No Foolin’: Scoop On WA’s 4-1 Opener Lakes

A little birdie gave me a call this morning about wolves in Washington. One thing led to another — critter captures, WDFW’s Facebook page, the state legislature — and pretty soon I found myself in possession of the scoop on the Eastside’s April 1 trout opener lakes.

Amazing what you sometimes stumble onto in this job when you keep folks yapping.

This info will also appear in next week’s Weekender, but if you want to plan your trip a wee bit further in advance, here is what to expect when next Friday rolls around, courtesy of WDFW fisheries biologists Chad Jackson and Bob Jateff.

Take it away, Chad:

On Friday April 1st approximately 31 waters will open to recreational fishing for trout and warmwater fish (i.e., bass and panfish).  With the exception of Dry Falls Lake, all waters are located either within or adjacent to the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge (CNWR) south of Potholes Reservoir.  Dry Falls Lake is located just northeast of Park Lake.  Over half (n=18) of the April 1st opening day lakes are planted with either spring and/or fall trout fry.  Aside from Dry Falls Lake, fishing within the CNWF overall is expected to be fair to good.  Anglers should take note that North and South Teal lakes will not be fishable this opener (please view the below summary for these two lakes).

Dry Falls Lake:

This “quality water” is located northeast of Park Lake within the Sun Lakes State Park.  Fishing success on the opener is usually linked to weather conditions the couple months prior to the opener.  If weather conditions prior to the opener are cold and winter like, then fishing tends to be on the slow side.  Nevertheless, anglers should expect to catch 13-14 inch yearling rainbows with carryovers 18 inches or greater on opening day.  Brown and tiger trout are also planted into Dry Falls Lake.  A total of 10,150 rainbow, 756 tiger, and 1,026 brown trout fry were stocked into Dry Falls Lake in 2010.  Anglers looking to fish Dry Falls Lake on the opener should note that this water has a selective gear regulation and a 1 trout daily bag limit.  Please check the current sport fishing rules pamphlet for a definition of selective gear regulation.

 

DRY FALLS LAKE IS ONE OF NUMEROUS WATERS OPENING IN EASTERN WASHINGTON ON APRIL 1. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Upper and Lower Hampton Lakes:

In 2010, Lower Hampton Lake fished pretty well on opening day with catch rates slightly over 3 fish per angler.  Fish size was good with yearlings ranging between 12-14 inches and a few carryovers in the 16-17 inch range recorded in the creel.  Few anglers fished Upper Hampton last opener catching few fish.  Angler who did fish Upper Hampton Lake experienced poor catch rates, but fish size was large (>16 inches).  For 2011, anglers should focus their efforts on Lower Hampton Lake and again should expect to catch 12-14 inch yearling trout.  I would encourage anglers to try Upper Hampton Lake, but if fishing is poor I’d move down to Lower Hampton Lake.  Upper and Lower Hampton lakes were planted with 28,507 and 5,047 trout fry in the spring, respectively.  Lower Hampton Lake also received a trout fry plant of 4,500 in the fall.

North and South Teal Lakes:

ANGLERS SHOULD BE AWARE THAT NORTH AND SOUTH TEAL LAKES WILL NOT BE FISHABLE ON THE OPENER.  NORTH AND SOUTH TEAL LAKES WERE CHEMICALLY REHABILITATED LAST FALL TO REMOVE CARP AND OTHER SPINY RAYS TO RESTORE THE TROUT FISHERY.  FINGERLING RAINBOW TROUT WILL BE STOCKED THIS SPRING.  FISHING SHOULD BE GOOD DURING THE 2012 OPENER.

Pillar-Widgeon Lake Chain:

The Pillar-Widgeon Lake Chain includes (running north to south) Pillar, Gadwall, Snipe, Shoveler, Cattail, Poacher, Lemna, Hourglass, Sago, and Widgeon lakes.  This entire lake chain is stocked with rainbow trout fry during the spring.  Total trout fry stocked in each lake is as follows:  Pillar (2,500), Gadwall (750), Snipe (600), Shoveler (750), Cattail (1,500), Poacher (150), Lemna (450), Hourglass (300), Sago (300), and Widgeon (1,650).  Access to this lake chain is located just southeast of Soda Lake.  Anglers looking to fish this chain of lakes should visit either the entire chain or at least 3-4 of the lakes during their outing. Anglers who are persistent should expect to catch some very nice sized yearling (12-13 inch) and carryover trout (≥18 inches).  While shore fishing is available at most of these lakes, anglers might consider packing in a float tube because it will increase their chances for success.  Usually the best lakes in the chain tend to be Widgeon, Sago, and Pillar, however, that doesn’t mean anglers should turn away from the other lakes.

Warmwater Fishing Options:

On April 1st, there are a number of lakes and ponds within the CNWR that offer excellent bass and panfish fishing.  Probably the best opportunity is at Hutchinson and Shiner lakes.  Since their rehabilitations in 1997, these two lakes have developed into quality warmwater fisheries for largemouth bass and bluegill.  Anglers should note that only non-motorized boats are allowed on these two lakes.  Other options include the Coyote, Bobcat, and Hayes creek ponds located just south of Morgan and Halfmoon lakes.  These ponds are relatively small, shallow, warm up quickly, and offer good fishing for largemouth bass.  Another option for warmwater anglers might be Deadman Lake located just off McManamon Road next to Halfmoon Lake.

And now, Mr. Jateff, your take on April 1 waters in Okanogan County?

Spectacle – should be good for rainbow trout 10-12 inches, up to 800 triploid rainbows 1-2 lbs each will be planted during the month of April

Washburn Island Pond – located 4 miles east of Brewster on the Columbia River – contains largemouth bass and bluegill, boat ramp, Colville tribal license required if fishing from shore, but not if you are fishing from a boat, electric motors only

Okanogan lakes that switch to catch and release, selective gear waters on April 1:

Davis, Cougar, and Campbell – located within the Methow Wildlife Area near Winthrop, fishing should be good for rainbow trout 10-12 inches with carryover fish to 15”,  catch and release only, selective gear rules, electric motors only, small graveled boat launches at all three lakes,  check first before coming over since all of these waters will still have ice on them during the first part of April

Rat – located north of Brewster, WDFW access site with concrete boat ramp, rainbow and brown trout 10-12 inches, should be thawed out by first week in April

Big and Little Green – located 5 miles NW of Omak, WDFW access site on Big Green with concrete boat ramp, rainbow trout 10-13 inches, should be thawed out by first week or two in April

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