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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

February 25, 2012 at 10:39 AM

Early March 1 eastside trout opener should be good in some lakes and ponds

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Trout anglers planning a trip to Eastern Washington for the early season March 1 opener will like what’s in store for them at various lakes.

“At this point the relatively mild weather has all the lakes ice free, although there is a little bit of ice at Burke, Lenice and Lenore, and sometimes the winds can be the largest factor,” said Chad Jackson, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist for the Columbia Basin area lakes. “But, aside from that they’re all fishable and ready to go.”

“Fish survival was good and the fish in the lakes are nice size,” Jackson said. “It should be pretty good, and obviously those who fish from a boat will do better since they can cover more ground, but shoreline anglers should fare well too.”

Jackson says Quincy, Burke, Martha and Caliche will garner good trout fishing, and Dusty and Nunnally should fish really well.

“Those who crack the code at Lenice can have just as good of a time fishing, but it does involve spending time to find the fish,” Jackson said. “Catch rates at Lenice are no different from the others, and those who go could have that lake all to themselves.”

Martha along I-90 just east of George in Grant County is a consistent producer on the opener. Other worth a try are Upper and Lower Caliche and Merry.

The small walk-in lakes in the Quincy Wildlife Area like Upper and Lower Spring, Cascade, Cliff, Dot, George, Cup and Crystal should produce decent action.

There will be a tagged Trout Derby at Burke Lake on March 3. For details, visit the Quincy Valley Tourism website.

Closer to the Spokane region, “we’ve had a relatively mild winter, and it has been really warm lately, but now we are shifting into a little bit of a freeze,” said Madonna Luers, a state Fish and Wildlife information officer in Spokane. “It could be icy in some of the lakes, but should get better heading in the middle of the month.”

Only five of the seven impoundments off the Tucannon River on state Fish and Wildlife’s Wooten Wildlife Area in Columbia County will be stocked with rainbow trout. They are Big Four, Blue, Deer, Rainbow and Spring.

“Beaver and Watson are the two impoundments that are out of action because of decreased water flow,” Luers said. “This is the second year in a row we have not stocked Beaver, and it won’t get stocked again. We are planning a temporary fix to improve water flow at Watson to eventually get some trout in there by about mid-March. Right now our trucks can’t get into Watson because the roads are pretty mucky.”

Fishhook Pond in Walla Walla County and Pampa Pond in Whitman County are stocked with trout.

Coffeepot Lake in Lincoln County is under selective gear fishing rules and gives up its fair share of trout during the early opener.

In Spokane County, Downs Lake, Liberty Lake and Medical Lake will get some planted catchables.

“It will be 50-50 on how accessible Downs Lake will be, but it’ll get stocked with catchable rainbows in March and April,” Luers said. “Liberty Lake east of Spokane is mostly a fry plant which was planted last fall and spring, Medical Lake gets some catchable brown trout and they carryover into the winter from there.”

Amber Lake near Cheney has rainbow and cutthroat trout, and gets very well stocked with fry plants and the trout can be very big there Luers said.

Deer Lake in south Stevens County has rainbows, kokanee and get some triploid rainbows planted later in the season. There could be some ice still on the lake and that depends on what happens to the weather next week.

“The nights are going to get cold again, and in the Spokane area the March 1 opener has always been hit and miss on what is open or not, and might be more like mid-March before things start to settle down,” Luers said.

(Photo courtesy of Seattle Times photo archive)

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