Central Washington Audubon Society has a wealth of information and summer activities for bird watchers.

Wildflowers and butterflies

Wildflowers are in full bloom throughout Washington, which means butterflies and bees are enjoying them too. Yarrow, desert parsley, phlox, bitterroot, lupine, veiny dock, and other wildflowers are brightening up the Columbia Basin landscape. At least 86 species of butterflies – including swallowtails, skippers, azures, blues, whites, sulphurs, nymphs, crescents, fritillaries, and more – have been documented on the Sinlahekin Wildlife Area in Okanogan County, and June and July are the best months to see the greatest variety.

Wildlife Area closure notice

A portion of the Big Valley Unit of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) Methow Wildlife Area is closed through the end of September to protect a pair of nesting sandhill cranes. These birds are a state endangered species and the only known pair of nesting sandhill cranes ever documented in the Methow Valley. These birds are also extremely wary and repeated disturbance often results in nest desertion and increases the likelihood of predation by other species on unattended nests. For this reason, it is important for humans to stay outside of the nesting area.

For birdwatchers who want to take advantage of this unique wildlife viewing opportunity, the cranes can often be seen from points outside the closed area. WDFW requests that birdwatchers trying to catch a glimpse of the birds observe all traffic laws and respect private property. WDFW Police officers patrol the area regularly and will keep a close watch to ensure no one disturbs the cranes or acts irresponsibly.

The Methow Wildlife Area is comprised of shrub steppe, meadow-steppe, grasslands, and dry coniferous ponderosa pine forests and provides migratory corridors and habitat for mule deer herds and other fish and wildlife from songbirds to salmon. These lands also provide access for wildlife viewing, hunting, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, cross-country skiing, and other recreation.

Negative wildlife interactions

Small animals like raccoons, skunks, and marmots are more active throughout the region in rural and urban environments this time of year as they care for new young. They can create negative interactions with humans when they make nests in places such as crawl spaces, under porches or corners of garages or sheds in which to give birth. Learn how to enjoy these wildlife neighbors without problems at WDFW’s Living with Wildlife webpages.

Summer is a busy time for the birth of baby animals. A reminder that 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.

Conserving species and habitats

Washington wildfire information

New 100 yard target shooting range
Photo by WDFW

Updated as of Wednesday, June 26:

Fire restrictions and closures

Starting July 1, the following activities are restricted on WDFW-managed lands in Eastern Washington:   

  • Fires or campfires, including those in fire rings. Personal camp stoves and lanterns fueled by propane, liquid petroleum, or liquid petroleum gas are allowed.
  • Discharging firearms for target shooting or other purposes, aside from lawful hunting, unless otherwise posted. Target shooting is permitted daily from sunrise to 10 a.m. through Aug. 15 only at two Department shooting ranges: 
    • Methow Shooting Range, Methow Wildlife Area Unit
    • Asotin Creek Shooting Range, Asotin Creek Wildlife Area Unit
      • From Aug. 16 through Sept 15, restrictions prohibit discharging firearms for target shooting on all WDFW-managed lands (including the previously mentioned target-shooting ranges) in Eastern Washington, unless otherwise posted.
  • Smoking, except in an enclosed vehicle. Do not throw lit cigarettes out your window.
  • Welding and operating chainsaws, including the use of an acetylene torch or other open flame.
  • Operating a motor vehicle away from developed roads. Parking is permitted within designated parking areas, including developed campgrounds and trailheads; and in areas without vegetation that are within 10 feet of roadways.

For more information about fires and fire prevention on public lands, visit the Washington Department of Natural Resources website or the U.S. Forest Service website.

Meet your Regional Director - Brock Hoenes

Brock Hoenes
Photo by WDFW
Brock Hoenes, North Central Regional Director

Brock Hoenes is the North Central Region (Region 2) Director. Brock started his career with WDFW in 2008 and has held positions with the department including ungulate section manager, assistant district wildlife biologist, district wildlife biologist, statewide WDFW elk specialist, and deer and elk section manager.

Prior to moving to Washington, Hoenes worked for the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish and the New Mexico Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit on a variety of research projects focused on mule deer, bighorn sheep, elk, cougars, black bears, and pronghorn. Hoenes received his B.S. in Fish and Wildlife Management from the University of Missouri-Columbia and his M.S. in Wildlife Sciences from New Mexico State University.