For the first time in three years, ice was NOT clogging most of the trout fishing lakes in Stevens, Ferry and Pend Oreille counties in early April. Water temperatures are still chilly, but hatchery trucks appear to be on schedule for trout deliveries this month. Starvation Lake southeast of Colville usually ranks among the highest in the state for catch rates on the last Saturday in April general season opener.
Many families have made traditions of venturing to Spokane region lakes that open to fishing on the last Saturday of April. About 20 lakes in Spokane County are stocked with trout, plus about 65 in Stevens and Pend Oreille counties.
Anglers will have new rules to observe after May 1 as they pursue the still-developing fishery at Sprague Lake. Surviving rainbow trout stocked after the 2007 lake rehabilitation have grown and weigh around 6 pounds.
Panfish are a prize even though they might not match bass and pike for size. Perch, crappie and bluegills are fun for kids to catch, adults too, and delicious on the table.
Eastern Washington has numerous stream-fishing experiences to try. Among them: The Spokane River has a good rainbow trout fishery in certain stretches. Some of the best trout fishing is in the catch-and-release section upstream from Upriver Dam to the Idaho stateline. Check rules carefully.
Although there’s a threat of low summer flows and fish stress owing to a dismal snowpack, the cutthroat fisheries in the Coeur d’Alene and St. Joe rivers are going into the season in prime condition. “We’re finally at a comparable level to where we were before the floods of 1996 and 97,” said Jim Fredericks, Idaho Fish and Game Department regional fisheries manger.