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May 2018
Region 2: Northcentral Washington
(Adams, Chelan, Douglas, Grant and Okanogan counties)
Young woman with son holding the trout caught at Wapato Lake on opening weekend.
William and Courtney made a nice catch
at Wapato Lake in Chelan County on opening weekend.

April 28 opening season: May is prime fishing month throughout the region with action heating up on waters that just opened April 28, along with those that have been open earlier. 

Rainy, cool weather may have kept opening day fishing crowds – and perhaps catch rates – down in some parts of the region, but WDFW creel checkers reported anglers were mostly happy to just be out and take home some rainbow trout when possible.

In Okanogan County, Pearrygin Lake anglers averaged almost four trout each, with the largest measured at 13 inches.  At Conconully Lake, anglers averaged 2.5 fish each, with many targeting kokanee that came in up to 17 inches. Anglers at Alta Lake, who also targeted kokanee, averaged under one fish each with the largest rainbow measured at 14 inches.  

In Douglas County, Jameson Lake saw an average of just under four trout caught per angler, with most in the 14-inch range. 

In Chelan County, Wapato Lake anglers averaged more than one trout each, with the largest measured at 17 inches. 

In Grant County, Park Lake  anglers averaged almost five trout each with fish up to about 15 inches.  Deep Lake had an average of almost four rainbows per angler with fish up to about 13 inches. Blue Lake anglers averaged a little over three trout each with fish up to a little over 15 inches. Warden Lake anglers averaged just under two trout each with 12.5 inches being the largest fish checked.

For more details, see 2018 Lowland Lakes Opening Day (April 22nd) Trout Creel Results.

Other trout waters: Lake Chelan kokanee fishing continues to be a good opportunity for boat anglers this month, says Travis Maitland, WDFW Chelan district fish biologist.

Last month’s 13 to 16-inch kokanee catches are improving in both size and bite. There’s no minimum size limit for Lake Chelan kokanee and the daily catch limit is 10 fish (which is not included in the five-trout daily limit). Recent kokanee tournament fishing was excellent.
 
The year-round-open Antilon Lakes, northwest of Chelan, are producing some nice brown troutLower Antilon typically fishes better than Upper Antilon, with 14 to 18-inch browns common. 

Trout lakes in the Columbia Basin that opened April 1 also continue to provide catches this month. Those lakes include North and South Teal lakes, Upper and Lower Hampton lakes, the Pillar-Widgeon chain of lakes on the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge, and Dry Falls Lake, a selective-gear-rule fishery near Coulee City.  

In Okanogan County, Spectacle Lake, just south of Loomis, continues to produce trout since it opened April 1.

Warmwater fish species:  May is usually the month when opportunities improve for catches of black crappie, bluegill, channel catfish, green sunfish, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, tiger muskie, walleye, and yellow perch

Banks Lake walleye fishing has been slow but should pick up this month as water temperatures rise. Yellow perch, lake whitefish, and rainbow trout are also in catches at Banks, both for boat and shore anglers.

Rufus Woods Lake, the Columbia River reservoir off Chief Joseph Dam, is improving for walleye fishing as the water warms.

Walleye fishing should also be picking up for both boat and shore anglers this month at Moses Lake, the big year-round water near the town of the same name in the Columbia Basin.

Potholes Reservoir’s walleye and smallmouth bass also start biting more this month for both boat and shore anglers.

Stan Coffin Lake, in the Quincy Wildlife Area, can be excellent fishing for largemouth bass now. Bass in this lake are targeting yellow perch in early spring and anglers should have good success fishing just offshore in eight to 10 feet of water.

Hutchinson and Shiner lakes on the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge in Adams County have lots of nice-sized largemouth bass and are best fished from a small boat, canoe, or float tube/pontoon boat. Internal combustion motors are prohibited.  

Washburn Island Pond, a diked oxbow lake off the Columbia River near Fort Okanogan State Park due east of Brewster, has largemouth bass, bluegill, and the occasional channel catfish. Combustible engines may not be used while fishing Washburn.

As temperatures warm this month and next on Wapato, Roses, and Dry lakes near Manson, anglers can expect catches of good-sized largemouth bass, along with crappie, bluegill and yellow perch.

In Okanogan County, Leader, Patterson, and Palmer lakes provide more panfish and bass than trout as the warmwater species begin spawning

Catch a fish, win a prize:  WDFW's lowland lake trout derby continues in May and runs through Oct. 31. Anglers with an applicable 2018-19 freshwater, combination, or all-in-one Fish Washington fishing license, who catch one of more than 1,000 tagged fish can claim prizes provided by license dealers located across the state. A list of lakes with prize fish and details on how to claim prizes is available at the derby website.

Even if anglers don’t land a prize, plenty of trout are available to harvest. WDFW has been stocking in the region for months. A complete trout-planting schedule for eastern Washington lakes and ponds is available on the region’s catchable trout plants page.

Salmon: The Icicle River in Chelan County was scheduled to open to spring chinook salmon fishing May 15–July 31, but because the estimated return is barely enough to meet broodstock needs at the Leavenworth Fish Hatchery, the fishery was closed by rule change.

Matt Featherly bagged a wild turkey in the Okanogan during a past spring season.
Matt Featherly bagged a wild turkey
in the Okanogan during a past spring season.

Spring wild turkey hunting: The general spring wild turkey season runs April 15 through May 31 around the state, with a youth-only hunt set for April 7-8.

In Okanogan County, WDFW District Wildlife Biologist Scott Fitkin says turkey hunters, particularly the youth hunters in the early two-day season, may find access difficult due to lingering snowpack with extended cold temperatures. "Otherwise I would expect prospects to be maybe a little better than the last couple of years," he said, "because we're now at least two-and-a-half years out since the last large wildfire in this area and turkey numbers have rebounded somewhat."

Spring turkey hunters who plan to also hunt this fall should wait to file their required hunting report until after the fall season. For more information, see the Wild Turkey Spring Season pamphlet.

Invitation to the Leavenworth Spring Bird Fest.
The Leavenworth Spring Bird Fest is May 17-20.

Birds: Bird watching is picking up throughout the region as migrants move into and through northcentral Washington.

A mecca for birdwatchers now, Grant and Adams counties in the Columbia Basin are teeming with waterfowl of all kinds including Canada geese, tundra swans, sandhill cranes, and a myriad of duck and shorebird species. Cranes and most other birds can be observed reliably around Frenchmen Reserve, Potholes Reservoir, the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge, and many units of WDFW's Columbia Basin Wildlife Area.

WDFW Okanogan District Wildlife Biologist Scott Fitkin of Winthrop says although spring is late this year, migratory waterfowl viewing is good at the mouth of the Okanogan River. More waterways and lakes throughout the Okanogan watershed will provide good birdwatching, too, when the ice finally comes off, he said.

The Sinlahekin Valley, and specifically WDFW's Sinlahekin Wildlife Area, are particularly good in early spring, usually affording views of both trumpeter and tundra swans, plus goldeneye, bufflehead, ring-neck ducks, hooded mergansers, and more.

Other wildlife: Fitkin says large groups of mule deer are visible on greened-up, south-facing slopes at the lowest elevations in the Okanogan district.

Fitkin also notes amphibians are beginning to get active in the lowest elevation wetlands. Pacific tree frogs and spadefoot toads are beginning to actively call, and later in the month egg masses and tadpoles will be evident.

Coyote families have been heard and seen throughout the region, with new pups trying out their voices. Outdoor recreationists are advised to keep dog companions leashed when moving through coyote country to avoid conflicts with protective parent coyotes. Learn more about Living with Coyotes on WDFW's website.

Black bears are coming out of winter hibernation dens, some with new cubs in tow and looking for easy meals. WDFW biologists remind homeowners in bear country to keep garbage secured and pet food indoors, and to remove bird feeders. Learn more about Living with Black Bears on the WDFW website.

Raccoons, skunks, and marmots are looking for nesting spots, like crawl spaces under porches, sheds or garages. Seal up those spaces to avoid problems. If these species are rearing families nearby, keep children and pet dogs and cats away from them. Learn more about Living with Wildlife on WDFW's website.

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