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BLM to fight fire with fire at Fishtrap Lake

PUBLIC LANDS —  Slow-moving fires are planned for about 1,150 acres of U.S. Bureau of Land Management scablands southwest of Spokane near Fishtrap Lake starting this week to boost wildlife habitat and reduce the chance of intense wild fires during summer and fall.

The Spokane District will be conducting prescribed fires in the Fishtrap area of Spokane and Lincoln Counties, approximately 8.5 miles northeast of Sprague during the period from Wednesday, Jan. 15, through Feb. 28, depending on weather.

Smoke may be visible on active ignition days and for several days following, officials said, noting these burns are part of BLM's region-wide fire control program. A program of prescribed burns can help reduce the intensity and damage cause by natural fires, such as those that have burned in Lincoln County in recent years (photo above).

Says BLM:

Prescribed fire is used to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires, and increase public and firefighter safety. It also helps meet a variety of resource management objectives: reducing hazardous fuels (surface or ladder fuels), and restoring habitats and ecosystems. To restore fire to its natural role in forests and rangelands, trained experts employ low intensity prescribed fire in the spring and fall, when weather conditions minimize escape and allow for controlled burning.

Father, son, yellow Lab score pheasants at Fishtrap

HUNTING — Robert Estuar and his 11 year-old son, Tomas, took a gamble on whether roosters would be stocked at the Fishtrap release site for Saturday's opening of the Eastern Washington pheasant season.

But they found birds and made the best of the day with their yellow Lab, Bella.

  • The state wasn't telling which sites would be stocked for the opener. Continue reading for details about the release program at 23 sites in Eastern Washington

First fish caught at 12:02 a.m. at Fishtrap

FISHING — Eleven-year-old Cameron Earnshaw of Kennewick caught the first fish of the season off the docks at Fishtrap Lake Resort on Saturday — two minutes after the season opened at midnight.

Much more fun followed for the large family groups gathered for the annual tradition of fishing on opening day of Washington's lowland lake trout season. 

Hog Canyon waterfall beckons early season hikers

HIKING — Fishing success is tapering off at Hog Canyon Lake west of Spokane near Fishtrap Lake, but the hiking season is underway.

The waterfall that flows into the lake's upper end was flowing nicely on Saturday. A dozen or so anglers were trying to catch rainbow trout in the winter fishing lake that closes for the season at the end of March while several groups of hikers were walking — and backpack camping — along the shoreline on land managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

  • See a post from a previous year.

Fishing at Fishtrap Lake, which should be excellent this year, opens the fourth Saturday in April.

Water temps almost cool enough for good fall trout fishing

FISHING — Time is running out  for anglers at many of the Spokane-area trout lakes, some of which close for the season on Sunday .

The rainless heat wave of August-September is keeping water temperatures unusually high, and the fish haven't picked up their fall feeding activity.  

I talked to a group of locals having coffee this morning at Fishtrap Lake Resort. They'd put in some long hours for just a few fish.   But the ones they caught were beautiful, big-shouldered carryovers with  delicious red meat.

"It's just a matter of how much time you want to put in to get them," one angler said.

Water temps have cooled to 60 degrees in the morning and range to 65 or more in the afternoon, they said.

"But that's a lot better than earlier in the week when they were up to 72 in the afternoon, " one man said. "That's just too warm for the trout."

The general consensus from the group was that the water temperatures would drop and the fish would go on the bite within a few days after the Fishtrap fishing  season closes.

BLM’s Fishtrap Lake trails mostly untouched by fire

PUBLIC LANDS — The 350-acre fire on BLM land that prompted a temporary evacuation of Fishtrap Lake Resort recently was fairly well contained with minimal damange, officials say.

The photo above shows the edges of the fire burning up to the Farmer Landing trailhead west of Fishtrap Lake.

"Horseback riding and hiking along the trail from that trailhead should still be through unburned landscape,” said Steven Smith, BLM recreation manager in Spokane.

“So far, about 54 different fires in Eastern Washington have affected BLM lands,” said Scott Pavey, Spokane District spokesman, noting that some fires farther west are still burning. “A rough total of about 42,500 BLM acres have burned.”

Hikers find spring waterfalls blooming

DAY HIKING — Wet spring weather is giving dayhikers extra incentive to hit the trail. 

Palouse Falls near Washtucna is roaring this week, and nifty trails offer numerous points of view.

One not to miss in its brief spring rise to fame is Hog Lake falls, 30 miles west of Spokane.

The scablands are saturated and feeding the lake’s waterfalls, which generally flow only in late-winter and spring. The lake, a popular winter trout fishery that closes Thursday, is on the Bureau of Land Management’s Fishtrap Lake recreation area south of Interstate 90 near the Spokane-Lincoln county line.

From Exit 254, drive south and turn left at the first public road. Cross the railroad tracks and continue on the gravel road to the boat launch. Hike the west shoreline a few hundred yards, scramble up to the rim and follow it up the lake, past all the blooming buttercups, to the overlook of the falls.