As with their fellow fishermen in the Tucannon and Grant County, Spokane-area anglers are also enjoying a good March trout opener.
Numerous lakes across far Eastern Washington host the early start to the fishing season and biologist Randall Osborne scoped turnout and catches at several waters around the Lilac City.
Some of the larger trout appear to have come from Liberty Lake, near the Idaho border.
“Things started out a little slow at Liberty, which is not uncommon, but a few bank anglers had caught some 15- to 17-inch browns and a few 18- to 19-inch rainbows from the WDFW access area,” Osborne reported.
He said that Facebook posts show that both species continue to turn up, with one boat limiting on 15- to 18-inch browns, which he termed “a little untypical, but kudos to them.”
To the southwest of Spokane near Cheney, Amber Lake saw a “pretty good turnout” dominated by fly anglers.
“The early-in-the-season theme is the same there, and cold conditions can hinder catch rates,” Osborne said. “However, the anglers I talked to had done fairly well, catching and releasing eight-plus fish each, and having numerous take-downs in addition.”
While Liberty falls under general statewide regulations, Amber is selective gear.
To the north, popular Medical Lake saw a mixed bag in terms of angler success, he reported.
“Yesterday I stopped by to talk to anglers and while conversing with a gentleman, he hooked up and landed a gorgeous 18-inch rainbow which he harvested. He was very, very satisfied,” Osborne said.
He said he also joked with the man, Thomas Conley, that he’d have to train another fish to bite when he next dropped by the lake.
Medical is a selective-gear water.
March 1 also marked the opener on Lincoln County’s Coffeepot Lake and Spokane County’s Downs Lake, as well as Deer Lake in Stevens County and Pampa Pond in Whitman County.
“Based on opening day interviews it is possible that Quincy Lake may have lower numbers of fish overall; however, there a good numbers of larger — 13- to 15-inch — trout to be caught,” he stated.
Schmuck said that it may take more effort to retain a five-fish limit but the overall size will make up for that.
“Spinners and small spoons, from shore, at the south end were working well on opening day,” he said. “Many anglers seem to head east from the launch to fish deeper water; however, they may want to stay closer to the west end and look for trout cruising the shallower, warmer water.”
“Burke Lake was chemically rehabilitated with rotenone in October 2019,” explained Schmuck, “and was recently stocked with around 3,000 9- to 11-inch rainbow trout. Angler catch rates were low and we are advising anglers to forego fishing Burke Lake for any one of a number of great lakes on the Quincy Wildlife Area.”
A map that the biologist forwarded shows a number of Quincy Wildlife Area waters that should offer footlong-plus trout.
“These lakes are less popular but should not be ignored. There is a good chance for anglers to them to all to themselves and many are down in small canyons that afford good protection from the spring winds,” he said.
And boy can they blow this time of year!
Schmuck advised that fishing at Burke “should be back to its former glory in spring 2021 and possibly this fall — depending on fish growth.”
Burke and Quincy fall under statewide regs.
Other March 1 opener lakes in this part of the Columbia Basin include Dry Falls, Lenice, Lenore and Nunnally, all of which are selective-gear waters and were either stocked with fry or catchables last year.
Editor’s note: The initial version of this blog misspelled Randall Osborne’s last name with a u. Our apologies.