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Chopaka headliner among selective trout fisheries

Chopaka is back, and we’re not talking about a character in Star Wars.

Okanogan County’s darling for Washington fly fishers was treated with rotenone in 2007 and should be getting back to its old ways of producing thick rainbows this year, barring any winter-kill problems, biologists say.

Chopaka is among dozens of lakes Washington manages as selective fisheries, which lure anglers who want to catch and release large trout rather than take home a cooler full of smaller fish.

Amber Lake south of Cheney is a premium selective fishery in this region for cutthroats and rainbows.

Medical Lake may be a little tougher to fish, but the rewards can be huge rainbows – to 23 inches, according to Fish and Wildlife Department surveys – as well as big browns and tiger trout.

Medical Lake fly fishers often use Woolly Buggers on sinking lines or they fish chironomid patterns at whatever depth the fish are holding.

Bait is prohibited in selective fisheries. Anglers must use artificial flies or lures.

Because the daily limits are restrictive, these lakes usually have longer seasons. Medical Lake, for example, is open March 1-Oct. 31.

Amber Lake opens the last Saturday in April, but its general season runs through October with a bonus catch-and-release season through November.

Other choice selective fisheries include:

Coffee Pot west of Harrington, with rainbows that are improving in size after the minimum-size limit was increased to 18 inches two years ago.

Lake Lenore and Dry Falls lakes south of Coulee City, both in beautiful basalt cliff settings. Lenore holds Lahontan cutthroat trout that average 2-4 pounds. Yearling rainbows are running 14 inches at Dry Falls this year and carryover fish are 16-20, including browns and tiger trout.

Lenice and Nunnally – walk-in lakes an Grant County – are fishing quite well this year for rainbows in the 20-inch range.

Ell Lake in Okanogan County will not to be up to par again this year because of winter kill, said Bob Jateff, district biologist.