Discover North Central Washington

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

Director: Vacant 

Acting directors: 

  • Mike Livingston (Chelan, Douglas, Grant)
  • Steve Pozzanghera (Okanogan, Adams)

1550 Alder Street NW
Ephrata, WA 98823-9699

Email: TeamEphrata@dfw.wa.gov

Telephone: 509-754-4624

Fax: 509-754-5257

January fishing tips and news

These fisheries provide good angling throughout the winter months, either iced-over as they usually are by January or in open water.

A fishermen holds up two large trout
John Bigley

Ice fishing

A reminder that lakes can be dangerous this time of year when they are freezing, thawing, and re-freezing. While ice safety can never be assured, do not go out onto a frozen lake unless the ice it at least four inches thick. As much as nine inches may be needed to safely support snowmobiles or other vehicles.

Selective gear trout lakes

Rat Lake near Brewster, the Green lakes near Omak, and Davis Lake near Winthrop are popular ice fishing, selective gear, trout lakes in Okanogan County (no bait, daily limit 2 trout >14”).

Trout/mixed species

Leader lake near Okanogan, Bonaparte Lake east of Tonakset, Palmer Lake near Loomis, and Patterson Lake near Winthrop are popular mixed species lakes with intermittent snow plowing of the parking access sites. Anglers frequently target panfish (no limit) and bass (statewide regulations) in addition to recently stocked rainbow and tiger trout (5 trout daily limit). Kokanee trout in Bonaparte, Palmer, and Patterson are steadily growing in popularity (10 kokanee daily limit). Sidley and Molson lakes near Molson are also generously stocked with catchable trout each fall.

Lake Chelan has been producing a few limits of Kokanee for willing boat anglers. Most Kokanee have been ranging in size from 10-12 inches. For anglers fishing from shore, winter can be a great time of year to catch cutthroat trout. Casting spinners, spoons, and jigs around docks, bridges and riprap shorelines can be very productive. As a reminder, only “marked” cutthroat trout that have had their adipose fin clipped are legal to keep on Lake Chelan.

Roses Lake in Chelan County was recently stocked with catchable sized rainbow, brown, and tiger trout, which should provide good fishing from shore, boat, or through the ice throughout the winter.

Fish Lake, also in Chelan County, is popular for both rainbow trout and yellow perch. Neither of these year-round-open waters had ice going into January, but both will provide good ice fishing when freezing temperatures are consistent enough to provide safe ice.

The Antilon Lakes can provide some good ice fishing for crappie and brown trout once there is enough ice. The road to these lakes is typically gated in the winter at the snow park, so access is about a quarter mile by foot or snow machine to the lower lake and about a mile and a half to the upper lake.

Year-round waters

Year-round-open Moses Lake in Grant County is usually a good choice for yellow perchPotholes Reservoir, also open year round, usually produces nice rainbow trout this month. Walleye fishing on Moses Lake near the western I-90 bridge has been good for anglers using 3-4” grubs fished on the bottom. Some larger walleye (over 22 inches) have been reported. As a reminder, only one walleye over 22” may be retained.

Many lakes in Grant County are open year-round and provide good fishing in winter. Corral, Janet, Heart, Sage(s), Virgin, Windmill, and Billy Clapp lakes are a few that have been producing good catches of rainbow trout in 2020.

Rocky Ford Creek was recently stocked with several thousand catchable rainbow trout. This fly-fishing only, catch-and-release fishery can provide excellent winter fishing. 

Columbia River reservoirs Lake Roosevelt and Rufus Woods Lake are good choices for rainbow trout in December, with catches of kokaneeburbot, and walleye through the winter.

Banks Lake is a great choice for anglers in search of lake whitefish. There’s no size limit, and up to 15 whitefish can be taken daily. 

Share your volunteer photos

We want to see the outstanding work you’ve done to benefit fish and wildlife! We're grateful for all the volunteers who provide their time and talents by contributing to projects that benefit fish, wildlife, and habitat. Volunteer hunter education instructors are committed to ensuring that hunters have safe, legal, and ethical hunts. Many volunteers work directly with WDFW, but many also volunteer through partnerships and local projects around the state.

Share your photos or videos of your volunteer time with us at wdfw.wa.gov/share and select the category "Volunteer Activities". 

Hunting opportunities this January

Waterfowl

January is the last – and can often be the best – month for waterfowl hunting. Migrant ducks and geese from the north are in the region and if large bodies of water remain open for their roosting use, they can provide good hunting opportunities through the end of the season. 

Hunting retriever carries back a duck in its mouth
Hunting retriever carries harvested duck. Richard Eltrich

Goose hunters throughout the region, which is part of Goose Management Area 4, have extra days this month near the holidays. Usually goose hunting is allowed only on Saturdays, Sundays, and Wednesdays, but waterfowl hunters can also head out Friday, Jan. 1 and Monday, Jan. 18.

You can find Hunt By Reservation, Feel Free to Hunt, and Register to Hunt programs on our Private Lands page. Hunters must follow rules established per site. For more information on these hunting opportunities on private land in the Columbia Basin, contact the North Central Region office at 509-754-4624.

Upland game birds

Hunting continues through Jan. 18 for pheasant, quail, chukar, and gray partridge. Numbers of birds are fairly good in the Columbia Basin, where they should hold well with the accumulated snow cover. Be sure to secure permission first to hunt private lands or check out public lands like WDFW’s Desert Unit of the Columbia Basin Wildlife Area Complex between Potholes Reservoir and the town of George.

Upland game-bird hunters in Douglas and Okanogan counties are reminded to carefully identify birds before shooting because of protected sharp-tailed grouse in some areas. Sharp-tails, which are designated as threatened and off-limits to hunting, can sometimes be confused with the smaller Hungarian partridge or chukar partridge. In the winter, both species occupy the same habitats, but sharp-tails vocalize a “tuck, tuck, tuck” when flushed and have sharply pointed tails with white borders.

Report your harvest by Jan. 10 to win a special permit

Hunters who report their 2020 black bear, deer, elk, or turkey hunting results by Sunday, Jan. 10, will have the opportunity to win one of nine deer and elk incentive permits for fall 2021.

To qualify for the drawing, hunters must submit a report by Jan. 10 for each black bear, deer, elk, or turkey tag they purchased, and each special hunting permit they received in 2020. The permits will be valid from Sept. 1 through Dec. 31, 2021.

Hunter reports are due by Jan. 31. Failure to meet the deadline can result in a $10 reporting fee, which hunters must pay when they buy a license for the 2021 season. Hunters can report online.

Share your volunteer photos

We want to see the outstanding work you’ve done to benefit fish and wildlife! We're grateful for all the volunteers who provide their time and talents by contributing to projects that benefit fish, wildlife, and habitat. Volunteer hunter education instructors are committed to ensuring that hunters have safe, legal, and ethical hunts. Many volunteers work directly with WDFW, but many also volunteer through partnerships and local projects around the state.

Share your photos or videos of your volunteer time with us at wdfw.wa.gov/share and select the category "Volunteer Activities". 

Wildlife viewing close to home

Recreational access update

Two roads on the Sinlahekin Wildlife Area will be closed for the winter starting Jan. 1. Chiliwist Butte Road on the Chiliwist Unit of the wildlife area and Zachman Road on the Sinlahekin unit will be closed until May 1, 2021 to reduce winter damage to the roads and reduce stress on wintering mule deer. One or both roads could reopen sooner, depending on conditions. Gates will block access to the roads and signs will be posted to notify the public of the closure. Recreationists will still be able to access the areas on foot but are asked to give wildlife plenty of space.

First Day Hikes

Start the new year off right with a day outdoors! Jan. 1 is also the first of 12 "free days" when visitors don't need to display the Discover Pass to gain access to state parks. To discourage the spread of COVID-19, rangers will not guide First Day Hikes. Check out the State Parks' blog Adventure Awaits for several ideas for self-led First Day Hikes and activities. 

Hikers are reminded to #RecreateResponsibly by hiking only with members of their household, socially distancing from other groups, and wearing face coverings with passing on busy trails. 

A pair of deer stand alert in a snowy field.
Susan Jensen

Birds

January is a good month for birdwatching, because interesting migrants are often in or moving through the region and most birds are more visible with snow cover.

January is often when we get our first reports of snowy owls on the Waterville Plateau. Gray-crowned rosy finches are also a popular target bird in January in Okanogan County.

The final round of Christmas Bird Counts wrap up in early January.

The Columbia Basin is full of waterfowl species now – mostly Canada geese and mallards, but also gadwall, goldeneye, scaup, shoveler, and more. Roadside viewing from the comfort of a heated motor vehicle is possible with the network of roads across private farmland south of Moses Lake near the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge.  

Further north in the region, snow buntings, longspurs, northern pygmy owls, gyrfalcons, and other winter visitors can be seen, along with year-round resident raptors, jays, woodpeckers, nuthatches, chickadees, and other birds.

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

Shed antlers

January 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. 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 antler hunters should do their homework before going afield. And secure permission from private landowners before entering their properties. 

Educational activities for families

Looking for fun ways to engage your kids and have fun together as a family? Check out our educational resources for themed lessons and activities you can enjoy together as a family.

Wild Washington lesson plans for educators

WDFW is also offering a new service this year for educators - wildlife-themed curriculum for grades 3-12. Check out the Wild Washington curriculum and share with the parents and teachers you know. 

Share your volunteer photos

We want to see the outstanding work you’ve done to benefit fish and wildlife! We're grateful for all the volunteers who provide their time and talents by contributing to projects that benefit fish, wildlife, and habitat. Volunteer hunter education instructors are committed to ensuring that hunters have safe, legal, and ethical hunts. Many volunteers work directly with WDFW, but many also volunteer through partnerships and local projects around the state.

Share your photos or videos of your volunteer time with us at wdfw.wa.gov/share and select the category "Volunteer Activities". 

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. Some areas can become dangerous wither winter conditions. Research your destination, as roads and facilities may be closed in winter.
  • Explore locally. Consider exploring locally, as driving and parking may be more challenging in winter. If you travel, be mindful of your impact on native and local communities. 
  • Plan ahead. Check local conditions and prepare for the elements, packing extra layers, waterproof clothing, and avalanche safety gear for the backcountry.
  • Leave no trace. Did you know that snow is our water supply? Keep our winter playgrounds clean. Pack out any human or pet waste and be respectful of the land.
  • Practice physical distancing. Be prepared to cover your nose and mouth. When possible, opt to eat and rest outside. If you feel sick, stay home.
  • Play it safe. Know your limits and your gear. Slow down and choose lower-risk activities to reduce your risk of injury. 
  • Build an inclusive outdoors. Everyone deserve to experience a winter wonderland. Be an active part of making the outdoors safe, accessible, and welcoming for all identities and abilities. 

Event calendar

Types of events

  • Community event
  • Key date