Washington likes to keep anglers on their toes. Fishing seasons open throughout the year, including major waters that open on March 1, April 1 and, of course, the popular lowland trout season that opens the last Saturday in April.
Forget the catch-and-release ethic when it comes to smallmouth bass. The non-native fish are sporty on rod and reel, and fisheries managers in North Idaho and Washington encourage anglers to put some in their coolers.
Tiger muskies are a big reason to fish a few select lakes in Washington and the Panhandle. A sterile, hybrid cross between muskellunge and northern pike, tiger muskies have been stocked in seven Washington lakes to provide trophy fishing and help control non-sport fisheries, such as suckers, tench, northern pikeminnows, carp and sunfish.
Fishing the Spokane River requires careful attention to details, not only to catch the finicky trout, but also to keep track of the regulations that vary in different stretches of the river. A struggling population of native redband trout is found in the river, and brown trout have been stocked from Monroe Street downstream to Nine Mile Dam.
When the wind is on good behavior, an angler would be hard-pressed to waste precious fishing time by cruising on I-90 past the Sprague exit. Rehabilitated in the fall of 2007 to restart a fishery that was terribly out of balance with carp, stunted panfish and uncooperative walleyes, Sprague Lake is blooming into a heart-stopping fishery.
Kokanee are king to many anglers, and the Inland Northwest still has a few hot spots to catch them. Lake Coeur d’Alene should provide good fishing this year coming off an emergency early closure last fall to protect a weak year-class of spawners.
Being anchored over a school of bluegills, crappie or perch is about as close to heaven as some anglers want to go. The Inland Northwest has an assortment of holy waters for panfish anglers. Here’s a mere sampling:
The Spokane area’s annual CAST for Kids event will be May 2 at Clear Lake. For a $5 fee, youths 5-14 will take home a rod and reel, a Fishing Kids T-shirt, and have the opportunity to catch planted rainbow trout under supervision of local volunteers.
Last year’s long-lasting ice cap on high mountain lakes apparently caused winter kill in fisheries dear to the hearts and sore feet of hikers. “We had reports of poor fishing in lakes like Pyramid in the Selkirks and in Five Lakes Butte area in the Bitterroots,” said Jim Fredericks, Idaho Fish and Game Department regional fisheries manager. Shallow lakes were hardest hit.
North Idaho’s crown jewel cutthroat trout streams – including the Coeur d’Alene, St. Joe and St. Maries – are in their first full year of expanded catch-and-release regulations befitting their popularity. “It’s too early to peg significant results,” said Jim Fredericks, Idaho Fish and Game Department regional fisheries manager. “But in 2000, when we expanded the catch-and-release section on the St. Joe from Prospector Creek down to Avery, we soon saw an increase in larger cutthroat. So the regulation does work.