Introduction to Fishrapper 2009
By Al Camp
Anglers can expect great fishing success in just about every corner of Okanogan County this season.
The general statewide fishing season for lakes runs from April 25 to Oct. 31. Rivers, streams and beaver ponds, unless otherwise noted, open June 6 and run through Oct. 31.
The Colville Confederated Tribes’ general fishing season (19 lakes and five creeks or rivers on or adjacent to the Colville Indian Reservation) runs April 11 to Oct. 31. Streams close Oct. 31 unless otherwise specified under special regulations.
(See separate story for reservation prospects, Page 8.)
Flyfishing anglers should check out the selective fisheries at Aeneas, Blue (in the Sinlahekin Wildlife Area) and Chopaka, which is bouncing back from a rehabilitation in the fall of 2007 with fish of 12-18 inches. (More: Page 7.)
Lowland lakes expected to do well include Blue Lake in the Limebelt, with eastern brook up to 11 inches; Leader, where the state has planted triploid rainbows; and Fish Lake in the Sinlahekin.
There is a summer Chinook salmon season of July 16 to Aug. 31 between Wells Dam and the state Highway 173 bridge at Brewster. The change should be in the new state rule pamphlet.
A free fishing weekend is June 6-7. No license is required of anyone — resident or non-resident — to fish in Washington on those days. Other restrictions and rules do apply.
Some anglers got a head start on the season with an April 1 opening for Davis and Campbell lakes in the Methow Valley.
Also opening for catch-and-release fishing were Little Green and Green lakes near Okanogan and Rat Lake near Brewster, said Bob Jateff, who manages 67 lowland lakes in Okanogan County that represent about 18 percent of the state’s lakes managed by the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The county also contains 110 alpine lakes that sit above 4,500 feet; cutthroat and rainbows often propagate naturally there. All alpine lakes — if not listed in special rules — are open year-round, Jateff said.
Some alpine lakes are planted with native cutthroats, he said. Maps to the lakes are available at Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest offices.
County lakes contain rainbow (including triploids), tiger trout, brown trout, eastern brook trout, largemouth and smallmouth bass, cutthroat, perch, bluegill, crappie, catfish and kokanee.
Tiger trout are being planted in Bonaparte and Washburn lakes. Tiger trout are sterile and very aggressive feeders, and are a cross between brook and brown trout.
Best success in the county comes by fishing lowland lakes early. As the weather warms, fishing improves at higher-elevation lakes such as Chopaka, Bonaparte, Wannacut, Sidley, Beth and Molson, and at lakes in the Methow Valley.