Here is a rundown on how the early trout fishing opener in Eastern Washington fared today:
The March 1 opener was one of the best in recent times for anglers fishing the production waters like Upper Caliche, Martha, Burke and Quincy lakes, according to Chad Jackson, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist for the Columbia Basin area.
The quality waters such as Lenice, Nunnally, Lenore and Dusty lakes saw very low effort and poor catch rates early in the day.
Anglers who participated in the opener were greeted with mostly sunny skies, mild winds, and good to excellent harvest rates. Air temperatures were chilly in the morning ranging from 28-32°F and the wind began to pick up (10-12 mph) at around noon.
Overall, harvest rates in the production waters were good to excellent ranging from 2.7 and 4.3 trout per angler.
Angler effort was significantly lower (50-70%) than observed the past two years, but winter conditions on the west side and pass likely altered angler plans.
“I suspect several anglers are waiting until the weekend to fish the production and quality waters,” Jackson said.
Here are some brief summaries of each opening day lake:
UPPER CALICHE LAKE: Upper Caliche Lake was the best “producer” on the opener with harvest rates of 4.3 trout per angler. This rate is up significantly from 2010 (<1 trout per angler). Trout quality was good with sizes ranging from 11.5-13 inches. Fishing should continue to be good over the next couple months.
QUINCY AND BURKE LAKES: Both Quincy and Burke Lakes fished very well, and very similar, on the opener with harvest rates of 3.0 and 2.9 trout per angler, respectively. Yearling trout size was good ranging in size from 12-14 inches.
Of interest to anglers, nearly 40% of trout checked in the creel at both lakes were carryovers ranging in size from 16-20 inches. Fishing on both lakes should be good to excellent over the next 2-3 months for yearling and carryover trout. Trout will continue to grow during the spring.
Additionally, on March 3 a fishing derby sponsored by Quincy Valley Tourism will be held on Burke Lake where cash and prizes will be awarded for a variety of categories (e.g., largest fish, largest limit, etc.).
MARTHA LAKE: Martha Lake was slightly down from last year, but still produced well with a harvest rate of 2.7 trout per angler. Trout quality was good with sizes ranging from 12-14 inches. Fishing should be good the remainder of March.
LENICE AND NUNNALLY LAKES: Fishing was very slow at Lenice Lake due to cold air temperatures (~29°F) and strong winds (15-20mph sustained) out of the west. There were white caps on the lake surface during the entire creel survey. Effort was lower than observed last year with a peak angler count during the creel survey of 14 boats/pontoons with 18 anglers at 10:00AM.
Only one fish was observed caught-and-released. Water temperature was 42-43°F. Fishing will likely pick up once the wind dies down. No anglers were observed at Nunnally Lake on the opener.
DUSTY LAKE: Only four anglers were observed fishing Dusty Lake on the opener. One anglers was interviewed and caught rainbow trout from 12-14″.
LAKE LENORE: No anglers were observed fishing Lake Lenore on opening day. Currently, the lake is 100% ice free and fishable.