Another early trout fishing season has bloomed this month in many small lakes in the Columbia Basin and a few in Okanogan County.
But, the catch on these early openings is that fishing won’t be good until possibly later in the spring, and lakes up north in Okanogan are still suffering from the iced-up blues of a long, long winter.
“This is still a good warm-up for our late April statewide fishing season, and it spreads the fishing pressure out a bit,” Jeff Korth, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist said in a news release.
In Grant County, Lower Hampton has an expanding population of sunfish, which could be bad news for trout. Upper Hampton has fish-eating birds, like cormorants, as part of its food chain.
Lower Hampton should have two sizes of yearling rainbow trout — 12-inch fish from last spring’s fingerling plant of 5,000, and 8-10-inch fish from last fall’s fingerling plant of 4,500.
Upper Hampton has the larger fish, probably 13-14-inch yearlings and some larger carry-overs, but catch rates will be lower. Upper Hampton was stocked last spring with 26,500 fingerling rainbows.
The Pillar-Widgeon string of walk-in lakes should offer good fishing from the bank and by float tube. The best will probably be Widgeon, Sago, and Pillar. Fingerling rainbow stocking rates were: Pillar — 2,500, Gadwall — 750, Shoveler — 750, Lemna — 450, Poacher — 150, Snipe — 600, Cattail — 1,500, Sago — 300, Hourglass — 300, Widgeon — 1,650.
Also open are Dry Falls Lake in Sun Lakes State Park, just west of Coulee City in the north end of Grant County. Dry Falls is under selective gear rules with a daily one trout limit.
“Expect to catch yearling rainbows at 14 inches and about 20 percent in carry-overs from 16 to 24 inches,” Korth said. “Catch rates should average five to 10 fish per trip, and the right place at the right time could produce 20-plus fish days.”
Spectacle Lake, southwest of Tonasket in Okanogan County, still has a good chunk of ice on it, but when it melts look for some pretty good fishing.
Campbell and Davis lakes in the Winthrop area, and Rat Lake near Brewster, and Big and Little Green lakes near Omak are open for catch and release.