The Washington trout season shifts into high gear April 24, when several hundred lowland lakes throughout the state open for fishing. The annual trout derby kicks off the same day, with thousands of dollars in prizes available in the form of tagged fish stocked in lakes across Washington. The derby is open to anyone with a 2021 fishing license; no entrance fee or registration is required. Catch a tagged trout anytime through Oct. 31 and you win.
Fishing forecasts for many of the lakes opening in Chelan and Okanogan counties as well as those closer to Spokane will be in next Thursday’s column.
At the W.T. Wooten Wildlife Area in southeast Washington’s Columbia County, only four of the Tucannon Lakes are open to fishing following flooding last year. These are Blue, Spring, Rainbow and Deer. Big 4 Lake won’t be stocked in 2021 due to flood damage. Watson Lake’s footbridge was washed away by flood waters, so visitors must wade the river or walk in from Deer Lake to access it.
The Banks Lake Triple Fish Challenge is on for Saturday and Sunday. To learn all the details and register online, log onto www.grandcouleedam.org.
There has been good fishing on the lower St. Joe River, although the mornings can be slow. Fishing a skwala during the warmest part of the day can pay off.
Fishing on the North Fork Coeur d’Alene River has been slow. Nymphs and streamers will do best. Focus on slower water.
Dry Falls Lake, in the north end of Grant County near Coulee City, is expected to have great fly fishing on the opener. It has a one-fish daily catch limit. Rainbows in the 14- to 16-inch range are common, but there are also some nice brown and tiger trout.
Trout and kokanee
Idaho Fish and Game has highlighted some fish stocking events for April in the Panhandle region. Among the highlighted is Cocolalla, where 6,000 trout will be stocked from Monday through April 23. Anglers generally have luck fishing near the inlets and outlets.
Fernan will also receive trout during the same time as Cocolalla. Fernan has good fishing from shoreline, docks and boats.
Jewel Lake will receive 2,700 trout this year. It also has channel cats and lots of bluegill. It has a single fishing dock.
Post Falls Park Pond will receive 1,000 trout from Monday through April 23. It has a fishing bridge, fishing platforms and shore access. Anyone with a license can fish there, but it is particularly good for kids and anglers with special needs.
Spicer Pond near the town of St. Maries will receive 1,000 rainbow April 26- 30. It is easily accessible.
In the Clearwater region, Long Gulch Pond, Mann Lake, Tolo Lake, Winchester Lake, Kiwanis Park Pond, Robinson Pond, Spring Valley Reservoir, Deyo Reservoir, Lake Waha and Tunnel Pond will also receive catchable rainbow trout in April.
Anglers on Lake Roosevelt below Keller report a good early bite for trout as well as decent fishing for the smaller kokanee.
Many lakes that formerly opened on April 1 in Grant County will open April 24 this year. Fishing projections for some of these are as follows:
Park and Blue lakes should fish well with an abundance of rainbow trout available in the 12- to 14-inch range as well as carryovers in the 15- to 17-inch range. Brown and tiger trout are also stocked in both lakes.
Vic Meyers Lake, tucked into Sun Lakes State Park, can produce rainbow trout to 17 inches. The lake has some shore access and is a great choice for anglers with small boats. It received stockings of brook, brown and rainbow trout in 2020 and another 600 rainbow this March that averaged 13 inches.
Perch Lake, also in Sun Lakes State Park, has limited shore fishing but is ideal for a small boat or float tube. It is a great choice for smaller trout when nearby lakes are crowded.
While not known for an abundance of large fish, Deep Lake produces rainbow trout in the 11- to 13-inch range and a few carryover fish close to 16 inches. It also has kokanee.
Anglers should expect excellent trout fishing on Warden Lake; in recent years it has also been producing excellent catches of perch and bass. In early April, Warden Lake was stocked with 7,700 rainbow ranging in size from 12-14 inches.
The Pillar-Widgeon Chain of lakes on the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge are consistent producers of quality rainbow trout.
The Hampton Lakes usually fish well. Lower Hampton receives more angler effort. While catch rates are somewhat lower than on Upper Hampton, the fish caught there are larger.
The Teal Lakes, located along the Seep Lakes Road on the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge, are a popular fishery for anglers looking for good-sized trout. South Teal Lake receives little fishing pressure, likely due to abundant aquatic weed growth and limited access to most of the shoreline. Most of North Teal’s shoreline is accessible, and anglers commonly catch nice 13- to 15-inch rainbow trout. Catch rates, on average, are lower here than on other more productive waters such as Blue and Park, but anglers often have the lake to themselves, especially during the week.
Located on the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge in Adams County, Hutchinson and Shiner lakes are connected lakes with quality largemouth bass, bluegill and crappie. They are best fished from a small craft.
Potholes walleye fishing has been tough, although anglers are catching some “eaters” in Lind Coulee. Try for smallmouth bass along the face of the dam and the rocky area between Goose Island and the dam, and look for some of the big largemouth back in the dunes.
Banks Lake walleye fishermen are getting fish between Steamboat Rock and Barker Flats in about 45 feet of water. Moses Lake is beginning to produce a few walleyes on the upper end.
The sturgeon quota has been met in Lake Umatilla (John Day Pool), but April is an excellent time to fish catch and release. Flows are still relatively stable and warming water temperatures are putting fish on the bite.
Halibut fishing will open April 22 in eastern Puget Sound and May 6 on the coast and western Puget Sound. To support public safety during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Makah Tribe and Quileute Tribe reservations, including marinas and all services, remain closed to visitors. Neah Bay on the Makah reservation and La Push on the Quileute reservation represent the primary direct boat access in Marine Areas 3 (LaPush) and 4 (Neah Bay).
The general turkey season begins Thursday in Washington and Idaho, but the birds around my house just north of Spokane are still mostly in large flocks and will probably be hard to decoy at first.
Contact Alan Liere at email@example.com
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