Discover North Central Washington


North Central - Region 2

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

Counties served
Adams, Chelan, Douglas, Grant, Okanogan
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

A man on an iced over lake with fish on the ice
Photo by Jason Hord

Ice fishing 

With winter weather all over the place so far this year, it’s hard to predict how ice fishing will be in February.  Popular ice fishing lakes include Rat, Upper and Lower Green, Leader, Bonaparte, Patterson, and others that you can find on WDFW’s ice fishing web page. Anglers can target trout or warmwater species like yellow perch, crappie, and bluegill. Fish Lake in Chelan County, about 16 miles north of Leavenworth, offers good fishing for yellow perch, rainbow trout, and the occasional kokanee through the ice. There are lots of ice fishing options in Grant County, with some of the most popular being Banks Lake, Moses Lake, and Potholes Reservoir.

A reminder that, with a stretch of arctic temperatures followed by warm temps and rain at the end of January, ice conditions could be hit and miss if we don’t get a stretch of sustained overnight temps below freezing. WDFW is not able to monitor ice depth so please use extreme caution. Do not even walk onto ice if it can't be confirmed to be four or more inches thick. Otherwise use an auger or chainsaw to measure ice depth and make multiple holes (but be careful to make sure your holes aren’t large enough for people who come along later to fall through) to check as you work your way out to where you plan to fish. Never fish alone and spread members of your party out to avoid too much weight on one area of ice. To find out more on how to safely fish on an ice-covered lake, where to fish, and what equipment to use, go to the WDFW ice fishing website.

The Bonaparte Lake Resort Ice Fishing Derby is Feb. 27. The lake is located north of Tonasket in Okanogan County. For details, call 509-486-2828 or click on the Bonaparte Lake Resort website.

Trout and warmwater fish species

Photo by Michael Lockleer

There are numerous lakes offering year-round trout fishing opportunities. For instance, WDFW planted

nearly 14,000 rainbow trout in Roses Lake in Chelan County. Lake Chelan should continue to produce not lake trout and cutthroat trout, but also kokanee and a few landlocked Chinook salmon throughout the winter months.

Columbia River reservoirs Lake Roosevelt and Rufus Woods Lake are places to try for rainbow trout in February, with catches of kokanee, burbot, and walleye happening throughout the winter. Banks Lake, located in northern Grant County, provides fishing for lake whitefish, rainbow trout, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and walleye. Head to Rocky Ford Creek for large rainbow trout and a reminder only fly-fishing is allowed, and this catch-and-release fishery can provide excellent winter fishing.

Eastside river options

Fishing for whitefish in the Methow, Similkameen, and Entiat rivers will close at the end of February. Remember whitefish fisheries can close at any time due to impacts to Endangered Species Act-listed species, so check for fishing rule changes before heading out.

White sturgeon fishing

A white sturgeon
Photo by WDFW

There are catch-and-release sturgeon fishing opportunities on the Columbia River from Priest Rapids Dam to Chief Joseph Dam. Start fishing in the deep holes below the dams. Sturgeon could be anywhere in these pools, but the tailraces are a good starting location. Be sure to check on specific regulations and harvest limits for this fishery by clicking on the WDFW website.


Mixed species

Numerous Region 2 lakes offer year-round trout fishing opportunities. Fish Lake in Chelan County is a good producer of yellow perch and trout during the winter, especially after the lake is fully iced over.  PattersonBonaparteSidley, and Molson lakes in Okanogan County should produce some action for rainbow trout.

Moses Lake and Potholes Reservoir in the Columbia Basin should be decent for yellow perch, black crappie, bluegill, largemouth bass, walleye, and smallmouth bass.

Just south of Potholes Reservoir, Corral and Blythe lakes offer great trout fishing as well. Corral is also good for bass and crappie. To the southeast, Janet and the Sage lakes offer trout fishing opportunities year-round.

Sprague Lake, on the Adams-Lincoln county line, continues to be productive for largemouth bassblack crappie, perch, and also rainbow trout.

Hunting opportunities and news

Upland game bird

Pheasant, quail, partridge and forest grouse hunting have closed statewide as of Jan 15. Only chukar hunting remains open until January 31.

Waterfowl hunting

Snow goose landing in field with wings forward
Photo by Austin Lindell

Youth, veterans and active military can take part in a special statewide waterfowl hunt on Feb. 3 (see page 14 of pamphlet). This can be a quality experience for those who qualify as the number of hunters are limited and wetlands are often opening back up as the weather warms in eastern Washington, bringing more birds back up from the south.

A snow goose late season hunt will occur this month during certain dates in a few Goose Management Areas. Hunters should check WDFW website for specific areas where hunting is allowed and other rules. Opportunities will mostly occur in the Tri-Cities and around Moses Lake and Potholes reservoir. Scouting and private lands access will be key to consistent success. The geese will be migrating northward and typically, can be found in groups throughout February and March. For details, go to our waterfowl regulations pamphlet.


Late cougar hunting season runs from Jan. 1 to April 30 or when the harvest guideline is reached, whichever occurs first. Check out the WDFW Cougar hunting area openings and closures web page for more information.

Wildlife watching and recreation

Regardless of the targeted species (birds or large mammals), wildlife viewers are urged to avoid disturbing wintering wildlife at this critical time of year and do their viewing from open roads, parking areas or winter-maintained trails, and avoid off-road/trail travel.

Bird watching

Blue birds
Photo by Justin Haug

Birdwatchers are encouraged to use eBird Northwest website, the online tool for identifying birds, reporting their sightings, and contributing to conservation efforts throughout the region.

You can do some great bird watching on area public lands. Many of the 13 units of the Columbia Basin Wildlife Area provide road or trail access to areas where views are available, especially with binoculars, scopes, and telephoto camera lenses. Ice-free water along the major river courses is a good place to see both swan species and other waterfowl.

You can spot snowy owls in February on the Waterville Plateau, and some winters see reports of gyrfalcons on the Waterville plateau or in northern Douglas County. More predictable winter residents of Douglas County are the flocks of snow buntings which begin to arrive in earnest by late November. Gray-crowned rosy finches, which breed in high alpine environments but winter at lower elevations, are a popular to view bird in Okanogan County. Gray-crowned rosy-finches are also sighted sporadically in Chelan and Douglas counties each winter.

The Methow River is an ideal spot for viewing mergansers, rafts of goldeneyes, and dippers. There’s a spot on the ski trail system that runs along the river just west of the Methow Town trailhead that is particularly scenic, although it will require a ski pass to access. The open shrubsteppe areas are good spots to see northern winter migrants such as rough-legged hawks and the occasional snowy owl. The Cameron Lake Road on the Colville Reservation is quite popular with birders.

The usual patrons of backyard bird feeding stations- including finches, juncos, chickadees, and nuthatches- are showing up where meals are offered or water is provided. Several woodpecker species that normally feed on insects may be attracted to suet feeders. 

Deer, elk and sheep (ungulates)

Two people watching an elk herd
Photo by WDFW

Disturbance of wintering deer is of particular concern in the Methow watershed where seasonal public access closures are now in effect on portions of the Methow Wildlife Area. For more information on the closures see this link visit the Methow Wildlife Area Information web page. Instead of hiking into areas where deer are trying to forage, try viewing them from the road on WDFW Wildlife Areas along Bear Creek Road in the Methow and along the county road in the Sinlahekin. Bighorn sheep are frequently seen near the town of Loomis or along Highway 97 near Mt Hull.


Conserving species and habitats

Shed antlers

February is a difficult time for wintering deer and elk, and we recommend that serious shed hunters postpone 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 (see Methow closures above). The easiest antler hunting is, of course, where deer or elk concentrate in the winter. But if many antler hunters descend on that area when animals are most energetically challenged, the disturbance can threaten their survival at the harshest time of year. Public lands across the state may have rules regarding shed hunting, so do your homework before going afield, and secure permission from private landowners before entering their properties.

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. 


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.