Those planning a winter getaway to Eastern Washington should pack their fishing gear for some decent winter opportunities.
Southwest Spokane County’s Hog Canyon Lake, 10 miles northeast of Sprague, has rainbow trout ranging from 9 to 16 inches, according to state Fish and Wildlife biologist Chris Donley, who tested the waters over Thanksgiving weekend.
Donley said Fourth of July Lake, two miles south of Sprague in Lincoln County, looks better than last year.
“Most of the fish at Fourth of July will be in excess of 14 inches with some very large 22- to 24-inch fish in the mix,” he said. “Fish densities are not back to where they were historically, 10 to 30 years ago, but the fishery is definitely getting better.”
Donley says cormorant and pelican predation problem on that lake in the spring and summer that makes it difficult to get enough fish to recruit to the population to provide the kind of fishery that existed there in the past.
Donley noted that both Hog Canyon and Fourth of July lakes have a daily catch limit of five trout, but only two can be over 14 inches.
The other winter season trout lakes are in Stevens County — Hatch Lake, about five miles southeast of Colville, and Williams Lake, 14 miles north of Colville.
Both lakes should be good with rainbows in Hatch averaging 12 and 15 inches, and those in Williams Lake running 11to 13 inches.
Other lakes open year-round are include Rock Lake in Whitman County, Sprague Lake on the Lincoln-Adams county line, and Waitts Lake in Stevens County. Net-pen-reared rainbows offer a good winter fishery at Lake Roosevelt.
Three Okanogan County lakes switch from catch-and-release fishing to catch-and-keep fishing for rainbow trout on Dec. 1. Big Green, Little Green, and Rat lakes all have a daily catch limit of five trout, which can be caught on bait.
Patterson Lake near Winthrop can also be good for yellow perch during the winter. Bait can be used year-round and there is no daily limit on perch.
Those heading to certain lakes should know that WDFW access sites require anglers to display the WDFW vehicle use permits. Non-fishing recreationists who use the access sites for other activities need to have a Discover Pass.