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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

March 5, 2012 at 9:40 AM

Ice to melting on the Okanogan River, and look for steelhead action to pick up soon

Here is the latest fishing report from Dave Graybill, longtime Eastern Washington outdoor radio host and angler:

I have been eager to fish the Okanogan River. Not so much that it is one of two rivers over that remain open to steelhead fishing, but that this is the time of year that the Okanogan can be outstanding. Every year when the ice comes off the steelhead bite comes on, and that time is now.

I talked to Jerrod Gibbon, Okanogan Valley Guide Service, and he said that there has been open water on the upper river for quite a while, and now the ice has cleared off on the lower river. We are planning to give it a shot very soon.

The Okanogan River is often overlooked as a steelhead stream. It freezes early and by the time the ice clears off people have either had their fill of steelhead fishing or are onto other things. The steelhead in the Okanogan have surprised me in both quality for so late in the season, and size.

When fish in other streams, even the main stem Columbia are getting that distinct dark stripe, many Okanogan River fish are still bright. I have taken fish of 13 or 14 pounds on the Okanogan in March that are bright as a dollar.

It can be a long way between take outs on the Okanogan, which is another factor. That’s why the stretch from Riverside to Omak and Omak to Okanogan get hit the hardest.

For details or to get Graybill’s weekly report visit Dave Graybill’s website.

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