Updated 5:00 p.m., March 3, 2020 at bottom with info on Region 2, where “It was one of the better March openers we’ve had in a little while,” according to the regional fisheries manager.
Anglers found biting trout at several Tucannon Valley lakes, though February’s flooding has impacted other waters there and hunters will also want to be aware of road closures as their spring seasons approach.
“Fishing for us was excellent, with limits pretty quick using Pautzke’s eggs, spinners, and flies,” reported Tri-Cities’ Jerry Han, who makes an annual late winter pilgrimage to fish these Southeast Washington ponds with his family.
While some of the chain of lakes are open year-round, fishing on others kicked off March 1.
Just ahead of that date WDFW stocked Blue Lake with 2,600 catchables and 100 1-plus-pounders; Rainbow Lake with nearly 4,900 catchables and 100 1-plus-pounders; Spring Lake with 3,000 catchables and 100 1-plus-pounders; and Deer Lake with 1,000 catchables and 50 1-plus-pounders, according to The Last Resort’s Facebook page.
Watson Lake, which opened Sunday, was not stocked, nor were several others.
“The footbridge to Beaver-Watson Lakes was washed out and damaged and will need to be replaced, but I do not currently have an estimate on when that replacement will occur,” reported Kari Dingman, assistant manager for WDFW’s WT Wooten Wildlife Area.
She said the state lands sustained “significant damage” due to flooding.
Rains and melting snow early last month saw the Tucannon to jump from 300 cubic feet per second to 3,000 fps, as measured at the Starbuck gauge near the mouth.
The news is worse higher up the valley.
“As of yesterday, the report for Big Four Lake is not good.,” Dingman added. “The lake is still there, but the river channel has incised and moved and we may not be able to get water into it this year.”
Big Four is fly fishing only and is the third highest stocked lake in the drainage, after Curl and Donnie.
When that trio will be accessible again is a good question. The Umatilla National Forest closed the Tucannon River Road from the turnoff to WDFW’s hatchery, upstream into the headwaters.
Dingman said that the road’s washed out and has rock slides over it in multiple locations, and while the Forest Service is lining up contractors to get it fixed, there’s no estimated time that it will reopen.
That’s something spring turkey and permit bear hunters will want to be aware of as seasons arrive next month.
But in the meanwhile, lower down in the Tucannon trout were providing plenty of smiles for anglers.
“It was a great time with my parents and son Austin,” Han reported. “Lots of wildlife viewing going up and back; we even saw a black bear just off the road.”
Trout fishing also began at select waters in Grant County, and Chad Jackson, regional fish manager, called it “one of the better March openers we’ve had in a little while.”
“All lakes were ice free well before the opener. The weather — clear sunny skies, mild temperatures, and little to no wind — was fantastic for fishing,” he reported
“Anglers packed into Martha, Upper Caliche, and Quincy Lakes and experienced excellent catch rates for some very nice size fish up to 20 inches,” Jackson stated. “There we quite a few fly anglers fishing Lenice, Nunnally, and Dusty Lakes. Reports back from anglers fishing those lakes were very positive.”
Of note, the annual Quincy Chamber of Commerce Trout Derby will be held on Quincy Lake instead of Burke Lake, according to local angler Dave Graybill. It’s slated for March 7,