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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

March 31, 2011 at 10:02 AM

Head east of the Cascades for the April 1 trout opener in some lakes

The Columbia Basin is the place to be when it opens on April Fool’s Day (April 1) for trout fishing.

Chad Jackson, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist in Ephrata, predicts a “fair to good” season, depending on weather.

All but one are within or adjacent to the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge south of Potholes Reservoir, and over half are planted with either spring and/or fall rainbow trout fry.

“Those who traditionally fish the April 1 opener should note that North and South Teal lakes will not be fishable this year because we treated those lakes last fall to remove carp and other spiny rays to restore the trout fishery,” Jackson said. “We’ll be stocking them with fingerling rainbows later this spring so fishing should be good for next year’s opener.”

Your best bet should be Dry Falls Lake, located in Sun Lakes State Park, northeast of Park Lake and west of Coulee City in the north end of Grant County.

Jackson says anglers should expect to catch 13- to 14-inch yearling rainbows with carryovers 18 inches or greater on opening day at Dry Falls Lake. A total of 10,150 rainbow, 756 tiger trout, and 1,026 brown trout fry were stocked there last year.

“Just remember that Dry Falls has a selective gear regulation and a one trout daily bag limit,” Jackson said.

That means only unscented artificial flies or lures with one single-point, barbless hook, bait prohibited, and knotless nets are allowed in the fishery.

Other April 1 opening waters in the Columbia Basin include:

Upper and Lower Hampton lakes, in Grant County north of Othello on the refuge, stocked with 28,507 and 5,047 rainbow trout fry in the spring, respectively; Lower Hampton also received a trout fry plant of 4,500 in the fall. Lower Hampton should produce 12- to 14-inch yearling trout catches, probably an average of about three per angler. Upper Hampton may have larger fish, but the catch rates will probably again be slow.

Pillar-Widgeon chain of lakes in Grant County on the refuge, stocked with trout fry in the spring 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 just southeast of Soda Lake. Try either the entire chain or at least three or four of the lakes to catch some 12- to 13-inch yearlings and carryover trout in the 18-inch or better range. Shore fishing is available at most, but consider packing in a float tube to increase chances for success. The best tend to be Widgeon, Sago, and Pillar, but all can produce well.

In Okanogan County, Spectacle Lake (nine miles southwest of Tonasket) should be good for rainbow trout in the 10- to 12-inch range when it opens April 1. In April, Spectacle will be planted with up to 800 one- to two-pound triploid rainbows.

Several Okanogan lakes switch to catch-and-release, selective gear rules, and electric boat motors only on April 1:

Davis, Cougar, and Campbell lakes, located within the Methow Wildlife Area near Winthrop, with rainbow trout 10 to 12 inches and carryover fish up to 15 inches; small graveled boat launches at all three; could still have some ice during the first part of April.

Rat Lake, located north of Brewster, with rainbow and brown trout 10 to 12 inches. It should be thawed out by first week in April.

Big and Little Green lakes, located five miles northwest of Omak, with rainbow trout 10 to 13 inches. There is an access site on Big Green with concrete boat ramp. They should be thawed out by first week or two in April.

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