UPDATED, 11:57 A.M., Iran 0-USA 1, with additional details for Western Washington in the 16th-18th paragraphs.
Whether you call it the winter opener or Black Friday fishing, anglers enjoyed some post-Thanksgiving success on Eastern Washington waters.
“Limits” was among the watchwords in a report from WDFW’s Staci Lehman in Spokane, but lakes are also starting to seriously ice up and this week’s wintery forecast will make for potentially tougher sledding in the short term.
In Region 1, far Eastern Washington, Fourth of July Lake south of Sprague “fished pretty well for those willing to put in a little effort to get to open water,” according to Lehman.
“Most people who did were rewarded with limits. Overall, the fish were a little smaller than in years past, but were still really nice (only two of the 50-plus fish checked were over 20 inches. Most were 15-18 inches),” she reported.
Fourth of July is among the Eastside lakes that open on the Friday after Turkey Day.
Another is Hog Canyon, to the east of Sprague and at a bit higher in elevation. It is reported as 90 percent covered in ice.
“Staff observed several people ice fishing, but only checked one angler who walked down to the open water and caught three fish about 14 inches,” Lehman said.
Where Fourth of July and Hog Canyon are powered by a mix of stocker and fingerling releases, it’s all jumbo catchables put into the Yakima area’s North Elton Pond, some 2,050 in mid-November, and many were willing biters.
“Staffer Joe Tucker says he arrived around 10 a.m. and searched a while to find somewhere to fish due to the lake being about three-quarters iced over,” said Lehman. “He ended up bushwhacking along the south end of the pond to find some nonfrozen water, where he limited out in 45 minutes. He was using roughly a 1-ounce barrel weight with around 3 feet of leader, and a size 6 hook, with garlic-scented PowerEggs to float the bait above the weeds.”
Lehman said that Tucker’s fish ranged from 14 to 17 inches and were either just over or just below a pound.
Kayak and pontoon anglers also were finding success, she reported.
“Everyone that was fishing the unthawed area of the pond were catching fish,” Lehman said.
Curlew Lake is actually open year-round and not part of the Black Friday festivities, but don’t tell that to members of a Tri-Cities family who ventured north to Ferry County to try their luck over the long holiday weekend.
“Haven’t found any massive schools of perch yet, but lots of trout out here,” reported Jerry Han. “Smaller trout are abundant. We switched to pulling Shad Raps and Flicker Shads to target bigger trout.”
Over two dozen Western Washington lakes were also stocked for the late fall fishery – find the list and details.
WDFW’s Mark Yuasa said he heard from friends fishing Beaver Lake on the Sammamish Plateau that it “was good” for the 1.5-pounders from the nearby Issaquah Hatchery, but has since slowed, per agency biologist Justin Spinelli.
“Justin also conveyed that all lakes were stocked as planned by Tuesday, November 22, though the allotments from last week didn’t populate online until today. He said there was a surplus stock of 970 fish at Lake Roesiger and fish were biting at Cranberry Lake as soon as it was stocked on Monday,” Yuasa said.
“I feel these lakes don’t get massive pressure, so the opportunity should be good for some time,” he added.
And if that’s not enough to tide you over, check out the December issue of Northwest Sportsman in which our Jeff Holmes details his favorite Eastside winter trout waters and Yuasa highlights the developing lake whitefish fishery at Banks Lake!