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Sprague Lake public access closing for boat-launch project

FISHING — The public access site on the southwest end of Sprague Lake in Adams County will be closed July 27-Sept. 7 for a construction project to improve boat-launching and parking facilities.

A contractor will be installing a floating dock for loading and unloading boats in the launch area, and making improvements to the parking lot consistent with the Americans with Disabilities Act, said Josh Harmon, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife northcentral region access manager.

The entrance to the access area off Danekas Road will be gated with a sign explaining the six-week closure, Harmon said.

Access to the lake and boat launching will continue to be provided for a small fee at:

  • Sprague Lake Resort on the east end.
  • Four Seasons Campground and Resort on the northwest side.
  • An unimproved, privately owned, pay-to-launch access site off Danekas/Max Harder Road just east of the public access.

The improvements at the WDFW access site are funded through a 2013-15 Washington Recreation and Conservation Office Boating Facilities Program grant.

Lake Quinault reopens for fishing, paddling, recreation

WATERSPORTS — Lake Quinault on Washington's Olympic Peninsula has reopened for summer activities including fishing and boating after a brief hiatus.  

Lake Quinault Lodge, located just steps from the lake and in the heart of a temperate rainforest, will again offer fishing, boat rentals and tours of the lake. Guests can now enjoy the glacier-carved lake via a variety of vessels including canoes, kayaks, row boats or the comfort of a guided boat tour offering visitors a thorough history of the area, views of beautiful waterfalls, record breaking trees and a variety of native wildlife.

Olympic National Park also lists trails and other attractions in the area.

The Lake, located within the boundaries of the Quinault Indian Reservation, was closed in April 2013 due to concern related to water pollution, invasive species, public safety and the need to protect and restore salmon habitat, particularly Blueback salmon.  It reopened, for swimming only, last year but as of April 26, 2014 it has reopened for all summer activities.

Should the state buy fishing access to Chapman Lake?

FISHING — Washington Fish and Wildlife officials are taking public comment on a proposal to buy 80 acres of land to establish a public fishing access at Chapman Lake in Spokane County.

Once a popular fishing destination, the 128-acre lake near Cheney has been inaccessible to the public since 2011, when the private resort that provided access was closed.

The state has helped maintain the kokanee fishery on the prospect that public access could someday be restored, said John Whalen, regional fisheries manager.

The property owner has offered to sell 80 acres for an access, he said.

The property is bordered on three sides by Washington Department of Natural Resources land.

Submit public comments by March 21 by email to  teamspokane@dfw.wa.gov

Stand up paddleboarding program at REI

WATER SPORTS – Get the basics on Stand Up Paddleboarding in a free staff-presented program at REI on Thursday, 7 p.m.

Online map pegs Idaho fishing-boating access sites

BOATING — An updated Idaho Fishing and Boating Access Guide with a list of access sites on lakes and streams is available at state Fish and Game Department offices, including the Panhandle Region headquarters, 2885 W. Kathleen Ave. in Coeur d'Alene.

The guide includes regional maps of fishing and boating access sites.

Access locations managed by Fish and Game also are presented in an alphabetical list that includes available amenities and special access features, such as boat ramps, docks, restrooms, camping and ADA fishing access.

The guide also is available online in Idaho Fish and Game's interactive Fishing Planner.  This includes the added feature of being able to toggle to satellite imagery of the maps. You can zoom in on a  photo of a site and see it in amazing sharpness and detail.

Local lakes and the ho-hum of peace

(The Slice Blog will be back in full swing on Monday. In the meantime, here's something I was thinking about.)

It doesn't happen every time, but often enough.

I'll say something in my column about Inland Northwest lakes and a Crabby Appleton reader will call or write to say that even our area's biggest lakes are nothing size-wise compared to, say, the Great Lakes or some of the big lakes in Canada.

This I already knew.

But square miles aren't everything. I think the reason our lakes don't get respect in certain circles is that they were not a part of any famous battles. At least not any I know about.

After all, the War of 1812 was not partly fought on local bodies of water.

It's worth remembering, though, that there were people here long, long before white settlers. So maybe there were titanic clashes on our lakes that no one today knows anything about.

Or maybe Inland Northwest tribes 500 years ago were wise enough to settle disputes through negotiation.

Clear Lake angler proves whopper trout still lurking

FISHING — This 14.5 rainbow was caught over the holiday weekend off the Sun Cove Resort (509-535-7310) fishing pier at Clear Lake by Mike — he prefers to go only by his first name — one of the regulars who "catch fish like crazy," said resort owner Brent Roundtree.

The fish was 31 inches long, caught on on a plain nightcrawlers, 6 pound mono line with no weights.

"There are 4 friends that come every Sunday and sit on the left side of the dock," Roundtree said. "They catch so many fish that it frustrates, and baffles, everyone else. The fish can be completely turned off for 10 other people on the same dock… and they will get their limit every time. They grew up around here and know how to catch em. Week after week they do this."

Video: Fishing with kids is a hoot!

FISHING — It's no fish story that Spokane angler Tanner Grant, his fishing buddy Branden Carter and their boys had a great time Saturday for the fishing season opener at West Medical Lake.

They have this short broadcast-quality video to prove it.  

Grant shot the footage in and out of the water with his Go-Pro camera and edited the clips to perfection. Add the  perfect song and it's a first-class documentary on why many of us feel sorry for parents who've never taken their kids fishing. 

P.S.  Notice the boys eating in the background as they watch before applying the skills they've learned from observation and a peanut-butter high. A cooler with appropriate food is an essential item for successful kid fishing trips.

Also see:

Eastern Washington's top trout lakes surveyed

Photo essay: Boy's first fish — hooked on the moment

A boy’s first fish: hooked on the moment

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FISHING — I feel sorry for parents who don't take their kids fishing. They don't know what they're missing.

See a few hints about what they're missing in my Sunday story about Saturday's opening day of Washington's lowland trout season

Please enjoy this short photo sequence of Quinn Connacher, 6, of Spokane, as he works at Williams Lake to catch his first fish.

Once the trout was netted, the boy got a huge high five before he pranced and danced in celebration on the Bunker's Resort dock.

To heck with the five-fish limit.  As soon as his stepfather gathered their minimal gear, the boy made a beeline  up to the campground to show off his prize. 

The rainbow may have grown a little larger by the time he finished telling the story.  

Also see:

Eastern Washington's top trout lakes surveyed

Photo essay: Boy's first fish — hooked on the moment

Clean Water Act to be explored Wednesday by Spokane panel

ENVIRONMENT — Local experts will discuss "The Clean Water Act at 40" and its implications to the Spokane River in a public panel discussion Wednesday (Nov. 7), 6 p.m. at The Community Buildling, 35 W. Main St.

"In October of 1972 Congress signed in to law a historic piece of legislation that to this day continues to help clean up and protect the Spokane River," says Spokane RiverKeeper Bart Mihailovich, sponsor of the event. 

The discussion and public Q&A opportunities will be moderated by Rick Eichstaedt, executive director of the Center for Justice and a Clean Water Act expert.

Three panelists from Avista and local and state agencies will discuss a Fishable, Swimmable and Drinkable Spokane River.

Read on for details about the local panelists — and the REFRESHMENTS that will be available.

In Soviet Russia, lake contaminates you

The Berkely Pit in Butte, Montana is almost serene by comparison. From Grist: Welcome to beautiful Lake Karachay, a Russian lake so tainted by nearby nuclear facilities that it’s considered the most polluted place on the planet. In 1990, just standing on the shore for an hour would give you a radiation dose of 600 roentgen, more than enough to kill you. On the plus side, lakefront property is probably really, really cheap.

You can’t really blame Lake Karachay for acting up — it comes from a really rough area. The lake is located within the Mayak Production Association, one of the largest — and leakiest — nuclear facilities in Russia. The Russian government kept Mayak entirely secret until 1990, and it spent that period of invisibility mainly having nuclear meltdowns and dumping waste into the river. By the time Mayak’s existence was officially acknowledged, there had been a 21 percent increase in cancer incidence, a 25 percent increase in birth defects, and a 41 percent increase in leukemia in the surrounding region of Chelyabinsk. The Techa river, which provided water to nearby villages, was so contaminated that up to 65 percent of locals fell ill with radiation sickness — which the doctors termed “special disease,” because as long as the facility was secret, they weren’t allowed to mention radiation in their diagnoses.

Read more at Basement Geographer. 

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.

Lakes that look like they are near here

But aren't.


That's Lake George in New York above, and New Hampshire's Newfound Lake below.


Blackwell Island launch opens May 23 for CdA boaters

BOATING —The Bureau of Land Management’s Blackwell Island boat launch and recreation area will open on May 23 in one of the annual harbingers of th Lake Coeur d’Alene boating season.  

The popular site is just south of Coeur d’Alene along Highway 95.  

Season passes cost $40.  The annual pass covers both Blackwell Island recreation site and Mineral Ridge boat launch.   Daily rates at Blackwell Island are $6 per day.

BLM staff will be on-site during the Memorial Day weekend to sell season passes.  Cash or check is required for on-site purchases; credit card purchases may be made at the BLM’s Coeur d’Alene District office during business hours at 3815 Schreiber Way in Coeur d’Alene. 

Blackwell Island recreation site offers picnic facilities, including a large pavilion that is available on a rental basis; wildlife viewing along the boardwalk trail; walking paths and four boat launch lanes.

Info: 208-769-5000.

Canoe or kayak best way to see this waterfall

WATERFALLS — It's been a great, wet spring to experience the power waterfalls from the Spokane River in downtown Spokane to Palouse Falls near the Snake River and many more.

I've written about the some of the hiking possibilities for many of these falls, including those on BLM land at Hog Canyon (near Fishtrap Lake) and Rock Creek/Escure Ranch.

How about a canoe trip to visit the small but intimate Exley Falls at Horseshoe Lake in Pend Oreille County?

The lake's public access is managed by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, so a Discover Pass is required, or the Vehicle Access Pass that comes with a hunting and fishing license.

Asian clams suck, and they’re in Lake Pend Oreille

INVASIVE SPECIES — A dive team to assess an outbreak of invasive asian clams in the Hope area of Lake Pend Oreille is being organized for Monday by the Idaho Department of Agriculture and Bonner County.

The clams were detected recently during the pre-runoff lake drawdown.

This is serious business. Somebody let down their guard and brought these clams into the lake, probably by not cleaning their boat after using it outside the area.

The clams multiply fast, suck in algae and excrete high-nutrient pellets that can foul water and turn those famous clear-water bays green.

Apparently we need to crank up the penalties to thousands of dollars and JAIL TIME to get the message out.

Idaho Department of Agriculture’s boat inspection stations, open since March 1, already have caught 11 boats entering Idaho carrying invasive mussels into Idaho.

The department has set up 15 inspection stations across the state as a line of defense against the invasion of zebra or quagga mussels.

If you think it's an inconvenience, you're not educated on the subject.

“The Land of Many Lakes”

I came across a Spokane tourism brochure from the 1930s.

On the cover it proclaims this area to be "The Land of Many Lakes."

Not especially memorable, is it?

As a lesson in writing, it points out the virtue of being specific.

"How many lakes do you have out there?"


I don't know when Minnesota started calling itself the "Land of 10,000 Lakes" (a lowball count, experts say). But that's a slogan you remember.

Of course, it could be that the person writing copy for that brochure simply didn't know how many lakes there are around here. I wonder what words he or she toyed with before settling on "many."

"Land of Plenty Lakes."

"Land of Numerous Lakes."

"Land of Multitudinous Lakes."

"Land of a Whole Mess of Lakes."

"Land of a Big Load of Lakes."

"Land of a Slew of Lakes."

"Land of a Boatload of Lakes." 

"Land of Abundant Lakes."


Banks Lake water level rising toward normal range

BOATING — The water level at Banks Lake is coming up close to normal range this winter after a dramatic maintenance drawdown that reached 30 feet below normal in October.

The lake elevation was up to 1,561 feet this week, about 7 feet below the normal winter operating range.

The summer-fall drawdown was a deterrent to boat launching and fishing at the popular 27-mile-long reservoir between Electric City and Coulee City, Wash.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation plans to have the lake level back up to around 1,565 feet by April.

See the fascinating aerial photos made during the peak of the drawdown.

Drawdowns begin at Inland Northwest reservoirs

LAKES — Avista Utilities and the Corps of Engineers are beginning fall drawdowns that change the look of the lakes and rivers downstream.

Lake Coeur d’Alene’s annual drawdown began Tuesday to gradually take the summer level of 2,128 feet down to 2,127 by the end of September. The winter level of 2,122 feet should be reached by the end of December.

Priest Lake’s drawdown begins in the middle of October, marking the unofficial beginning of the paddling season on the Priest River. Generally too low for canoes during the summer season, Priest River takes on new life as flows are increased.

Priest Lake is lowered relatively quickly by 3 feet to its winter level by early November.

Lake Pend Oreille’s slow drawdown is set to begin soon, but not until Idaho Fish and Game, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Bonneville Power Administration meet this week to negotiate a target level. Idaho Fish and Game mainly is concerned about maintaining water levels for optimum kokanee spawning. 

Preliminary results from late summer surveys indicate the lake’s kokanee continue an encouraging recovery from their crash, officials said Friday.

Algae blooms can affect swimmers, boaters, dogs

LAKES — Public health officials issue warnings this time of year to be wary about the color of the water we enjoy for recreation.

Algae, the microscopic organisms that grow naturally in the ocean and fresh water, are generally harmless.

But one kind, called cyanobacteria or blue-green algae, can produce toxins capable of causing illness in people and animals, including dogs.

People can be exposed in several ways — through contact while wading or playing in the water, swallowing affected water when swimming, or inhaling water droplets during activities like water-skiing.

Read more about harmful algae blooms

Read on for details from an Associated Press report.

Fish and river runners are loving the abundance of water

RIVERS/LAKES —  This year's glut of precipitation — 180-192 percent of normal through out the region — is going a long way to recharge lakes, and the heavy snowpack — averaging more than 125 percent of normal throughout the region — has barely even started toward a serious runoff.

We're flush, so to speak. 

A cool, wet April left the snowpack in Much of Idaho virtually untouched, leaving the prospect of huge runoff in the Snake River basin and elswhere, according to the Twin Falls Times.

A Montana meteorologist is predicting "sensational runoff" and flooding favorite fishing streams such as the Bighole, according to the Great Falls Tribune.

However, big water years usually translate into big returns of salmon and steelhead when the young getting a boost downtream during spring return in a few years as adults.

Learn how to fly fish at local lakes

FLY FISHING — Just as the waters are warming and the bite is coming on, a local fly shop is offering a clinic on fishing local lakes.

Local Lake Tactics Clinic

What:  Learn how to catch trout in our local lakes. We will cover the gear, techniques, flies, and where to go!
When:  Tuesday,  6 p.m.-8 p.m.
Cost:  $20. Must prepay to register.
Instructors:  Sean Visintainer and Jon Allan
Where:  Silver Bow Fly Shop, 13210 E Indiana
Contact:  924-9998

What lies beneath

A press release from the EPA says fish with potentially harmful levels of mercury were found in 49 percent of lakes and reservoirs; polychlorinated biphenyls or pesticides were found in 17 percent. The study also points out burning coal and other fossil fuels account for almost half of man-made mercury emissions in the U.S., which contributed “significantly” to mercury in water. The EPA, and agencies working with, selected fish from 500 lakes and reservoirs randomly among an estimated 147,000 target bodies of water.

More information: http://www.epa.gov/waterscience/fishstudy 

More information on local fish advisories: http://www.epa.gov/waterscience/fish/states.htm

Full release after the jump.