Discover North Central Washington


"We want to be your destination for fun in the outdoors. Your support of the agency is a critical component to our staff’s ability to provide you services and opportunities."

~ Region 2 Director Jim Brown. Read Jim's full budget message below, or learn more about our 2020 supplemental budget.

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

Director: Jim Brown

1550 Alder Street NW
Ephrata, WA 98823-9699


Telephone: 509-754-4624

Fax: 509-754-5257

Fish Washington this January

A man holds a trout he caught
John Bigley

Winter-only lake fishing: Three lakes in Okanogan County have been open for “catch and keep” rainbow trout fishing since the first of December – Rat Lake near Brewster and Big Green and Little Green lakes near Omak. All three lakes switched from a catch-and-release regulation to a five-trout daily catch limit. These fisheries provide good angling throughout the winter months, either iced-over as they usually are by January or in open water.

The 16th Annual Northwest Ice Fishing Festival is Saturday, Jan. 18, on Sidley and Molson lakes in Okanogan County. The annual event is sponsored by the Oroville Chamber of Commerce and hosted by the Molson Grange. 

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 4-inches thick. As much as nine inches may be needed to safely support snowmobiles or other vehicles.

Trout/mixed species: Roses Lake in Chelan County has recently been stocked with about 4,000 catchable sized rainbow trout, and there should be about another 14,000 stocked later this month. 

Also there have been some improvements to the WDFW access at Roses Lake. The access road and parking lot has been newly paved since mid-October. Improvements also include a new double vault toilet (restroom facility) and a fishing platform with ADA access. 

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.

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

Year-round waters: Year-round-open Moses Lake in Grant County is usually a good choice for yellow perch. Potholes Reservoir, also open year-round, usually produces nice rainbow trout this month. 

Columbia River reservoirs Lake Roosevelt and Rufus Woods Lake are good choices for rainbow trout in December, with catches of kokanee, burbot, 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. 

January hunting tips and news

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 Jan. 26.

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 from Monday Jan. 20 to Sunday, Jan 26, hunting is open all days.

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. 20 for pheasant, quail, chukar, and gray partridge. 

Alan Bauer

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 sharptailed grouse in some areas. Sharptails, 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 sharptails vocalize a “tuck, tuck, tuck” when flushed and have sharply pointed tails with white borders.

Spring black bear permit applications: The application period for special spring bear hunting permits begins Jan. 2 and runs through Feb. 28, 2020. You can find details on the Details are on the Spring Black Bear Special Permit Hunts webpage

Big game reports due: Hunters who bought tags for black bear, deer, elk or turkey must submit their reports on their hunting activities by Jan. 31, 2020 for each 2019 license, permit or tag. Hunters can file their reports by calling 877-945-3492, or online, starting with “ID and Birthdate” under Log-In. Whether reporting online or over the phone, hunters should follow the prompts until they receive a confirmation number for each report.

January wildlife viewing

First Day Hikes: Washington State Parks invites you to start the new year off with a First Day Hike on Jan. 1 at more than three-dozen state parks, including Alta Lake, Bridgeport, Lake Chelan, Lake Wenatchee, Lincoln Rock, Pearrygin Lake, and Sun Lakes-Dry Falls. These ranger-led events include snowshoe treks, fat-tire bike rides, and other wildlife viewing opportunities. Jan. 1 is also the first of 12 “free days” – Jan. 15 is another – when visitors will not need to display the Discover Pass to gain access to state parks.

Winter hikers enjoying Forde Lake in the snow.
Winter hike to Forde Lake in Okanogan County.

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 and the Chelan CBC is on Jan. 4.

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.

Wildlife tracking: It’s a good time to take in a “Nature of Winter” snowshoe tour in the Methow Valley of Okanogan County. These family-friendly tours sponsored by the Methow Valley Sport Trails Association (MVSTA) are on Saturdays. The tours, running 90 minutes to two-hours, begin at 11 a.m. A MVSTA trail pass or a MVSTA snowshoe trail pass is required for each person.

Passes and snowshoe rentals are available at Sun Mountain Ski Shop, North Cascades Basecamp, Mazama Ski Shop, Methow Cycle & Sport and Winthrop Mountain Sports. Space is available on a first-come, first-serve basis. For more information call MVSTA at 996-3287 or see the MVSTA website

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. 

A budget message from Jim

Jim Brown, North Central Region Director
Jim Brown, North Central Region Director

The North Central Region (Region 2) has a vast diversity of fish and wildlife species across a variety of habitats from the rugged North Cascades forests of the Pasayten Wilderness to the open glacial period flood-carved shrub steppe of the Columbia Basin. I am happy to introduce you to all that Region 2 has to offer. 

We have several major salmon fisheries for Chinook salmon, Sockeye salmon, and Steelhead. Thanks to our partners at the Yakama Nation, we also have emerging fisheries which include recovering Coho runs of salmon. We work with the Colville Tribes on salmon fisheries and wildlife management that benefit tribal and non-tribal users alike.  

We are home to seven Columbia River hydroelectric projects, including Grand Coulee Dam and Columbia Basin Project. The Columbia Basin Project uses water from Lake Roosevelt to produce nearly 700,000 acres of irrigated crop lands, which contributes Washington’s economy and feeds our region. Through this project, we manage thousands of acres for recreation like water sports, hunting, fishing, hiking, and wildlife viewing. 

We are home to Washington’s largest mule deer herd and numerous other huntable big game species.  Our private lands staff use voluntary cooperative programs to work with large landowners to develop and implement strategies on their own lands to provide hunting access opportunities and enhance wildlife habitat.

Our region staff is a small team who manage within a diverse, vast landscape. We have some of the most dedicated people I have ever had the pleasure of working with. We struggle in difficult budgeting periods such as we face today, to provide the adequate equipment and funding resources to be as effective in our work. To respond to this challenge, we have improved efficiencies and to use resources across programs, wherever possible. 

Additionally, we work with local land trusts, outdoor recreation, hunting, and fishing sport groups to implement projects that enhance and maintain healthy fish and wildlife populations thrive in the region.  We are partnering with Chelan County Natural Resources Department in the Stemilt Basin on current and future forest restoration, management, and implementing of their new multiple use recreation plan. 

In fiscal year 2018, 6,300 people bought a Columbia River Salmon and Steelhead Endorsement in Chelan and Douglas counties. The endorsement was eliminated in July 2019, means reduced funding for required Endangered Species Act monitoring and enforcement of Lake Wenatchee and Okanogan River Sockeye, Wenatchee River spring and summer Chinook, summer steelhead, and other fisheries in the upper Columbia and its tributaries. We are asking for $3 million per biennium to maintain these services on an ongoing basis, and avoid impacts to salmon and steelhead fishing, which so many our residents and visitors enjoy, and a significant segment of the local economy relies upon.

WDFW enforcement officers responded to 104 public safety wildlife incidents in Chelan and Douglas counties in 2018. Our wildlife conflict staff expand the work of our department beyond emergency response by providing technical assistance tools to reduce negative human-wildlife interactions and promote non-lethal options. Proposed reductions to conflict management services would leave the department less able to assist with issues beyond those that are not either mandated or issues of public safety. 

Your support of the agency is a critical component to our staff’s ability to provide you services and opportunities. We want to be your destination for fun in the outdoors.  We have sun and four distinct seasons, no matter what part of the region you travel to, come visit us - you won’t be disappointed!

Have a great fall and fun filled winter!  Jim

Watch Jim Brown and Kelly Susewind's digital open house.

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