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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

February 24, 2011 at 7:31 PM

Freezing cold weather and iced over lakes could affect Eastern Washington early trout opener

The early Eastern Washington trout fishing opener is March 1, although winterlike weather could once again ice up some lakes.

“It’s not looking like a lot of the lakes will be fishable, and it will be a mixed bag since the cold front moved in,” said Chad Jackson, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist in Ephrata.

The best bet initially will be Martha Lake in Grant County.

“Martha’s northwestern half of the lake should fish really well, and there are some nice size catchable trout (12 to 13 inches, and some larger ones as well) that we put in last fall,” Jackson said. “The Caliche lakes (southwest of George) should be the same game with really good catch rates, but fish will be smaller (8 to 10 inches).”

Caliche faced a really early winter freeze, and it iced up so fisheries personnel couldn’t do a late fall hatchery trout plant.

The Columbia Basin lakes were thawing, but most won’t be fishable with another freeze on the horizon.

“Quincy and Burke (in Quincy Wildlife Area) should all fish well, and we had a lot of trout planted last fall,” Jackson said. “But at the moment only Burke is marginally fishable and Quincy isn’t. Dusty is mostly open and free of ice, and will be a mixed bag since the cold front moved back in.”

Dave Graybill, longtime north central Washington angler, wanted to let anglers know about the upcoming Trout Derby on March 5 at Burke and Quincy lakes, hosted by Quincy Valley Tourism. If the lakes are more than 50 percent covered with ice, then the derby will be held April 2.

There are plenty of other lakes worth looking at east of the Cascades, said Jeff Korth, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist in Spokane.

“Windmill and Canal (part of the Potholes Area Seep Lakes chain) are year-round lakes and all got fish in them,” Korth said. “The Seep Lakes should be ones that anglers watch closely. Lake Roosevelt is good for mainly rainbows.”

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