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News >  Washington

‘People just want to get out’: Anglers take to area lakes as pandemic fishing restrictions lifted

UPDATED: Fri., May 8, 2020

Billie Jean Chew, 45, casts a line into a placid Long Lake on Thursday near Nine Mile Falls. Thursday was Chew's first day fishing since Washington closed fishing due to COVID-19. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
Billie Jean Chew, 45, casts a line into a placid Long Lake on Thursday near Nine Mile Falls. Thursday was Chew's first day fishing since Washington closed fishing due to COVID-19. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

When the fishing season opened on Tuesday, local anglers grabbed their fishing poles and tackle boxes and hit the local lakes hoping for a nibble on their lines.

There were at least two dozen boats on the water at once on Sprague Lake west of Spokane. Monika Metz, who owns the small Sprague Lake Resort near the town of Sprague, said she’s seen a lot of people fishing this week.

“A lady just got a big bass right off the dock,” she said.

Most people launch their boats at the public launch farther down the lake, but Metz said she’s had about a dozen boats launch at her resort this week. Others have come to fish from shore or the dock.

“People just want to get out,” she said. “It’s good fishing. There’s trout and bass. They’re really good tasting.”

She said she’s heard of people catching their limit of trout, which is five. She said unique water conditions at her resort create an ideal environment for fish.

“This is really the best place in the whole lake,” she said. “We have some underground springs right in front of the resort.”

There are also spots to sit and have a picnic. Metz said she’s open for day use, usually from sunrise to sunset.

“It’s really a nice place out here,” she said.

Lake Spokane, also known as Long Lake, also has been busy. That’s something that was expected, said Lara Gricar, regional communication outreach and business manager for the Washington State Department of Parks and Recreation.

“We were anticipating this type of response given the recent closure and the good weather,” she said. “We are seeing a pretty significant number of anglers using our boat launches.”

The area around Lake Spokane is considered part of Riverside State Park, and there are three public boat launches: at the Nine Mile recreation area at 11226 W. Charles Road, another at the Lake Spokane campground at 7453 Highway 291 in Tum Tum and a third on Shoemaker Lane off Highway 291.

Gricar said people should remember to check on what is open before they head out and to stay close to home while recreating. To maintain social distancing, only one boat can be launched at a time, and people are asked to leave an empty parking space between cars at the boat launch, she said.

“Overall, we’re seeing people recreate responsibly, but we’re expecting more people this weekend,” she said. “Be prepared to go somewhere else if it looks crowded or come back later.”

Things have been going smoothly so far, even though plenty of people have been dipping their line in the water.

“We’ve been closed for so long,” Gricar said. “We saw some pretty significant numbers.”

And people don’t need a boat if they want to fish Lake Spokane, which is usually stocked with trout every year.

“People can fish from shore, too,” she said.

Sun Cove Resort is the only public resort on Clear Lake, located south of the town of Medical Lake. The lake, which is stocked with rainbow and brown trout every year, does have a public boat launch maintained by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife at the south end of the lake.

Sun Cove Resort owner Andy Louie said he’s seen quite a few people fishing this week.

“I think they have cabin fever, and some of them don’t have to work,” he said.

He saw about 20 people on Tuesday, which is more than he saw at this time last year. He said he hasn’t been renting out any boats yet.

“They just fish from the dock,” he said.

So far the fish haven’t been biting much, Louie said, partly because the lake was just stocked and it takes time for fish to make their way up to the resort’s location.

“They stock the south end, and we don’t get much on the north end,” he said.

Louie said he’s had a lot of calls asking if he will be open this weekend, so he expects to see quite a few people eager to try their luck.

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