Bob Jateff, WDFW district fish biologist from Omak, notes a few Okanogan County lakes open for catch-and-keep rainbow trout fishing on Tuesday. Rat Lake near Brewster, and Big and Little Green lakes near Omak are on a catch-and-release season through Monday, but change to catch-and-keep Tuesday with a daily limit of five trout.
Also opening Tuesday is the winter whitefish season on portions of the Chewuch, Entiat, Methow, Similkameen, and Sinlahekin rivers. Anglers need to be aware that in areas where there are ongoing but unlisted special steelhead fisheries, whitefish anglers must use single barbless hooks and no bait.
Salmon and steelhead
WDFW central district fish biologist Chris Donley says this is his favorite time to fish for steelhead in the south end of the Snake River system. “A lot of people have given up on them because the initial surge of returning fish is over and we haven’t had any rain to provide a pulse of water to move fish up the tributaries,” Donley said. “So they’re all hanging out in deep holes in the mainstem river. When you find them in those holes, the fishing is really good. A lot of steelhead are shuffling around now from one deep hole to another in the reservoir above Lower Granite Dam.”
Donley also said steelheading on the Snake’s tributaries, like the Grande Ronde, can still be productive if anglers change their tactics to fish low, clear water. “You’ve got to downsize your gear and weights and be very quiet,” he explained. “There are some steelhead in those tributaries, but if we get a warming trend with rain, instead of snow holding in the mountains, that flush of water will bring even more of them into those smaller waterways.”
Art Viola, WDFW district fish biologist, of Wenatchee reports steelhead fishing on the Wenatchee River is slowing down. Both effort and catch rates seem to be holding steady on the mainstem Columbia River, from Rock Island Dam to Wells Dam.
Trout and kokanee
Lake Roosevelt is still providing excellent rainbow trout fishing, and a few kokanee are also being taken. Anglers fishing from shore at Hawk Creek reported good fishing for trout running 13-14 inches.
Big rainbows continue to come out of Sprague Lake. The bite is not as consistent as at Roosevelt, but both shore fishermen and those trolling from boats are catching trout as large as eight pounds.
Rainbow trout fishing is good at Z-Lake on WDFW’s Swanson Lakes Wildlife Area in central Lincoln County. Juli Anderson, area manager, says the lake, which is a walk-in only site off Telford Road, has lots of planted rainbows. “The largest reported hooked this year was 15 inches,” she said. “With dry ground right now, it’s fairly easy to access from either the north or south end.”
Don’t forget that Fourth of July and Hog Canyon, two of the region’s four winter-only trout lakes that normally open Dec. 1 will not open this year because they don’t have any fish after fall rehabilitation treatments. They will be re-stocked with rainbow trout next spring and will re-open for fishing in December 2010. Hatch and Williams lakes in Stevens County are well- stocked and will open Tuesday.
Rufus Woods anglers say the trout are full of snails. Some hogs are coming in, and overall, fishing has picked up. Small black marabou jigs are working well.
Sherman Creek in Ferry County opens to all game fish Tuesday and will mostly produce catches of rainbow trout, with some mountain whitefish in the upper reaches.
Whitefish season opens Tuesday on the middle section of the Little Spokane River, from Hwy 291 Bridge to the West Branch of the river. Whitefish gear is restricted to one single-point hook with a maximum size 14 hook.
Four evening razor clam digs are scheduled Tuesday-Dec. 5 at Twin Harbors. Copalis and Mocrocks will be open Wednesday-Dec. 5, Long Beach will be open Wednesday, Thursday and Dec. 5, and Kalaloch Beach will be open for digging Dec. 4 and 5 only. No digging will be allowed at any beach before noon. More digs are tentatively scheduled Dec. 31 - Jan. 3, subject to the results of marine toxin tests.
Late archery hunts for deer and elk as well as muzzleloader hunts for elk opened Wednesday in select game management units in the region. The late muzzleloader season for deer started Thursday.
Late season turkey hunting continues through Dec. 15 in the northeast game management units 104 - 124 where populations of the big birds are abundant.
No one has much good to say about the upland bird hunting in eastern Washington. Even hen pheasant numbers are reported to be low.
Waterfowl hunting opportunity, as usual, varies greatly across the region but the consensus is few northern birds have arrived. At Swanson Lakes Wildlife Area, Anderson reports the only good amounts of water are in the Lake Creek drainage. “My recommendation to waterfowl hunters is to start at Telford Road off Highway 2, and work down from there, checking the major lakes in the chain that are on public lands, including Bureau of Land Management, and Whittaker Lake just east of Telford on Whittaker Lake Road,” Anderson said.
Columbia Basin Canada goose numbers are steady with the small Canada geese moving from the Stratford area to Moses Lake, but lots of honkers are still to come. Though warm, dry weather is not speeding the waterfowl migration along, there is still a lot of open water for them if they ever get here. Hunting conditions on the Winchester Regulated Access Area are tough this year because beaver activity has impaired the ability to flood the impoundments.
The Frenchmen Regulated Access Area is full of water and roughly 700 acres have been enrolled in the corn stubble retention program. Waterfowl hunters should call the WDFW North central Regional Office in Ephrata at 509-754-4624 for locations and details.
Goose hunters in Lincoln, Spokane and Walla Walla counties - where goose hunting is available only on Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays - got two extra days this week with shooting allowed Thanksgiving Day and today.