Salmon and steelhead
The chinook season will open on April 28 below Ice Harbor Dam with fishing allowed on Fridays and Saturdays only. Below Little Goose Dam and near Clarkston, the season will open on April 30 with fishing allowed Sundays and Mondays each week.
Trout and kokanee
WDFW fish hatchery crews have been stocking more than 16 million trout and kokanee in lakes statewide in preparation for Saturday’s opener. Fish stocking details, by county and lake, are available in the annual stocking plan on WDFW’s website at wdfw.wa.gov/ fishing/plants/statewide/.
WDFW district biologist Randy Osborne says he expects Williams and Badger lakes to be among the best on opening day. Cutthroat in both are over 10 inches and rainbows are a bit larger. In addition, there will be broodstock rainbow, and Williams will have some tiger trout and roughly 600 4-pound triploids. To be on the safe side, include rubber boots if you plan on launching a boat. Williams, particularly, will be tricky.
West Medical Lake will probably not be as good as in years past because of an infestation of goldfish, but the usual catchables and some 500 big triploids should keep anglers smiling, at least early in the season.
Fishing at Clear Lake probably won’t provide the numbers of rainbow, but Clear has some browns over 20 inches. Fish Lake has brookies and rainbow. Fishtrap will be fair to good and the 1,500 steelhead planted last fall are now around 11 inches. The lake was also planted with 400 3-pound triploids.
Lake Spokane is open year-round and has been stocked with trout the last couple of years by Avista. Some of the earlier plants are now close to 20 inches and another plant of catchables will be made in May or June, depending on water condition.
The Washington opener also marks the start of the WDFW’s annual lowland lake fishing derby, which runs through Oct. 31. Anglers who catch one of 1,000 tagged fish can claim prizes provided by license dealers and other sponsors located across the state. The total value of prizes is more than $25,000.
Lakes with tagged fish in Spokane County include Badger, Bear, Liberty, West Medical and Williams. Other area lakes include Cedar, Loon, Starvation and Waitts in Stevens County; Fishtrap in Lincoln County; Curlew in Ferry County; Diamond in Pend Oreille County, and Garfield Pond in Whitman county For details on how to claim prizes, visit wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/derby.
Quincy and Burke lakes to the south have been open for almost a month. Fishing for rainbow is still fair to good, with the fish in Burke running 11-12 inches, and those in Quincy going 8-10 inches.
Anglers who get on the water early are catching limits of kokanee from Lake Chelan. If you arrive at 9:00 a.m., you’re too late.
Rufus Woods has a limit of only two trout, but some of these are up to 10 pounds. Fishing has been excellent, and you can prolong your angling experience by throwing unscented artificials for catch-and-release fishing. The most reports come from the stretch between Elmer City and the first net pens. Jigged grubs have been effective, with or without a piece of nightcrawler.
Hayden Lake has been excellent for kokanee anglers. Most of the fish have been around 11 inches, but occasionally, one of the big ones is caught.
Walleye fishing at Banks Lake should be excellent this year with lots of fish in the 16- to 20-inch class, and anglers already making some nice catches. Moses Lake, too, could be outstanding, but right now, walleye anglers are frustrated by the lack of action. They say they are marking a lot of fish but not finding many biters.
Slow Death hooks and nightcrawlers on bottom walkers have accounted for a lot of walleye in 35 feet of water close to Seven Bays on Lake Roosevelt. Elsewhere on the reservoir, nice catches are also reported by anglers jigging at this depth.
Eloika Lake bass, perch, keeper crappie fishing is getting better every day. Reports of some legal (9-inch or better) crappie have come in.
A friend reports catching some 10-inch crappie at Fernan last weekend and said it appeared shore anglers were doing well too. Pike fishing is picking up in the Chain Lakes, he said, but so far the fish have been small.
Anglers fishing for halibut will notice a change this year. The scheduled halibut season dates are May 4, 6, 11, 21 and 25; and June 1 and 4 in Puget Sound and marine areas 5-10 and in ocean marine areas 2-4. Halibut fishing in Marine Area 1 also gets under way on May 4, but will be open Thursday through Sunday until the quota has been met.
Washington turkey hunters found lots of gobbling birds on last Saturday’s opener, but few responded to the call once they were off the roost. As the week progressed, however, the birds became more cooperative and many tags were filled.
Contact Alan Liere at spokesmanliere @ yahoo.com