Posts tagged: Steamboat Rock
HIKING — A Spokane couple returning from a camping-hiking trip to Steamboat Rock State Park this weekend have several recommendations for folks who want to follow their footsteps:
1. Go now. The wildflowers are beautiful, with the balsamroot on the downward swing but bitterroots are just ready to bloom.
2. Keep the tent screen zipped closed. They found two rattlesnakes in camp, one huddled against their tent and one under their cooler.
3. Use hiking poles and if you hike with a dog, keep it on leash. They encountered two more rattlers on the trail while hiking to nearby Northrup Canyon. One was on the aggressive side, which is rare. But they felt more comfortable after they gathered up hiking sticks to thwart any advances. With their dog on leash, they had no problem.
FISHING — The jury's still out on how much the lowest maintenance drawdown in Banks Lake's history will impact the reservoir's popular sport fisheries.
But opportunistic bass, walleye, whitefish and panfish anglers are making photos and detailed notes of exposed structure they'll want to explore with hook and line when the water levels begin returning to normal levels this winter.
And agencies are taking advantage of the drawdown to make some recreational improvements to boat launches, docks and other facilities, including Coulee City Marina.
The Bureau of Reclamation is giving anglers a boost by releasing a series of aerial photos taken on Nov. 15 with the 27-mile long lake's level down 31 feet from full pool.
The aerial photos, plus others snapped from the ground to show boat launching improvements, were snagged and posted along with updates by Andy Walgamott on his Northwest Sportsman magazine website.
The Banks Lake level was 1,538 feet last week, covering only 19,600 surface acres — about a third less than at the 27,694 acres it covers at full pool with the level 31 feet higher.
WILDLIFE WATCHING — The drawdown of Banks Lake for spillway construction that will last into next year is a pain for boaters (see post below), but it's considered an opportunity for birdwatchers.
The drawdown is exposing muddy banks that are attracting shorebirds.
Although better viewing is expected as the heatwave deteriorates, here's a Banks Lake birding report from a recent outing by Doug Schonewald of Moses Lake:
There were a plethora of shorebirds at the marina at Coulee City, mostly Westerns, Least, and a few Bairds. There is so much lakeshore exposed that it is hard to decide where to look for shorebirds, especially since the water has not been drawn down to this level in nearly 20-years. It should only get better in the next few weeks.
Steamboat Rock had a few migrants. MacGillivrays, Wilson, Chipping Sparrows, the like. Nothing rare, but enough to keep up interest.
BOATING — Coulee Playland Resort still offers boat access to Banks Lake, but travelers planning to spend Labor Day weekend at Steamboat Rock State Park may not be able to launch their boat as water levels have dropped too low.
HIKING — While wildflowers are just getting brave enough to emerge, the Columbia Basin, as usual has a jump on the much of the region.
Here's a report from John Echelbarger, who hiked Sunday at Steamboat Rock State Park on Banks Lake.
“There was a nice variety of wildflowers and some that have not bloomed here yet.
“Buttercups, Grass Widows, Yellow Bells I have seen around spokane.
“Shooting Stars, Violets, and Blue Bells I saw for the first time this year. More sun over there. Perfect weather and quite a beautiful hike.”