Discover North Central Washington

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Customer service staff in the Ephrata Regional Office and the Wenatchee District 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.

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

Director: Brock Hoenes

1550 Alder Street NW
Ephrata, WA 98823-9699

Email: TeamEphrata@dfw.wa.gov

Telephone: 509-754-4624

Fax: 509-754-5257

May fishing tips and news

Trout fishing

two young children sitting on a dock with several fish they have caught
Kevin Butner Kevin Butner

The lowland lakes trout fishing opener on April 23 started off on a high note, and with plenty of trout planted across the region, it’ll likely remain good through spring.

During the April 23 opener, 2,432 anglers surveyed statewide caught 7,794 trout and released 2,629 for an average of 3.2 caught and 2.1 kept per angler. In Region 2, creel surveys taken at seven lakes showed 284 anglers kept 794 trout and released 61 for an average of 3.0 caught and 2.8 kept per angler.

In Okanogan County, Pearrygin Lake had 22 anglers checked on the opener with six trout kept and one released for 0.3 fish caught and 0.2 kept per angler. In Grant County, Park Lake had 38 anglers checked with 81 trout kept for 2.1 kept per angler; Blue Lake had 46 anglers checked with 53 trout kept for 1.1 kept per angler; and Deep Lake had 57 anglers checked with 219 trout kept and 22 released for 4.2 caught and 3.8 kept per angler.

In Adams County, Warden Lake had 47 anglers checked with 167 trout kept and 32 released for 4.2 caught and 3.5 kept per angler. In Douglas County, Jameson Lake had 17 anglers with 27 trout kept for 4.5 kept per angler. In Chelan County, Wapato Lake had 57 anglers with 191 fish kept (170 rainbow trout, 21 kokanee) and six rainbow trout released for 3.5 caught and 3.4 kept per angler.

Other seasonal choices for rainbow trout are Conconully Lake, Conconully Reservoir and Alta Lake in Okanogan County. 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.

Lakes for rainbow trout in the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge are the Pillar-Widgeon Chain (Pillar, Snipe, Cattail, Gadwall, Poacher, Shoveler, Lemna, Hourglass, Sago, and Widgeon lakes). These walk-in lakes are consistent producers of quality trout and stocked with spring fingerling rainbows and popular destinations for fly anglers looking for a quiet day in a beautiful setting.

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife 2022 Trout Derby

WDFW Trout Derby

Try your luck now through Oct. 31 to catch 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, Pearrygin, Spectacle and Wannacut in Okanogan County. Learn more about WDFW's annual Trout Derby.

WDFW hosts kids fishing events throughout the year. Other fishing groups, clubs, and organizations such as the C.A.S.T. for Kids Foundation also host yearly events to promote youth fishing.

Year-round waters

Head to Lake Chelan’s lower basin for kokanee, lake trout and a few Chinook salmon. Lake Roosevelt and Rufus Woods Lake, impoundments of the Columbia River, are decent for large-sized rainbow trout and kokanee. Rufus Woods is also generating some walleye too. The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation Fish Program staff planted Rufus Woods Lake with 14,065 triploid rainbow trout averaging 1.5 pounds apiece in late April. In 2021, WDFW planted 63,000 kokanee into Fish Lake near Wenatchee, but you can also catch rainbow trout.

A man holds up a trout he caught in winter at Lake Roosevelt
Photo courtesy John Bigley

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.

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 and a few hundred larger (4-plus pounders) that were recently stocked.

Look for walleye fishing to pick up this month at Moses Lake in the Columbia Basin. In spring, the lake gets increased flows from Crab Creek when the local irrigation district turns on the water to the East and West Low canals. The higher flows coincide with the walleye spawning migration into Crab Creek that occurred in April. Try a three inch, dark-colored curly tail grub attached to a jig up to half-an-ounce to catch walleye. Make sure your jig is constantly bouncing along the bottom of the creek for the fish to see it. You can also catch walleye along the shore with a worm and bobber in the Cascade Valley area of Moses Lake.

The outlets of Moses Lake, where water enters the Potholes Reservoir, is a location to find pre-spawn, migrating walleye. Drift fishing a jig and grub especially at night can generate decent action, but this shore fishery does draw crowds. Moses Lake also produces some nice smallmouth bass in spring casting crankbaits, tube jigs and plastic worms.

The Potholes Reservoir is also a fun walleye fishery along with bank fishing for trout off the eastern shoreline. The 2022 Potholes Reservoir Walleye Fishing Prospects is a great resource, with information on walleye surveys completed in Potholes Reservoir last fall.

Other year-round lakes worth a try for trout are Sprague in Adams County; Fish and Roses in Chelan County; Banks, Billy Clapp, and Long in Grant County.

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. Pre-spawn walleye are abundant 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 starts to pick up this month with the warmer weather.

Lastly, anglers can start making plans for Washington’s statewide rivers, streams and beaver ponds that open the Saturday (May 28) before Memorial Day 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. It is likely Okanogan County rivers won’t be fishable until after spring snow-runoff is complete. Be sure to check for special regulations by clicking here.

Fishing for warmwater species in Central Washington


Want some insider info when it comes to catching warmwater fish species (bass, walleye, crappie, bluegill, and catfish)? The Warmwater Fishing Opportunities in Central Washington report just came out and it provides an overview of WDFW's warmwater fishing program, an update on walleye surveys, and prospects for Region 2 lakes.
 
Young angler holds up chinook salmon caught off the San Juan Islands
Jon Backman

Salmon fishing

The 2022-2023 salmon seasons have been tentatively 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. Learn more about the 2022-2023 salmon seasons.

New license reminder

Now that it’s spring, Washingtonians must have a new 2022-2023 recreational hunting and fishing licenses. Those age 15 or older must have an applicable fishing and/or shellfish license. Licenses are available online, by phone at 866-246-9453 or online, and from license dealers around the state.

Boating safety

With saltwater and freshwater 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.

Assistance needed for mass-marking salmon

WDFW is looking for volunteers and hiring paid positions to assist fin clipping salmon at statewide hatcheries that occurs for several months in the spring and early summer. Anyone interested in volunteering at a WDFW hatchery can click on the WDFW’s website. Anyone interested in applying for a paid marking position can look for positions in their area and apply through Kelly Services. These temporary, full-time positions pay $16.49 per hour with the ability to start immediately, no experience required, and training provided. Learn more about WDFW’s mass-marking program.

May hunting opportunities

A woman carries a harvested turkey
Joe Biggs

Wild turkey hunting

The statewide spring wild turkey hunting general season is open through May 31. For more information, visit the Wild Turkey hunting webpage, and click here for hunting prospects. If you are interested in giving turkey hunting a try but not sure how to get started or haven't been successful on your own in the past, there are opportunities to be accompanied by an experienced turkey hunter for mentored hunts in northeast Washington.

Special hunting permit application

Hunters can submit special hunt applications through May 19 for deer, elk, mountain goat, moose, bighorn sheep, and fall turkey seasons. WDFW will conduct a drawing from this year’s applicants to select 2022 permit winners by the end of June. Hunters who successfully draw a special permit gain the opportunity to hunt at special times or places, opportunities for ages and sexes of wildlife not usually allowed in general season hunts and hunting opportunities for species which aren’t abundant enough to allow general hunting seasons. Special hunt permits offer a chance to participate in a unique hunt while directly supporting conservation and management in Washington.

To apply for a deer or elk special permit, hunters must first buy a hunting license before applying with their preferred hunt choices. Applicants for mountain goat, moose, and bighorn sheep do not need to buy a license before they apply.

Instructions and details on applying for special permit hunts begin on page 16 of Washington’s 2022 Big Game Hunting Seasons and Regulations pamphlet, available on WDFW's website and in print at dealer locations across the state, and on the vendor website later this month.

Hunters can buy applications and licenses from license vendors, in-person at the Natural Resources Building in Olympia, regional offices, or on WDFW's WILD system. Hunters must submit applications at https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov/login. Hunters can also purchase a variety of general season licenses at these locations for hunting opportunities that do not require a special permit. Hunters buying and applying online must create a username and password in the Department’s WILD system if they have not already done so.

Most special hunt permit applications cost $7.10 for residents, $110.50 for non-residents, and $3.80 for youth under age 16. Resident applications for mountain goat, bighorn sheep ram, moose, and "quality" categories for deer and elk run $13.70. WDFW will post the results of the special hunt permit drawing online by the end of June. WDFW will also notify winners by mail or email by mid-July.

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 of late have been target shooting on private lands, leaving a mess. If you hunt private property, please be respectful. Visit the WDFW Medium to read about opportunities to hunt and recreate on private lands.

Hunter education

Hunter education

Most hunting seasons have ended, but it is best to prepare ahead on taking the hunter education course. These courses reinforce important firearm and hunting safety principles, hunting ethics, basic survival and first aid, 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.

May wildlife viewing opportunities

Two people view wildlife at Grays Harbor Shorebird Festival
Jason Wettstein

Bird migration

Bird watching is picking up throughout the region as migrants move into and through North Central Washington.

The Beebe Springs Unit of the Chelan Wildlife Area in Chelan County covers 162 acres on the Columbia River and hosts a wide-range of bird species, and May is one of the best months to see many of those birds, from colorful songbirds to waterfowl and birds of prey, including eagles. The Sinlahekin Wildlife Area and Big Valley Unit of the Methow Wildlife Area in Okanogan County are particularly good for bird watching, with trumpeter and tundra swans, goldeneye, bufflehead, ring-neck ducks, hooded mergansers, and more as well as viewing wildflowers in bloom.

The Scotch Creek Wildlife Area in Okanogan County and Wells Wildlife Area in Okanogan and Douglas counties can also provide good birding now. Look for a variety of waterfowl. dusky grouse will be begin mating this month and be sure to give the birds some space to conduct their courtship displays by using binoculars and scopes to watch. Other migrants- including bluebirds, blackbirds, grosbeaks, killdeer, and robins- are also being spotted throughout the region.

Grant and Adams counties in the WDFW’s Columbia Basin Wildlife Area and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Columbia National Wildlife Refuge are prime locations to see waterfowl and shorebirds this month of all kinds including Canada geese, tundra swans, and various duck and shorebird species.

There are several fun bird watching activities occurring this month:

Join the Wenatchee River Institute (WRI) and North Central Washington Audubon Society for the 20th annual Leavenworth Spring Bird Fest on May 19-22. Celebrate the connections between people, birds, and the natural world, and discover the natural beauty and wonders of North Central Washington as we welcome the return of migratory birds. Enjoy the excitement by joining in on a birding field trip, workshop, event, or activity. Bird Fest is back to fully in-person programs with some virtual and hybrid options. Click here to register for the event.

A woman watches birds through a spotting scope.

The International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD) is May 14 near the peak of many bird migrations, with birdwatchers looking for hundreds of bird species moving from their wintering grounds south of the U.S. border to nesting habitats in North America. Look for local birding events this month and next through the IMBD website or through local Washington Audubon chapter websites.

The Global Big Day of bird species counting is May 14, sponsored by eBird, and other partners. Birdwatchers of all experience levels can spend 10 minutes or the full 24 hours of that day counting bird species seen or heard anywhere, from backyards to public wildlife areas, and report them on-line to boost the world-wide citizen scientist database.

Closeup of a Columbia spotted frog being held in a hand
Keaton Wilson - Creative Commons

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, 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.

Negative wildlife interactions

May is a busy month 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. Click on this link to read about living with wildlife.

Black bears have also begun to emerge from their winter dens hungry and in search of calories after five months of not eating. During this time of increased activity, we're asking for your help to secure un-natural food sources to reduce bear encounters – especially around your home or while on the trail. Every year we see people who want to “help” fawns left alone in the forest but just because baby animals are alone does not mean they need help. Fight the urge to pick up and rescue bedded fawns — you might save their life. Click here for details: https://wdfw.medium.com/spring-babies-do-they-need-your-help-49a32b73b105 or Spanish version at https://wdfw.medium.com/deja-a-los-cervatillos-en-paz-9c25db43aca8.

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.

person hiking on a trail with mountains all around
Naomi Gross

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!

Recreate Responsibly

As the weather warms up and more folks head outdoors for spring-time activities, it is wise to #RecreateResponsibly for potential hazards and dangers.

Here are more tips on staying safe right now:

Plan ahead

  • Tell someone where you're going and when you expect to be home. Travel with a buddy when possible.
  • Always carry survival gear with you. The 10 Essentials include clothing, shelter, and food in case you must spend the night outside.
  • Have a reliable map and compass skills to traverse snow-covered trails. These can be challenging to follow, particularly in backcountry areas.
  • While electronic locators and communication can be helpful, they cannot be always be relied upon while in the backcountry.

Play it safe

  • Hazards, avalanche slopes and designated safe routes are not marked.
  • Have proper footwear with good traction, micro-spikes, extra clothing, water, and a headlamp.
  • Snow hides hazards like streams. Use your poles to poke snow before stepping on it if you hear water.
  • Stay on the trail, even if it means walking on snow or mud.
  • Turn around instead of crossing steep, snow–covered slopes. A fall could be disastrous.
  • Avoid stepping onto snow cornices as they may collapse under your weight. Assume that snow on the edge of precipices is unstable. Falling into snow moats around trees and near logs or rocks can cause injury. Avoid getting too close.
  • Weather can change quickly, causing hard-to-navigate conditions, including whiteouts or dangerous stream crossings due to rapid snowmelt.
  • Beware of avalanches. Snow is increasingly unstable this time of year and may slide or collapse.
  • Remember, you are responsible for your own safety!

May Habitat at Home

Habitat at Home: May is Gardening for Wildlife Month 

Butterfly on wildflower
Jim Cummins

Did you know that gardening with native plants can increase biodiversity and support human health and well-being? Support wildlife in your area this May by planting native species during Gardening for Wildlife month. Learn about the impact of wildlife gardens and find what species of plants are beneficial for wildlife in your region. You can also learn more by following the National Wildlife Federation’s Garden for Wildlife Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter.  Go to WDFW's Habitat at Home website for an introduction to native plant gardening.

Meet your Regional Director

Brock Hoenes
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.

Event calendar

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