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  More to do Outside!
 
 

November 2018
Region 2: Northcentral Washington
(Adams, Chelan, Douglas, Grant and Okanogan counties)
Fisherman holding the trout he caught.
Photo by Casie Lawson

Trout: Fall fishing opportunities for trout are available throughout the region in year-round-open waters and at lakes that close at the end of November. 

In the Columbia Basin, the Seep Lakes outside of the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge, including Canal, Heart and Windmill, are open year-round and have decent rainbow trout fishing in early November.    

Homestead Lake, north of Moses Lake, is open year-round and has 20-inch-plus brown trout along with smaller rainbows. It’s under selective gear rules and a catch limit of one trout per day. Also open year-round is the Desert Lake Chain within WDFW's Columbia Basin Wildlife Area, including Harris, Sedge, Tern, and Dune lakes, all under selective gear rules. 

Open through Nov. 30 in the Columbia Basin are Dusty, Dry Falls, Lenice, Merry, and Nunnally lakes, all under selective gear rules and one-fish catch limits, and all excellent for trout this month. Lake Lenore, just north of the town of Soap Lake, is best in the fall for its Lahontan cutthroat trout that often run up to or more than 30 inches; it’s also under selective gear rules, a one-fish catch limit, and closes Nov. 30.

Roses Lake in Chelan County is open year-round and will be planted with about 18,000 catchable rainbow trout sometime in November, so keep an eye on the WDFW website for this stocking event.
 
Also in Chelan County, Upper Antilon and Lower Antilon lakes should continue providing fair fishing for brown trout until freeze up. Once enough snow is on the ground, the gate on Grade Creek Road will be closed to provide snowmobilers and skiers groomed trails for the winter. The lakes -- just a short distance from the gate -- are still accessible by snowmobile or on foot.

In Okanogan County, Bonaparte Lake is open year-round and should have fair fishing this month for brook, tiger, and rainbow trout, plus kokanee. This year, three lakes in Okanogan County -- Upper or Big Green, Lower or Little Green, and Rat lakes -- became year-round fisheries with a maximum harvest of 2 trout over 14 inches.

Prescribed burns: WDFW crews expect to continue prescribed burns in the Sinlahekin and Methow wildlife areas in Okanogan County this month to reduce the risk of wildfires and enhance wildlife habitat. Although crews make every effort to be considerate of outdoor recreationists with a minimum of smoke and road congestion on weekends, weather determines when they can take advantage of times for optimal burning conditions. 

Youth hunter with her two turkeys.
Youth hunter with her two turkeys. Photo by Clint Duncan

Elk: Modern firearm elk hunting opened Oct. 27 in several Game Management Units (GMUs) in the region. The season runs through Nov. 4 in GMU 204 for any bull, GMU 249 for spike bull, and GMU 251 for true spike bull. The season runs through Nov. 15 in GMUs 203, 209-248, 250, 254-272, 278, 284 and 290 for any elk.  

The northcentral region overall is not home to large elk herds. Most elk harvest is in Chelan County, which includes part of the Colockum herd, especially in GMU 251 (Mission). Eastern Okanogan County (GMU 204) and some parts of Douglas County also provide fair elk hunting.

Late archery elk hunting season for any elk also got underway Oct. 27 and runs through Nov. 15 in select units (203, 209-248, 250, 254-272, 278, 284, and 290) where archery hunters must wear hunter orange because of the overlap with modern firearm season. An even later archery elk season runs Nov. 25-Dec. 8 in GMU 204 for any bull.

Deer: Late archery deer hunting runs Nov. 21-30 for three-point-minimum mule deer bucks in GMUs 209, 215, 233, 243, and 250. GMUs 272 and 278 are open Nov. 20 through Dec. 8 for three-point-minimum or antlerless mule or white-tailed deer. Archers can also hunt any white-tailed deer Nov. 21 through Dec. 15 in GMUs 204, 209, 215, 233, and 243.

Some of the best archery deer hunting in the region is in Okanogan County – mostly for mule deer, although white-tailed deer are also abundant, particularly in GMUs 204 and 215. Harvest success rates are anticipated to be near the 2017 numbers.

Chelan County traditionally has good mule deer hunting on public lands, although an exceptional 2015 harvest and high overwinter mortality rate in 2016-2017 means hunters should consider the Chelan population to be in a rebuilding phase for the next few years.  

Waterfowl: Duck and goose hunting continues throughout the region, with some of the best still ahead when northern migrants drop in to boost locally-produced duck and goose numbers. This month’s migration sees large numbers of mallards, wigeon, gadwalls, teal, scaup, redheads, and canvasbacks arriving in the Columbia Basin from northern breeding grounds.

November is when goose hunting usually improves in the Basin, with early season migrant Canada geese (lesser and Taverner’s) beginning to scatter from their staging area at Stratford Lake to alfalfa or grain fields within feeding distance of Moses Lake and the Columbia River, though assistant area Wildlife Biologist Ella Rowan said that as of Oct. 30, few lesser Canada geese had been spotted locally.

One of the more popular waterfowl hunting areas in the Columbia Basin district is Potholes Reservoir, where an increasing number of snow geese can be seen as the season advances. Hunters pursuing those birds should focus efforts on the surrounding grain fields south of Interstate 90.

As of late October, toxic algae blooms were present in both Moses Lake and Potholes Reservoir. The algae produces potentially lethal toxins, and dogs should not be allowed in the water while the blooms are ongoing. For up-to-date toxin information, visit the Washington State Toxic Algae website.

Hunters can take advantage of extra goose hunting days this month in management area 4, which includes all of the northcentral region. Normally goose hunting is only allowed on Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays, but Monday, Nov. 12 (Veterans Day) and the Thursday and Friday of the Thanksgiving holiday (Nov. 22 and 23) are also open.

Other hunt areas on private land with access limited by on-site registration are detailed on the WDFW Waterfowl Quality Hunt Program and Columbia Basin Corn Stubble Hunting Access webpages.

Upland game birds: Hunting for pheasant, quail, partridge and forest grouse continues throughout the region in November. Information about private “Feel Free to Hunt,” “Register to Hunt,” and other access programs is available on the WDFW Private Lands Hunting Access webpage.

Farm-raised rooster pheasants will be released a couple more times this month at several release sites throughout the region (site details available at the Eastern Washington Pheasant Enhancement Program webpage.) Forest grouse season closes Dec. 31. Pheasant, quail and partridge seasons continue through Jan. 21.

Wild turkey: Special permit-only wild turkey hunting runs Nov. 15 through Dec. 15 in Okanogan County’s GMUs 218-231 and 242.

More detail on hunting prospects by WDFW district wildlife biologists is available in the 2018 Hunting Prospects. More detail on hunting access on private lands is available at Private Lands Hunting Access. More detail on hunting rules is available in the Hunting Seasons and Regulations pamphlets.

Prescribed burns: WDFW crews expect to continue prescribed burns in the Sinlahekin and Methow wildlife areas in Okanogan County this month to reduce the risk of wildfires and enhance wildlife habitat. Although crews make every effort to be considerate of outdoor recreationists with a minimum of smoke and road congestion on weekends, weather determines when they can take advantage of times for optimal burning conditions. 

Two male bighorns
Two male bighorns. Photo by David Woodall

Bighorn sheep: The end of bighorn sheep mating season is approaching, which means early November is a great time to see rams clash in their famous head-butting duels. If you’re interested in catching the action, look for sheep in and around the Swakane unit between Wenatchee and Entiat, and on the Chelan Butte unit.

Birds: November is a great time for a road trip through the Columbia Basin with binoculars and spotting scopes to watch incoming and outgoing migratory ducks and geese. Diving ducks – canvasbacks, redheads and scaup – are scattered along the Columbia River, particularly at Wells Pool, Wanapum Pool, and Priest Rapids Pool.

Salmon: November is the month to watch coho salmon returning to Beebe Creek near Chelan to spawn. WDFW Chelan Wildlife Area manager Ron Fox says that coho and their redds are visible from the bridges spanning Beebe Creek and from two viewpoints that provide close access to the creek. Returning Coho numbers usually peak in mid-November.

Deer: With the peak of both white-tailed and mule deer breeding season or rut in mid-November, this is the time to view antlered bucks vying for dominance over other bucks or seeking does. Buck deer can be less wary at this time, so viewing may be as easy as watching them from a roadside, but motorists need to be extremely cautious. Motor vehicle collisions with deer increase at this time, not just because the deer are less wary but because shortened daylight hours put more motorists on the roads in the dark.

Prescribed burns: WDFW crews expect to continue prescribed burns in the Sinlahekin and Methow wildlife areas in Okanogan County this month to reduce the risk of wildfires and enhance wildlife habitat. Although crews make every effort to be considerate of outdoor recreationists with a minimum of smoke and road congestion on weekends, weather determines when they can take advantage of times for optimal burning conditions. 

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