The Eastern Washington early-season trout opener was Saturday, and while a few lakes were still covered with ice, there should be enough options for good action heading into spring.
“Right now, just about every lake is fishable except Lenore, Quincy, Lower Spring and Cup lakes,” said Chad Jackson, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist in Ephrata. “It is supposed to get very cold, but that won’t stop folks from going out.”
Quincy was still 90 percent covered with ice, according to Jackson, and 50 to 60 percent of Burke, was open leaving enough water for anglers to wet a line.
Carryover fish survival from those planted last spring and fall appears to be good, and the trout should be nice and chunky in size.
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Martha, along I-90 just east of George in Grant County, is a consistent producer on the opener. Others worth a try are Upper and Lower Caliche and Merry.
“All the fly-fishing guys will have no problems at Lenice, Nunnally or Dusty,” Jackson said. “Lenore (open for catch and release only) is never fishable (until later in spring).”
The Quincy Trout Derby has been delayed until March 8. Organizers are hopeful the lakes will be clear of enough ice by then. Details: www.quincyvalleytourism.org.
The early March opener is usually hit-and-miss in the Spokane area and tends to gather steam around mid-March, when the weather starts to warm up.
The Tucannon River impoundments in Columbia County — including Big Four, Blue, Deer, Rainbow, Spring and Watson— have been planted with catchable-sized trout averaging about 10 inches, and some “jumbos” averaging at least a pound.
Throughout the spring, here’s what each of those lakes will be stocked with: Big Four, 2,000 catchable-sized and 300 jumbo trout; Blue, 16,000 and 400; Deer, 2,650 and 50; Rainbow, 13,000 and 325; Spring, 9,000 and 325; and Watson, 14,500 and 325.
Coffeepot Lake in Lincoln County received 5,000 trout fry last spring, and will receive another 5,000 later this year.
Liberty Lake in eastern Spokane County received 5,000 brown trout and 13,500 rainbow trout fry last fall, and will get 700 “jumbos” browns this spring. Liberty is also being stocked this spring with 5,000 catchable and 150 jumbo rainbows.
Downs Lake east of Sprague on the Lincoln/Spokane county line was expected to be stocked with 5,000 rainbows by the March 1 opener if weather allows.
Medical Lake in southwest Spokane County was stocked with 2,500 rainbows last May, and will get another 1,000 trout, plus 2,000 browns this spring.
Amber Lake in southwest Spokane County (currently open for catch-and-release only, and shifting to a two-trout-daily limit in late April) was stocked with 5,000 rainbows and 1,000 cutthroat trout last May.
Salmon forecasts released Monday
The preseason Puget Sound salmon forecasts released this week revealed many returns are status quo or somewhat better than last year.
The Skagit River wild chinook forecast is 18,000 (12,900 last year), and the Nooksack/Samish River hatchery chinook is 43,900 (46,300). The Stillaguamish River wild chinook is 1,600 (1,300). The Snohomish river system wild chinook is 5,300 (3,600) and the hatchery forecast is 5,400 (6,900).
The southern Puget Sound hatchery chinook forecast is 96,700 (102,000). The entire Puget Sound wild coho return is 473,800 (464,900), and the hatchery outlook calls for 377,300 (417,300).
In Hood Canal, the wild chinook forecast is 3,500 (3,400) and the hatchery stock is up considerably at 80,600 (65,700). The Hood Canal wild coho return is 82,800 (36,800), and the hatchery coho is 47,600 (68,600).
The northern coastal forecast spring/summer wild chinook total is 1,400 (1,300); fall wild is 19,700 (17,500); spring summer hatchery is 2,000 (2,100); and fall hatchery is 11,200 (4,000).
The combined coastal wild coho projected return is 247,500, down from 374,500 last year; and the hatchery component is 174,200, down from 211,600.
The state Fish and Wildlife public salmon forecast meeting (which includes predictions for Puget Sound) is 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday in the Natural Resources Building, 1111 Washington St. S.E., Room 172, in Olympia. Final seasons will be made April 5-10. Details: http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/northfalcon