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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.

Hog Canyon, 4th of July Lakes heavy with fish

WINTER FISHING — Hog Canyon had an average turnout, but the pressure was down somewhat at Fourth of July lake when the fisheries opened for their winter trout season on Saturday.

Fishing was good, but anglers had trouble getting their limits after catching two fast fish over 14 inches.

Problem:  Most of the fish are large and you can keep only two fish longer than 14.

Click here for the opening weekend report from Hatch and Williams lakes near Colville.

Following is the Hog Canyon/Fourth of July lakes report from Randall Osborne, Washington Department of Fish Wildlife area fisheries biologist:

Both lakes were ice free for the opener and with the forcast, should stay that way for a while anyway. Both lakes fished relatively well and should be good for quite a while through the season.

Hog Canyon Lake - this lake had a pretty good turnout for the opener. Rainbows averaged 16 inches and ranged from 9 to 20 inches. Average number of fish harvested by anglers that were creeled was 1.9 fish/angler.

Fourth of July Lake - Not the most people I have seen here in past openers, but still a pretty good turnout. Rainbows averaged 17.5 inches and ranged from 15.5 to 21.5 inches. Average number of fish harvested by anglers that were creeled was also 1.9 fish/angler.

When these two lakes are in form, like they are now, they tend to grow trout really, really well. This is the reason for the relatively low harvest rates. Most people harvested their two fish over 14 inches pretty quickly, but struggled a bit finding fish under 14 inches to fill in their limits.

  

Anglers have plenty of elbow room at Hog Canyon

FISHING — As I was hiking the rim above Hog Canyon Lake on Sunday, I looked down on the water to see two fishermen looking very small as they trolled their lures in the chop. 

A few anglers were fishing with little success from shore at both ends of the lake, but these two men were in the only boat on the 53-acre lake.

Minutes later I saw them hook and land a trout that played hard and looked big in the net even from my distant vantage.

The winter-season lake closes to fishing at the end of the month.

Dayhike destination: Waterfall ripping at Hog Canyon Lake

HIKING — Looking for a good early-spring dayhike?  Check out this spot i visited with my daughter this weekend.

Runoff period is a good time to visit the BLM land around Fishtrap Lake for a hike into Hog Canyon Lake.  .

Hog Canyon is a popular winter fishing lake off I-90 from the Fishtrap exit. There are several ways to reach it, including a longer walk from the main trailhead parking area on Fishtrap Road between the Sprague Highway and Fishtrap Resort.

First timers might want to use the BLM Fishtrap map to find your way to the Hog Canyon boat launch. Hike the west shoreline, scramble up to the rim and follow the rim up lake to the falls, with the lake below you to the right. Beautiful.

Butter cups blooming. Grass widows and balsamroot soon to follow.

Winter fishing opens with a whimper

FISHING — The Spokane area’s two winter fishing trout lakes open on Wednesday. The fish are there, but the conditions are iffy.

The waters are Fourth of July Lake just south of Sprague and Hog Canyon Lake off I-90’s Fishtrap exit.

Fourth of July’s east end has about two iches of ice with a lot of snowy insulation coming down on top of it today. The west end of the lake still had open water as of Monday.

Chris Donley, Washington Fish and Wildlife Department fisheries biologist said some anglers will probably try out the ice, but he wouldn’t.

I have no firm report on Hog Canyon, but it will take a few heroes in chained up four-wheel drives to break trail in to find out.

Lake Roosevelt, a year-round fishery that’s particularly hot for large trout in November and December, is the clear favorite for catching fish, but beware that the boat ramps have been very icy from the dripping of boats coming out of the water. Boaters who pull the bilge plugs and let their boats drain as the pull up the ramp contribute to the icing.

But shore fishing at Roosevelt areas such as Seven Bays is a great option.