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Rain! Beautiful to behold, but drought persists

FISHING — I've written a ton recently about drought conditions, record-low stream flows, considerations for fishing in warm-water conditions and more.

Today's rain is wonderful; just what we needed.

Streams are cooler. Columbia River sockeye are seeing a thermal doorway opening for upstream passage into the Okanogan River. Trout are breathing easier in the region's streams. Firefighters are getting a break.

But today's rain is a temporary reprieve.  The rains didn't fall everywhere.  The mountains area still bare of snow. Streams continue to be at record-lows and they'll warm up again, soon.

So smile today but keep your drought conservation cap on.

Follow the advice in the recent hot fishing blog post.

And sportsmen should be leaders in practicing water conservationist at home. 

Our aquifer feeds the cool water into the Spokane River that trout need to survive hot weather and low flows.

The aquifer is not limitless.  If we drain it down, as others are doing elsewhere, the future is bleak for local trout, as well as for us.

Glacier offers cool fishing alternative

FISHING/HIKING — It will cost you a little sweat and exertion, but you can find COOL places to fish, even in the record-high temperatures the region has suffered for the past few weeks.

Hilary Hutcheson of Trout TV got the message, packed her fly fishing gear and headed for the high lakes of Glacier National Park recently:

We tried to fish Hidden Lake yesterday but the trail was closed for bears. So, we made do on the East Side and had a rad day with some memorable #fish in Saint Mary Lake.

Tribe releases 10K net pen trout in Rufus Woods

FISHING — The Colville Tribe released 10,000 triploid rainbow trout weighing about 2 pounds each in Lake Rufus Woods on Thursday, making the reservoir between Chief Joseph and Grand Coulee dams a likely hot spot for anglers this weekend

"There hasn't been a lot of escapement from the aquaculture net pens in recent years, so we've been stocking the waters for fishermen," said Bret Nine, Resident Fish Program manager.

Thursday's trout release follows the stocking of about 5,500 rainbows in the 1.5-2 pound range into the Columbia River reservoir on  Feb. 24, he said.

Some of the trout are tagged for research.  Anglers are asked to give information from the tags to creel clerks at the fishing access points.

Anglers also can report their tagged fish and see stocking data online.

Five Columbia Basin fishing lakes troutless this season

FISHING — There will be a notable gap in the Grant County lakes that open to trout fishing on April 1.

Anglers will have to wait until next year to harvest catchable-size trout at five Columbia Basin lakes that were rehabilitated last fall to remove undesirable fish.

Last October, fish managers with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife treated Sago, Hourglass, Widgeon, and Upper and Lower Hampton lakes with rotenone – a naturally occurring pesticide – to rid them of pumpkinseed sunfish and restore the popular trout fisheries, said Chad Jackson, district fish biologist.

After rehabilitating lakes, WDFW usually restocks the waters with catchable-size rainbow trout that measure 11 to 13 inches in length. But these five lakes are located within the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which has a national policy that prohibits stocking refuge waters with catchable-size sport fish, said Jackson.

This spring, WDFW hatchery crews will stock all five lakes with rainbow trout fingerlings – measuring 2 to 4 inches in length – that will grow to harvestable size by next year’s opener.

“We know this one year interruption of trout fishing in these popular waters is an inconvenience to anglers,” Jackson said. “But these waters will be fishable next year and vastly improved from the past several years.”

Waters currently open for fishing include Martha, Upper Caliche, Quincy, Burke, and the Quincy walk-in lakes, as well as Blythe, Canal, Chukar, Corral, Heart, Windmill, and North Windmill lakes.

Starting April 1, a number of other lakes will open in the region, providing anglers good trout fishing. Those lakes include Pillar, Snipe, Cattail, Gadwall, Poacher, Shoveler and Lemna. North and South Teal lakes also open April 1 and should fish very well this year, said Jackson.

Fly fisher to tackle trout streamer tactics

FLY FISHING – Montana fly fishing expert Kelly Galloup will present a free program on fishing streamer patterns, 7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 14, St. Francis School, 1104 W. Heroy, sponsored by the Spokane Fly Fishers.

Galloup, owner of the Slide Inn and fly shop on the Madison River, is a nationally recognized fly tier, fly fishing author and TV fishing host.

Brown trout photos document beauty of catch and release fishing

FISHING — Here's a tip of the hat to catch-and-release trout fishing regulations on the upper Spokane River  — and elsewhere for that matter.

The value of the rules is documented in this report and photo comparison just received from Sean Visintainer, guide and owner of Silver Bow Fly Shop.

My buddy Bob McConkey and I were out on the upper last night and caught a couple really nice browns on dries. Bob's brown however looked awfully similar to a fish that one of my guides caught when we were floating TWO February's ago.

I matched up the pics… same brown!

We had fished through this area numerous times since but had not caught him again until last night, he was a little farther downstream but pretty much in the same area. We caught another brown later last night (inset photo) — couldn't believe we picked them both up on dries! 

Visintainer has more photos and details on his Silver Bow blog.

 

State, Avista join to stock trout in Lake Spokane

FISHING — About 155,000 catchable-size rainbow trout are being stocked into Lake Spokane in the first season of a 10-year agreement between the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and Avista Utilities.

Lake Spokane, sometimes called Long Lake, is the Spokane River reservoir west of Spokane, created by Avista’s Long Lake Dam.

While the reservoir is popular among anglers fishing for bass, crappie and perch, trout fishing will improve with the annual stocking of rainbows, each about 8 inches long and expected to grow quickly. 

The stocking already has begun with trout from the state’s Spokane Fish Hatchery and Trout Lodge, Inc. in Soap Lake. The fish are sterile so they cannot reproduce with native fish in the river system. They are marked with clipped adipose fins for ease of monitoring harvest through creel surveys that will begin in 2016.

WDFW district fish biologist Randy Osborne and Avista Environmental Specialist Tim Vore thank members of the Spokane Fly Fishers and Inland Empire Fly Fishing clubs for volunteering time to the trout stocking program.

“Avista has long been providing public fishing and boating opportunities,” said Vore, “but this is an excellent new opportunity to fish and enjoy Lake Spokane.”

Randy Osborne, the state’s district fish biologist, says anglers can expect the trout to be down in the cooler water of the reservoir this summer, and therefore more conducive to boat fishing.

  • Click here for details on boat launching facilities.

But this fall and next spring, when the stocked trout are bigger, casting near the surface off of the docks or public shorelines will also be productive.

Popularity hasn’t dampened Missouri River brown trout numbers

FLY FISHING — A friend of mine taunted me while I was at elk camp in October with text messages raving about the fly fishing fun he was having for bigger-than-average brown trout in the Missouri River near Craig, Mont.

Surveys recently released by the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks support his delight.

Fish surveys this year indicate rainbow and brown trout numbers remain above the long-term average in the Missouri River between Holter Dam and the town of Cascade, says a Montana fisheries biologist.

            State fish survey crews this fall estimated 5,194 rainbow trout greater than 10 inches long per mile near the town of Craig on the Missouri. Not only is that above the long-term average of 3,174 rainbows per mile, but continues a trend of above average numbers over the past three years: 6,034 per mile in 2011 and 7,312 in 2012.

            This year’s population was bigger in size and slightly lower in abundance than the past two years, says Fish, Wildlife and Parks fisheries biologist Grant Grisak, which is typical as the current population reaches its maximum size.

            “This year,” Grisak says, “87 percent of the rainbow trout in the Craig section were 15 inches long or greater, and 35 percent of the population was 18 inches long or longer.”

            Next year, the population should return to normal levels, unless an unusually high water event occurs in the spawning tributaries, Grisak says. High water in the Missouri River tributaries typically results in high rainbow trout production.

Brown trout in the Craig section at 10 inches long and greater were estimated at 745 per mile. The long-term average is 578.

In the Cascade section, near the town of Cascade, the estimate for rainbow trout 10 inches long and greater was 2.260. The long term average is 1,551 per mile.

Brown trout in the Cascade section 10 inches long and greater were estimated at 447 per mile. The long term average is 387.

Brown trout populations are sampled in the spring and rainbow populations are sampled in the fall.

Badger Lake trout fishing revival nixed

FISHING — The revival of trout fishing at Badger Lake, one of Washington’s most productive put-and-take fisheries for rainbows and cutthroats, is on hold at least for another year.

Washington Fish and Wildlife officials said today that they have canceled plans for a fall rotenone treatment that would rid the Spokane County lake of bass and sunfish to eliminate competition for a renewed trout fishery.

John Whalen, regional fisheries manager, said the agency was unable to get all water rights holders to sign a Department of Ecology agreement that precludes using lake water during the treatment period.

In August, fisheries biologists said at least 38 of the 45 property owners were on board with the rotenone treatment during a meeting for stakeholders.

Badger has been managed for trout for more than 60 years. But in recent years, apparent illegal plants of bass and sunfish have degraded the trout fishery.

At a summer public meeting, bass anglers said Badger was one of the area’s hottest largemouth fisheries, with fish in the 4-plus pound range.

State fisheries biologists said the bass fishery was peaking and would degrade in the next few years. They said that managing for trout is more stable and serves a higher number of anglers in a year.

  • May I add that they also likely were wondering who the hell is illegally planting bass in the lake, making a selfish management decision that flushes thousands of dollars of fishing license fee money the public contributes down the drain! But I digress…

Badger Lake’s fishing season closed Tuesday. When it reopens on the fourth Saturday in April, it will have a token plant of trout, if any.

“We’ll be reconsidering a rehab for next year,” said Randall Osborne, district fisheries biologist. “But our June fish survey found that of 17,000 fish collected, 47 percent were pumpkinseed sunfish and 49 percent was largemouth and smallmouth bass. With those odds, we can’t afford to put many trout in the lake.”

The Williams Lake trout fishery also is in jeopardy, since it’s downstream from Badger and soon will be infested, too, he said. Williams Lake generally is on the rotation of being treated with rotenone within a year or two of Badger.

“Trout fisheries generate the most interest in terms of families and businesses,” said Chris Donley, inland fisheries program manager, noting that the once-stellar fisheries at Liberty, Diamond, Silver and North Silver have been lost to the trout program in the past few decades. “I’d hate to lose Badger from the trout program.

“We’re down to just six trout-managed lakes in Spokane County and Badger can be one of the best.”

Idaho’s largest rainbow won’t be official record

FISHING — A monster trout caught below Dworshak Dam in July has been deemed a rainbow following DNA analysis. That makes the 28-pound, 9-ounce fish the largest rainbow trout legally caught in Idaho, according to a story by Eric Barker of the Lewiston Morning Tribune.

However, Tui Moliga of Lapwai won't land his name in the state record books for the fish.

Moliga, a member of the Nez Perce Tribe, legally caught the fish below Dworshak Dam at a time the river wasn't open under state rules to harvest of rainbow trout longer than 20 inches. But the area was open under tribal rules.

After he caught the fish, Idaho Department of Fish and Game officials faced a pair of dilemmas regarding his request to have it considered as a state record.

Read on for the rest of Barker's story explaining this unusual circumstance:

Badger Lake trout rehab proposal isn’t a slam dunk

FISHING – Opposition appears to be brewing against the proposal to keep Badger Lake in the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department's trout management program.

The Spokane County lake, one of th state's top trout producers for many decades, is among three lakes in Eastern Washington proposed by state fisheries biologists to be treated with rotenone, ridding the waters of various undesirable species so the lakes can be restocked with trout that flourish without the competition.

At least one property owner along the lake already is sending out information that rotenone kills off the lake and makes it a biological wasteland.    That myth has been disproved for decades as lakes that are treated with rotenone become excellent producers of trout and the acquatic insects that feed them.

But bass anglers also appear ready to chime in, especially with largemouth and smallmouth showing up in large numbers and sizes this year.  Reports of largemouth up to 7 pounds have been reported.

Trouble is, the fish likely were illegally introduced to the Badger.

Local basser Tyler Brinks wonders if the lake shouldn't be managed for both trout and and bass after fishing the lake last weekend and being suprized at the quality of the bass he caught.

Other trout management lakes proposed for “rehabilitation” are Spectacle Lake in Okanogan County and the Hampton and Pillar-Widgeon Lake chains in Grant County.

These lakes, which have been treated every 12-15 years are among the best trout-fishing lakes in the state when they're at their prime.  In the case of badger, it appears that "bucket biologists" have illegally planted smallmouth bass in the lake, degrading its fishing potential, fisheries biologists say.

Rotenone is a natural product commonly used to remove undesirable fish species from lakes and streams. Invertebrate populations recover quickly from the treatments to provide food for the new crop of hatchery trout.

Final consideration of the proposals will be made by the WDFW director in early September.

According the the WDFW:

Rotenone is an organic substance derived from the roots of tropical plants, which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved for use as a fish pesticide and as an insecticide in the agriculture industry. It has been used by WDFW in lake and stream rehabilitations for more than 70 years, and is commonly used by other fish and wildlife management agencies nationwide. 

Badger, Spectacle among lakes cited for rotenone treatment

FISHING – Badger Lake in Spokane County is among three lakes in Eastern Washington proposed by state fisheries biologists to be treated with rotenone, ridding the waters of various undesirable species so the lakes can be restocked with trout.

The Fish and Wildlife Department has set public meetings on this and other proposals for 7 p.m.:

  • Tuesday, July 30 – at the City Hall Council Chamber, 209 S. Whitcomb in Tonasket.
  • Wednesday, July 31 at the city library, 610 1st St. in Cheney.

Other trout management lakes proposed for “rehabilitation” are Spectacle Lake in Okanogan County and the Hampton and Pillar-Widgeon Lake chains in Grant County.

These lakes, which have been treated every 12-15 years are among the best trout-fishing lakes in the state when they're at their prime.  In the case of badger, it appears that "bucket biologists" have illegally planted smallmouth bass in the lake, degrading its fishing potential, fisheries biologists say.

Rotenone is a natural product commonly used to remove undesirable fish species from lakes and streams. Invertebrate populations recover quickly from the treatments to provide food for the new crop of hatchery trout.

Final consideration of the proposals will be made by the WDFW director in early September.

According the the WDFW:

Rotenone is an organic substance derived from the roots of tropical plants, which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved for use as a fish pesticide and as an insecticide in the agriculture industry. It has been used by WDFW in lake and stream rehabilitations for more than 70 years, and is commonly used by other fish and wildlife management agencies nationwide. 

Spokane River is fly fisher’s local ace in the hole

FLY FISHING — It's summer and anglers are making and executing all sorts of travel plans related to the pursuit of fish.

But savvy fly fishers don't consider it down time to be here in Spokane.  Here's a report from Mike Berube of the Spokane Fly Fishers from his Spokane River float-fishing trip on Friday:

A friend and Ihad a great float yesterday. Put in just below Monroe St  Bridge at about 6AM and took out at TJ Meenach Bridge at about 1PM. River is fishing great. The fish were primarily at the end of riffles and loved any type of brownish olive streamer. I fished a sz 6 woolhead sculpin on a sink tip. All were in the 12-14" range with a couple to 20".  Nymping was productive also.

Hard to beat a Pat's Rubber Legs with a Lightning Bug dropper on the Spokane.

Wading to some of the really good holes should be better in about a week if it continues to drop.

Yakima River stonefly action ready to peak, fly fishing guides say

FLY FISHING — I'm ready to take a few days off, but I'll leave this parting thought to help fly fishers decide what they should be doing with their free time in the next week or two:

Caddis action on the Yakima River has been good in recent weeks, but the insect hatch that makes the Yakima River a standout among the greatest trout rivers in the West is going to peak in the next two weeks.

The Yakima's summer stonefly hatch — triggered later than natural river stonefly hatches in part because of increased irrigation flows — rivals any stonefly hatch in the country, with incredible big dry fly action in the wee hours, according to the guides at Red's Fly Shop south of Ellensburg.

Read on for details from Red's. 

Angler wins Sprague Lake derby with 6-pound rainbow

FISHING — Josh Williams of Spokane won $500 in gift cards and merchandise with the 6-pound 1-ounce rainbow he caught Saturday during the Sprague Lake Trout Derby. The fish measured 24.5 inches long.

Second, $250: Randy Williams of Spokane with a trout weighing 4 pounds 5 ounces and measuring 20.5 inches.

Third, $100: Kathy Armstrong of Bayview, Idaho, with a trout weighing 4 pounds  3 ounces and measuring  22.5 inches.

Fly fisher hooks brown trout of your dreams

FLY FISHING — When everyone else hit the Missouri to "catch fish", Ben Hahn floated upper Rock Creek east of Missoula and dredged a streamer.  It paid off with the brown trout of a lifetime, according to the MoldyChum "served fresh daily" blog.

Sprague Lake Trout Derby has $900 in prizes

FISHING — More than $900 in prizes is waiting for anglers who catch the biggest fish and luck out in the raffles at the 2013 Sprague Lake Trout Derby on June 8.

Tickets are $10 for adults and $7 for kids under 17. No fishing license is required since it’s Washington’s Free Fishing Weekend.

Tickets will be available the day of the derby at the two resorts on the lake:

The Main Derby Station and weigh-in site will be situated just outside Sprague Lake Resort.

Both resorts offer camping, boat rentals, boat launching, docks and tackle.

More info: (509) 259-7060.

May16: Another great day at Cutthroat Creek

FISHING — Rain, moose, bushwhacking, scattered yellow stoneflies, a half-hour hatch of March Browns, 47-degree water, one hook imbeddd in thumb requiring cord-jerk extraction (worked slick) and more cutthroats than you could shake a (fishing) stick at….  

It was another great day at Cutthroat Creek, where the trout are handsome, the anglers smell strong and the fishing is always above average.

Anglers have plenty of fishing options in Washington

FISHING — Get an update on fishing action in the Inland Northwest with our weekly Hunting-Fishing Report by Alan Liere.

Also, click "continue reading" to check out the wide range of fishing updates from saltwater to freshwater in the latest Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Weekender Report.

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

NY Times explores source of behemoth cutthroats

FISHING — After my post on a Spokane Fly Fishers outing to catch large Lahontan cutthroat trout at Omak Lake, I received an email from an angler who was surprised.

"When I lived in Omak in 1965-67, we waterskied there and as I remember the lake was very alkaline and nobody fished it," he said. "Is it possible that the lake I remember is another lake?"

"No, it's the same lake," I responded. "But you hit exactly on the reason it is stocked with Lahontan cutthroat trout, a species originating from the southwest and specially adapted to thriving in alkaline waters.  The Lahontan species also is stocked in Lake Lenore and Grimes Lake."

By coincidence, The New York Times has just published a story recounting the successful effort to revive and preserve the Lahontan cutthroat's genetics originating from Pyramid Lake, Nev.

Note:  Check out the NYT photo of the anglers wading out with ladders to get out to deeper water while gaining a higher profile for longer casting.

Anglers flock to Dry Falls for April 1 opener

FISHING — With April 1 falling on a Monday, the opening day for fishing at many of the Columbia Basin's trout lakes didn't reel in a lot of effort in some areas.

Dry Falls Lake was an exception.

The selective gear lake, a darling for fly fishers had a good turnout, with 45-50 float tubes and pontoons on the water when Washington Fish and Wildlife Deparment district biologist Chad Jackson checked it out.

Fishing overall was good with several anglers having double digit catches of trout, Jackson said. "However, individual angler success was highly variable, that is, some with over 20 fish, some with less than10, and others with 2-3 or less," he said. 

"Anglers who fished chironomids were the most successful. 

"Trout size was excellent ranging from 12-20” and with most around 15-16."

Fishing effort wasn’t very high at the “production” lakes (Upper and Lower Hampton lakes, North and South Teal lakes), but those who did fish Monday morning had gorgeous weather and reasonably good success, Jackson said.

Anglers averaged about two trout each, and those harvested were 13-16 inches. 

Fly fishers find large rainbows at Coffeepot Lake

FLY FISHING — The first group outing of the year for the Spokane Fly Fishers — Saturday at Coffeepot Lake west of Harrington — was a BIG occasion for some of the anglers - with rainbow trout up to 21 inches long.

Read on for the detailed report from club member Mike Berube.

Will art prevail in state fisheries logo choice?

FISHING — Holy heresy! The Washington Fish and Wildlife Department is considering the image of a bass for a logo in its statewide “Fish Washington” campaign.

Actually, that decision already has been made. Instead of taking a stand, the state fisheries managers chose to  have logos featuring both trout and bass.

But the public gets to chime in through February on the graphic technicalities of the logos.

Click here to vote and help choose a pair of new logos that will identify Fish Washington on the web and in other applications.

King of the soft hackle speaks to Fly Fishers Wednesday

FLY FISHING — Davy Wotton, a fly-fishing entrepreneur and professional since the 1960s, will present a program of the history, development and fishing of the soft hackle fly in a program sponsored by the Spokane Fly Fishers Wednesday, 7 p.m. at St. Francis School, 1104 W. Heroy.

Fly tiers have dubbed him, pardon the pun, the king of the soft hackle. He's widely known for the SLF Dubbing Blend Series.

Wotton, who hails from Great Britain where he's has a wide ranging career in the sport, lives in the USA. He's currently the managing director of the American International School of Fly Fishing.

Simple rig catches Lake Roosevelt trout from shore or boat

FISHING — Lake Roosevelt rainbows like those pictured above can be caught November-March from shore as well as from a boat by casting a bait rig. Look for a shoreline shelf under 10-15 feet of water and cast near the drop-off into deeper water.

A proven rig cast from a spinning rod includes:

  • 8-pound monofilament line.
  • 24-30 inches of 10-pound leader (extra heavy to take a beating with fewer breakoffs) below a snap swivel and 3/8- to 1/2-ounce sliding sinker.
  • No. 2 bait hook baited with a mini-marshmallow or PowerBait and piece of nightcrawler.

Experienced anglers have a half dozen hook-and-leader rigs ready to change onto the snap swivel if necessary so they can keep fishing when the bite is on. Keeping at least one rig in the water as a school of rainbows circulates through an area is an excellent application for the two-pole endorsement. 

The rainbows tend to be most active for a short period in early morning and again in the afternoon, although they can be caught throughout the day and night.

A five-fish limit of rainbow trout from Lake Roosevelt is a beauty to behold in December, when the fish released from net pens in summer have had a chance to go wild putting on length and girth.

These are healthy, lovely and delicious fish.

Lake Roosevelt trout a picture of perfection

FISHING — A five-fish limit of rainbow trout from Lake Roosevelt is a beauty to behold in December, when the fish released from net pens in summer have had a chance to go wild putting on length and girth.

These are healthy, lovely and delicious fish.

Limits have been coming easily on most days since mid November, although Wednesday was an exception.  Anglers I fished with and interviewed had to work long, hard hours to scratch out a limit.

Today could be a different story.

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.

  

Trout fishing hot for winter season opener at area lakes

FISHING — Trout were present while any sign of ice was absent during Saturday's winter fishing season at several northeastern Washington trout lakes.

Here's Saturday's field report from the Colville area by Bill Baker, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife fisheries biologist:

Hatch Lake - No ice…all open water. Rainbows averaged 14.5 inches and ranged from 13-16 inches. Catch rates were decent with most anglers limiting within 2 hours. However, most fishing occurred from shore…not the easiest way to fish Hatch Lake due to its shallow, weedy nature. Few anglers took advantage of the open water to launch a small boat, but those that did were rewarded with quick limits. Given the weather forecast, I suspect that there will be open water for a while longer.

Williams Lake - No ice…all open water. Rainbows averaged 15 inches and ranged from 12.5-17 inches. Catch rates were very good with most anglers limiting within an hour. Similar to Hatch Lake, most anglers were fishing from shore. Shoreline fishing space at Williams Lake is somewhat limited due to the rushes and cattails growing around the edge of the lake. Therefore, as long as open water persists, I recommend fishing from a boat if possible. Trolling, drifting with the wind, or anchoring up and plunking bait should all be very effective.

Click here for the report on Hog Canyon and Fourth of July lakes.