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  More to do Outside!

July 2018
Region 1: Eastern Washington
(Asotin, Columbia, Ferry, Garfield, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Spokane, Stevens, Walla Walla and Whitman counties)
Lake Spokane rainbow trout
Lake Spokane rainbow trout

Warmwater/Mixed Species:As warm summer temperatures arrive, warmwater species fisheries should be in prime shape, says WDFW central district fish biologist Randy Osborne of Spokane.  Many are “mixed species” waters that also provide catches of trout.

Sprague Lake, sprawling across the Lincoln-Adams county line alongside Interstate 90, has nice largemouth bass.  Downs Lake, east of Sprague in Spokane County, has black crappie and yellow perch.  Liberty Lake, east of Spokane near the Idaho border, has largemouth and smallmouth bass, yellow perch, black crappie, and bluegillNewman Lake, east of Spokane, and Silver Lake in southwest Spokane County, both have tiger muskie, largemouth bass, and yellow perch.

Osborne reports that anglers fishing Lake Spokane (also known as Long Lake) are doing well on several species including rainbow trout, smallmouth and largemouth bass, yellow perch and black crappie.  An expanding walleye population has created an additional harvest opportunity for anglers on Lake Spokane. 

“Our recent fish surveys indicate that walleye are fairly abundant and growing to large sizes in that water,” Osborne said. “We encourage anglers to get out there and take advantage of this extra opportunity.”

Lake Roosevelt, the Columbia River reservoir off Grand Coulee Dam, is usually good in July for walleye and smallmouth bass, says WDFW district fish biologist Bill Baker of Colville. The sturgeon fishery that opened on Roosevelt in mid-June “until further notice” has been slow, so it remains open. 

Several other mixed-species waters should also provide catches, including Deer Lake in southern Stevens County for smallmouth and largemouth bass, Curlew Lake in Ferry County for largemouth bass and yellow perch, Diamond Lake near Newport in Pend Oreille County for yellow perch, and Waitts Lake in southern Stevens County for yellow perch. 

Long Lake walleye
Long Lake walleye

WDFW southeast district fish biologist Jeremy Trump says the Snake and Palouse rivers are usually good this month for smallmouth bass, channel catfish, and black crappie. The Grande Ronde River in Asotin County and the Tucannon River in Columbia and Garfield counties can also provide fair fishing in July for bass, trout and other species, at least until water levels drop with warmer weather. Anglers and others recreating in the area of these and other streams are reminded to not place rocks instream to dam up flows and create pools because they block fish movement.

Trout: Morning and evening fishing is productive this month on many northeast district trout waters, according to Baker. Even lakes at high elevation, like the Little Pend Oreille chain of lakes in Stevens and Pend Oreille counties, provide more opportunities early and late in the day by this time of year.

Osborne also notes that many central district trout waters continue to fish well at this time. Badger Lake, in southwest Spokane County, is producing catches of rainbow and westslope cutthroat trout, plus kokanee or silver trout. Williams Lake, just southwest of Badger Lake, has rainbow, cutthroat, and tiger troutFishtrap Lake, east of Sprague on the Lincoln-Spokane county line, has nice rainbows. 

Osborne notes that one of the district’s typically top-producing trout lakes is not fishing well this year due to illegal introductions of goldfish that are flourishing at the expense of trout. West Medical Lake, near the town of Medical Lake in southwest Spokane County, has been proposed for a fall rehabilitation treatment to restore the once excellent trout fishery.  Comments on the rehabilitation proposal were taken through June 13 and a decision on whether to proceed will be made in late July.

“It’s unlawful to stock any kind of fish in Washington without a department permit,” Osborne reminds anglers. “Failing to comply with this rule can cause devastating impacts to fisheries that the angling public depend on for recreation and food.” 

The Tucannon River impoundments on the Wooten Wildlife Area in Columbia County --  Big Four, Blue, Curl, Deer, Spring and Watson lakes -- are still producing catches of rainbow trout from hatchery plants, thanks to recent rain and overall cooler temperatures. WDFW Wooten Wildlife Area manager Kari Dingman reminds anglers that Rainbow Lake is closed this month to allow draining and re-construction completion. The access road to Deer Lake and Campground 3 will be closed soon, too, for re-construction work. Deer Lake will remain open for fishing throughout the project, but anglers will need to wade the river to reach it.

Z Lake, on the Swanson Lakes Wildlife Area in Lincoln County, is still at a fairly high level of water this summer so planted rainbow trout are likely doing well. Area manager Juli Anderson notes the number of anglers plying those waters is limited by the “walk-in only” requirement.

Other trout waters in the region have rule changes that go into effect July 1 with the new regulations pamphlet as part of the rule simplification process. Amber Lake, in southwest Spokane County, remains under selective gear rules and no internal combustion motors, but now has a daily limit of one trout at least 18 inches in length from March 1-Nov. 30.  Sprague Lake anglers will be allowed to harvest five trout of any size daily since the minimum size regulation was dropped.

Also as of July 1, the Spokane River from Nine Mile Dam upstream to the Idaho state line will now be managed as one stretch of river with selective gear and catch-and-release rules, except anglers are allowed to harvest a daily limit of two hatchery rainbow trout (those that are missing the adipose fin and a healed scar at the location of the clipped fin). 

“Anglers should carefully read the new fishing rules pamphlet and know the regulations on any water they intend to fish,” Osborne said.

Safety and fire restrictions: WDFW staff remind anglers that even during the heat of July, always wear life jackets when out on the water. Although water levels are dropping as summer advances, water temperatures may remain cool enough in many places for accidental or intentional slips into the water to be numbing.
Keep the Fourth of July fireworks at home since they’re prohibited year-round on all WDFW water access sites and wildlife areas statewide.

To further prevent wildfires, additional fire restrictions have been in effect since June 30 on all WDFW eastern Washington wildlife areas and water access sites. That means no fires, including campfires, of any kind; no smoking outside of vehicles; no use of chainsaws or welding equipment; and no operating motor vehicles of any kind off of developed roads and parking lots.

Hunter Education class
Hunter Education class

Hunter Education courses: Avoid the autumn rush and sign up now for a hunter education class. All hunters born after Jan. 1, 1972 must complete a hunter education course to purchase a hunting license. WDFW offers both traditional and online options to complete the hunter education training requirement.

The traditional classroom experience includes practical exercises and live-firing activities taught by certified volunteer instructors. The online class offers the same classroom content, but on the student's schedule. An in-person Field Evaluation Course is required with the online class for students to demonstrate what they have learned.

Anicia checkerspot butterfly feeding on purple coneflower
Anicia checkerspot butterfly feeding on purple coneflower
Photo credit: Doug Kuehn

Butterflies and wildflowers: Most of the region is in full wildflower bloom now, providing lots of foraging for butterflies.

Vetch, lupine, blanket flower, clarkia, wild onion, and yarrow blooms are brightening up the shrubsteppe habitats in the region. Wild rose, currant, thimbleberry, snowberry, milkweed, asters, and more are blooming in woodlands.
Swallowtails, fritillaries, whites, sulphurs, skippers, and nymphs are among the butterflies feeding on those and other flowers now. Dozens of butterfly species are common throughout the region, and although each has its favorite nectar sources,usually flat surfaced yellow and white flowers draw them. Learn more at WDFW’s butterflies webpage.

Birds: Every neotropical migrant bird species that moves into the region to breed is here now. Although leafed out trees can make spotting even the most colorful of them difficult, hearing their songs can make up for it.

Listen and watch for black-headed grosbeaks, Bullock’s orioles, Lazuli buntings, Swainson’s thrushes, warbling vireos, western tanagers, western wood-pewees, willow flycatchers, Say’s phoebes, MacGillivray’s and yellow warblers; eastern and western kingbirds; house, rock and marsh wrens; song, chipping, savannah, vesper, and Lincoln’s sparrows; tree, bank, violet-green, cliff, northern rough-winged, and barn swallows; and more.

“The songbirds are singing their little hearts out down in the valley bottom,” said Kari Dingman, WDFW manager of the Wooten Wildlife Area along the Tucannon River in Columbia County. ”You might not see them, but you can’t miss hearing them.”

WDFW Swanson Lakes Wildlife Area manager Juli Anderson says there are still an unusually large number of black-necked stilts feeding along the roadside shallows of the Swanson lakes where water levels remain high. Grebes, coots and “a smattering of dabbling duck species that aren’t going north” are also very visible at the Lincoln County area. Anderson says an adult bald eagle continues hanging around, too, usually perched on a power pole sticking out of the water.

Baby wildlife:  Everything from ducklings to moose calves are spotted throughout the region this month as young wildlife become more visible and independent.

WDFW Swanson Lakes Wildlife Area manager Juli Anderson reports hearing lots of coyote pups and adults yipping every evening on the Lincoln County area, and occasionally seeing them in the daytime.
Anderson also reports seeing lots of mule deer does throughout the wildlife area, most with fawns tucked in the tall grass nearby.

WDFW Wooten Wildlife Area manager Kari Dingman reports both mule deer and white-tailed deer fawns are being seen now as they follow their mothers. Bighorn sheep lambs and their ewes are hanging out on Hatchery Ridge above Deer Lake.

Wildlife viewers are reminded to keep their distance from young wildlife and use binoculars, scopes, and telephoto cameras lenses to enjoy them.

Bats:  Bats are especially active at this time of year throughout the region, hunting down insects at sunset and through cooler night-time hours, especially near waterways or irrigated lawns and gardens where insects are usually abundant. Several species occur in the Eastern Region, but the most common is probably the Little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus).

Bats have an undeserved bad reputation for spreading disease, but only one percent carry the rabies virus. Close encounters with bats more often involve individuals that are not acting normally. Never handle a live or dead bat without protective gear. Learn more about bats at WDFW’s Living with Bats webpage.

Snakes: Snakes are active this month, and while most are harmless and interesting to encounter and photograph, rattlesnakes should be avoided. Hikers are encouraged to stay on well-used, open trails where snakes warming themselves during early morning hours can be more easily seen. In brushy areas, use a walking stick to alert a snake of your approach and wear over-the-ankle boots and loose-fitting long pants. More information is available on WDFW’s Living with Snakes webpage.

Bears: Black bears are being seen in or near campgrounds and other outdoor recreation spots throughout the region as easy meals become more available and hotter conditions make natural food more scarce. All outdoor recreationists need to keep attractants, including garbage, out of reach and secure. Hikers and campers should carry bear spray in the rare event of a close encounter. More information is available on WDFW’s Living With Bears webpage.

Safety and fire restrictions: This year’s abundance of water has produced an abundance of mosquitoes. “It’s good for bats and swallows,” said WDFW Swanson Lakes Wildlife Area manager Juli Anderson, “but it’s bad for humans. Ticks are still out, too. Bring the bug spray along on your wildlife viewing trips.”

Keep the Fourth of July fireworks at home since they’re prohibited year-round on all WDFW water access sites and wildlife areas statewide.

To further prevent wildfires, additional fire restrictions have been in effect since June 30 on all WDFW eastern Washington wildlife areas and water access sites. That means no fires, including campfires, of any kind; no smoking outside of vehicles; no use of chainsaws or welding equipment; and no operating motor vehicles of any kind off of developed roads and parking lots.

Region One: Eastern Washington Region Two: North Central Washington Region Four: North Puget Sound Region Six: South Sound/Olympic Peninsula Region Five: Southwest Washington Region Three: South Central Washington