Beaver Lake: The lake, which is open all year, contains cutthroat trout.
To reach Beaver Lake, which is a couple miles north of the Loup Loup Ski Bowl southwest of Okanogan, turn off Highway 20 and go north past the ski hill to a trailhead. The lake, which is fun to fish from a float tube, is an easy hike of a couple miles.
Blue Lake: Located in the Limebelt north of Omak, Blue Lake was rehabilitated in fall 2007 and is ready to produce eastern brook up to 11 inches.
Located 6.5 miles northwest of Riverside, the lake is open all year and is four miles off the county Conconully Highway (watch for the public fishing sign) over a dirt road. Spring rains can make the road impassable.
Although there is no boat ramp, anglers can carry canoes or small rowboats to the lake at the south end or navigate a steep hill on the north end.
Columbia River: The Columbia, open all year, provides many opportunities except for steelhead (all trout). Steelhead are listed as an endangered species and cannot be caught or possessed except under an emergency opener.
During the last few years there have been emergency openers for the taking of steelhead.
Anglers can fish for summer Chinook from July 16 to Aug. 31 between Wells Dam and the state Highway 173 bridge at Brewster.
Walleye fishing is predominant from January to June.
Anglers should check the state fishing pamphlet for daily catch limits, which are different for Lake Roosevelt (above Grand Coulee Dam) than the rest of the river.
The current walleye daily catch limit is five fish per day, with not more than one longer than 22 inches and a minimum size of 16 inches on Lake Rufus Woods Chief Joseph Dam pool).
Different walleye limits exist for Lake Roosevelt behind Grand Coulee Dam, with most of its length outside Okanogan County. The walleye daily catch limit is eight fish with no more than one longer than 22 inches. There is no minimum size.
Walleye fishing has become popular on the stretch of river bordering Douglas County. Walleye can be caught below Chief Joseph Dam, as well as along most of Lake Rufus Woods.
The area also has become a favorite for smallmouth bass, though largemouth bass also reside in the water.
There are good boat launching facilities at Brewster, Pateros and Bridgeport.
It is lawful to fish to the base of the Washburn Island Pond outlet structure near Brewster.
Conconully Lake: Both the upper and lower waters, open April 25 to Oct. 31, will be very popular this year as they hold rainbows 11-13 inches and some bigger carryovers to 16 inches.
Plus, each lake will be planted by the state with about 350 triploid trout, which initially will be a pound or larger. Conconully Chamber of Commerce also plans to plant some of the large fish for its annual fish derby.
On the upper lake, there is a state-owned, graveled boat launch with toilets, and a wheelchair-accessible dock. A fee is required to use the launch for those using trailers.
A resort lies near the launch.
A state park with campground is in town on Conconully Reservoir.
The 313-acre upper lake is located east of Conconully and 15 miles northwest of Okanogan.
Statewide bass limits started last year include a daily limit of five largemouth, with no fish being kept 12-17 inches and only one over 17 inches. For smallmouth, which also reside in the lakes, the daily limit is 10 fish, with only one over 14 inches.
Conconully Reservoir: Anglers can expect rainbow trout averaging 9-11 inches with a few carryovers up to 16 inches.
The Conconully Chamber of Commerce will plant triploid rainbow trout averaging one to two pounds this spring to provide additional angling opportunity.
The 450-acre lake, located south of Conconully, is open April 25 to Oct. 31.
The reservoir features several resorts and an excellent state park.
Conner Lake: Located near Forde Lake, the 58-acre lake in the Sinlahekin could be a bit smaller this spring after a drawdown last fall.
The lake should refill this spring and be fine for eastern brook, some of which propagate naturally in Sinlahekin Creek. There also could be some tiger trout.
Travel south from Loomis five miles on Sinlahekin Road. There is no boat ramp because of weeds and brush, but access is possible for those with canoes, rafts and float tubes. The lake is open April 25 to Oct. 31.
Fish Lake: The 102-acre lake, located four miles northeast of Conconully, should be hitting its stride this year after being rehabilitated in 2004. Most lakes, Jateff said, return to peak shape about three years after a rehab.
Yearlings will average 10-11 inches with carryovers up to 15 inches. The season runs April 25 to Oct. 31.
Anglers can reach the lake by traveling either 4.5 miles northeast on a dirt road from Conconully past the upper lake and Sugarloaf Lake or going north on U.S. Highway 97 for 5.5 miles from Riverside, then west on Pine Creek Road for about nine miles.
Two public access areas with launches and toilets are available.
Forde Lake: The 24-acre lake in the Sinlahekin Wildlife Area has naturally reproducing eastern brook trout of 12-14 inches.
Nearby Reflection Lake holds tiger trout.
Forde, built as an impoundment pond in 1949, is open April 25 to Oct. 31. There is a small, public boat-launching area next to the road.
The lake is located 6.1 miles south of Loomis on Sinlahekin Road.
Green Lake: Both Green (45 acres) and lower Green (9 acres) are located about five miles northwest of Okanogan and Omak.
Both are open to catch-and-release, selective gear rules fishing only from April 1 through Nov. 30. Electric motors can be used on Green Lake (the larger) during the selective gear rules portion of the season.
From Dec. 1 through March 31 the lakes switch to a “catch-and-keep” special winter season, without selective gear rules.
Fishing is expected to be good in 2009 for rainbows in the 10- to 11-inch range. Despite being fished in the winter, the lake holds a few carryovers up to 15 inches.
Also in the lake, which has a boat launch and toilets, are eastern brook in the eight- to nine-inch range.
Little Green Lake should provide good fishing for 10- to 11-inch brook trout as well as carryover rainbows to 15 inches.
Both lakes are nestled in a steep valley where it gets dark an hour before other areas.
The larger lake is disabled-accessible, though access is steep. The lower lake has a dirt path. Both have areas accessible to boats.
The lakes can be reached by following Salmon Creek Road northwest out of Okanogan for 4.5 miles, then a mile north on Green Lake Road. Anglers also can access the lake by taking Green Lake Road off the Conconully Highway about five miles northwest of Omak.
Jasmine Creek: The juvenile-only water, located in the south end of Omak, is open all year. The creek runs from the Omak Fish Hatchery into the Okanogan River.
Anglers must be under age 15 to fish the creek, which holds a few rainbows.
Leader Lake: Located seven miles west of Okanogan off Highway 20, this popular, 159-acre lake should provide good fishing early in the season (April 25 to Sept. 30) for rainbow trout 9-11 inches, with some carryovers in the 15-inch range.
Due to spiny rays in the lake, Jateff said he’s been planting Leader with several hundred triploid rainbow of 1-2 pounds in hopes they will escape being eaten by crappie, bluegills and largemouth bass.
He said he plans to continue managing the lake as a mixed fishery, as it’s become a favorite for families with kids during the summer.
The lake offers several areas where boats can be carried to the lake, as well as a concrete boat launch site. Toilets and campsites are available.
Okanogan River: Because steelhead are listed under the Endangered Species Act, fisheries have been modified substantially for all fish species on the river, which flows south from Lake Osoyoos near Oroville to the Columbia River near Brewster.
“The river can be good for steelhead when there is a season,” Jateff said, noting emergency openings this past few years occurred in October and ended in March. A steelhead fishery is dependent upon run size that exceeds natural-origin escapement requirements.
The river, which is considered a warm water fishery, is open year round from the mouth to the Malott bridge for all species except steelhead and trout. From the bridge north, the season will be June 1 to Aug. 31. Bait will be allowed.
Smallmouth bass are the best bet with fish averaging 10-12 inches, though some can exceed three pounds. There is a new 10-fish bag limit for smallmouth bass, Jateff said. Only one can be over 14 inches.
Largemouth bass are present but in limited numbers and mostly restricted to the lower reaches of the river. Walleye action has grown over the past few years, with most fish located near the mouth of the river at the Columbia.
There is an excellent boat launch in Brewster on the Columbia, a rough launch at the west end of the Monse bridge and launches in Okanogan and Riverside. Most shorelines are privately owned, so float trips offer the best fishing opportunity.
Osoyoos Lake: Open year round, the lake is located a mile north of Oroville and spans the U.S.-Canadian border. Of the lake’s 5,723 acres, 2,036 lie in the U.S.
Anglers can expect smallmouth and largemouth bass, a few rainbow, kokanee and perch. A few naturally occurring populations of rainbow trout up to 14 inches and larger reside in the lake, as do kokanee in the 10- to 14-inch range.
The lake also offers good smallmouth bass fishing from spring through fall, plus yellow perch that can be caught through the ice if winter conditions get cold enough.
State park facilities include a boat launch near the outlet to the Okanogan River. There also is a city park with boat launch at Boundary Point about four miles north of town.
Palmer Lake: Some of the best smallmouth bass fishing in the state exists at this 2,063-acre lake located about four miles north of Loomis and open all year. May and June are the best months.
Bag limit for smallmouth is 10 fish, only one of which can be over 14 inches.
The lake also produces naturally spawning rainbow, kokanee 11-13 inches, largemouth bass, yellow perch (great to fish in winter), crappie and a few burbot (freshwater ling, primarily a winter fishery).
Burbot anglers now must comply with the statewide rule of one line with up to three hooks, unless other, more restrictive rules are in effect for a particular water.
Pikeminnow, a state game fish, also live in Palmer. The lake sports one of the most diverse fishing experiences in a state-managed lake.
Campgrounds and toilets are available at each end of the lake, with a Bureau of Land Management concrete boat launch at the south end access area and graveled state Department of Natural Resources launch site at the north area.
There is one resort on the lake with cabins and small boat rentals available.
Rat Lake: This 63-acre lake located five miles north of Brewster is open to catch-and-release, selective gear rules fishing only from April 1 through Nov. 30.
The lake switches to a “catch-and-keep” special winter season from Dec. 1 through March 31 without selective gear rules.
Electric motors can be used during the selective gear rules season.
Fishing should be good for rainbow and brown trout 10-12 inches, with a few larger carryovers to 15 inches. The state plans to plant brown trout every three years, said Jateff.
Drive 3.5 miles north from Brewster up Swamp Creek, and then take a dirt road two miles north up Whitestone Creek.
There is a boat launch, but access may be a problem in winter since the road is not plowed.
Reflection Pond: The five-acre water, sometimes also referred to as Reflection Lake, is located on the Sinlahekin Wildlife Area six miles south of Loomis near Forde Lake
Open April 25 through Oct. 31, the lake includes triploid brook trout (none were planted the last few years) and tiger trout. This is a very small, scenic lake that lends itself well to float tubes and very small boats, said Jateff.
Rock Lake: Actually two lakes, the upper covers 3.5 acres and the lower 4.5 acres. Fishing for eastern brook trout is erratic because of winter kill in the upper lake. The lower lake is more consistent.
The lake receives a plant of brooks in June, and more recently cutthroat in the fall.
The lakes are located 11 miles northwest of Okanogan. Drive west on Highway 20, then north on Rock Lake Road.
There is a campground facility but no boat launch. It’s a very steep walk down to the lake, which is open April 25 to Oct. 31.
Rufus Woods Lake: The 51-mile-long lake, which is actually a river reservoir, lies behind Chief Joseph Dam on the Columbia River just upstream from Bridgeport.
The water, which is gaining a statewide reputation for booting out large triploid rainbows, is open year round and forms the border between Douglas County and Colville Indian Reservation in Okanogan County
Other species include walleye (best near Elmer City), kokanee, yellow perch and a few smallmouth bass. It’s illegal to fish for sturgeon.
New this year is an agreement between the state and tribe concerning fishing licenses.
There will be three designated fishing areas that will include camping and boat launch facilities. State or tribal licenses can be used at these areas.
Other areas — if fished from shore on the reservation side, such as Bridgeport State Park — require a reservation license. Either license is required if fishing from a boat.
Consult the tribe’s sport fishing pamphlet for all regulations concerning boundary waters and what licenses are required. Boundary waters include Lake Rufus Woods (Chief Joseph Dam pool), Crawfish Lake, Lake Pateros (Wells Dam pool), Washburn Island Pond, Okanogan River and Lake Roosevelt (Grand Coulee Dam pool).
Limit is two trout and two kokanee. Chumming is permitted.
Steelhead are unable to reach the lake because there is no fish ladder at Chief Joseph.
The Colville Confederated Tribes plants triploid rainbows in the reservoir. The state started planting fingerling triploid rainbows in spring 2007.
Rainbows also enter the reservoir through Grand Coulee Dam from net pens in Lake Roosevelt. Anglers — and trout — also benefit from a net pen operation downriver from the mouth of Nespelem River.
The state record continues to increase with fish from the reservoir. Norm Butler, Okanogan, holds the current record with a 29.6-pound rainbow caught in November 2002. The fish broke the previous record, set the same year, by nearly four pounds.
Anglers often catch fish into the 20-pound range. In early 2004 Kyle Cantlon, Okanogan, caught a 27.07-pound rainbow. In April 2005, Zach Austin, Winthrop, caught a 23-pounder.
Marked, designated launching areas include Seaton’s Grove Corps of Engineers site two miles downstream from Elmer City, Bridgeport State Park near the lower end, and the Army Corps of Engineers’ site upstream of Chief Joseph Dam on the Douglas County side. There are non-marked, non-improved launches south of Coyote Creek and next to Columbia River Road.
Anglers can travel 22 miles south from Okanogan on Highway 97, then east for eight miles on Highway 17 to a boat launch near the dam.
Salmon Creek: Both the north fork and west fork, which flow into Conconully Reservoir, have a season that runs from the first Saturday in June (June 6) and through Oct. 31.
Selective gear rules apply, and fish must be a minimum size of eight inches. Bait is allowed. There is a two-fish limit.
Fishing is closed from the reservoir to the mouth of the Okanogan River to protect spawning steelhead.
Schalow Pond: The pond, best fished with tubes or rafts, has not been planted in recent years due to an infestation of smallmouth bass.
Anglers should be wary of rattlesnakes sunning themselves along the path to the lake from the east end of Fish Lake. Open year round, the 10-acre pond is 4.5 miles northeast of Conconully in the Sinlahekin Wildlife Area
Silvernail Lake: The tiny five-acre lake that is open year round to juveniles only (14 years old and younger) holds 10-inch rainbow trout and lies four miles north of Oroville off U.S. Highway 97. There is a state Department of Fish and Wildlife access site near the lake.
Similkameen River: Located south of Oroville, this river that extends into Canada offers fair fishing for winter whitefish season Dec. 1 to March 31 from Enloe Dam to the mouth.
The river enters the United States from British Columbia six miles north of Palmer Lake and flows about 18 miles south and east to Oroville, dropping over Enloe Dam before entering the Okanogan River.
Summer Chinook and steelhead fishing seasons are open through emergency regulation only as the fish are protected under the Endanger Species Act. Anglers should check the state Fish and Wildlife’s Web site for opening dates and restrictions.
When steelhead are allowed to be taken, the river is open between Enloe Dam and the Okanogan River. A steelhead fishery is dependent upon run size, which must exceed natural-origin escapement requirements.
A road from Oroville follows the river most of its length to Nighthawk.
Sinlahekin Creek: Anglers with gumption and guts — rattlesnakes like to slither among the trees and willows — will find a few rainbow trout in this north-running stream.
Selective gear rules are in effect during a short season that runs from June 6 through Aug. 31 from Palmer Lake to Cecile Creek bridge.
There is a special winter whitefish-only fishery from Dec. 1 through March 31. Check the latest regulations pamphlet for whitefish gear rules. Also available in limited numbers are kokanee (also whitefish) in the lower creek near Loomis.
The creek runs northward parallel to Sinlahekin Road from Blue Lake in the Sinlahekin Valley to Palmer Lake.
Spectacle Lake: Formed as a reservoir for area orchards, Spectacle is open April 1 through Sept. 30, for brown trout and yearling rainbow in the 11-12 inch range plus carryovers to 15 inches.
There are three resorts plus a department concrete boat ramp and toilets at the lake located nine miles southwest of Tonasket.
There is a five-fish daily limit.
The lake is located 2.5 miles east of Loomis and nine miles northwest of Tonasket.
Starzman Lakes: These three small lakes near Brewster that are open year round are slated to be rehabilitated due to pumpkinseed fish and other spiny rays.
Upper Starzman Lake covers eight acres while the lower lake, located 100 yards south, covers 5.5 acres. A third, unnamed lake of 4.3 acres is located 2,300 feet south of the main lakes. It does not contain fish.
The two upper lakes have been stocked with rainbows in past years. Historically, the lakes have provided a good trout fishing area despite problems with winter kill.
Head north from Brewster on Old Highway 97 for 1.5 miles, turn left to follow Starzman Creek eight miles to the south end of lower Starzman Lake.
Anglers may want to walk down to the lakes instead of attempting the treacherous, unmaintained road. Small boats or canoes can be launched.
Sugarloaf Lake: Water levels remain low at this tiny lake north of Conconully Lake that holds a few rainbows. The lake does feature a Forest Service campground that is a favorite area for deer hunters in the fall.
Tiffany Lake: This walk-in lake holds cutthroat trout and eastern brook.
There is a 10-fish bag limit for eastern brook in the lake or tributaries.
The 20-acre lake, which is fished hard early and open year round, is about 12 miles northwest of Conconully.
Little Tiffany Lake, which is about four acres and holds cutthroats, is located .7 mile south of Big Tiffany.
Wannacut Lake: This 411-acre lake north of Whitestone Lake often lags behind warmer, lower-elevation lakes by a few weeks as far as fishing success goes.
Once the weather warms up in May and June, anglers can expect rainbows of 11-12 inches with a few carryovers up to 15 inches.
The lake, which has an April 25-to-Oct. 31 season, contains saline water (magnesium sulfate) that makes fish taste especially good.
The lake can be reached by two routes.
Anglers can go north from Tonasket on the west side of the Okanogan River for 4.5 miles, then west for another 4.5 miles on the Loomis Highway, then north four miles to the south end of the lake.
Another route is 2.5 miles south of Oroville on the west side of the Okanogan River, then west three miles past Blue Lake to the north tip of Wannacut. A resort and public access with toilets and launch are available.
Washburn Island Pond: This 130-acre diked area of the Columbia River that lies north of Brewster sports lots of weed beds and cover for mostly bluegill and largemouth bass.
Anglers can also find a few crappie and channel catfish at the area on the Colville Indian Reservation that sports a season of April 1 to Sept. 30.
Anglers must possess both state and Colville tribal fishing licenses if fishing from shore on reservation property. A state license is required for fishing from a boat.
Tribal and state bass slot limits are the same, with a daily catch limit of five fish less than 12 inches or over 17 inches. No more than one fish can be over 17 inches.
Largemouth bass run up to a couple pounds at the pond, located four miles east of Brewster and 22 miles south of Okanogan off state Highway 17. Take U.S. Highway 97 to the truck weigh station and travel east on state Highway 17 for about a mile to a southbound road to the pond.
The use of internal combustion engines is prohibited. Electric motors are OK.
The boat launch has been upgraded, with toilets and parking available.
Washburn Lake: Expect a short hike to this 13-acre lake located on Palmer Mountain two miles northeast of Loomis.
The lake, which is on Bureau of Land Management land, is open April 25 to Oct. 31. There is a two-fish limit triploid eastern brook trout 11-13 inches that reach a nice size by fall.
Washburn has a Bureau of Land Management campground, with boat access limited to craft that can be carried a short distance to the lake, located north then west from Loomis on an unimproved road near the west end of Spectacle Lake.
Whitestone Lake: Open all year, this 173-acre lake is considered one of the most important warm-water fisheries in the county. The lake is located about five miles northwest of Tonasket. Largemouth bass bite well all summer and into the fall.
There is a bass slot limit with a daily catch limit of five fish less than 12 inches or over 17 inches. No more than one fish can be over 17 inches. The lake periodically receives plantings of largemouth bass, taken from other lakes, and crappie.
Fishing pressure has declined because perch and sunfish reduced the crappie population. Bass seem to be thriving, with some reaching the three- to eight-pound range.
Channel catfish also reside in the lake.
Best fishing is in the spring before bass start diving for cover.
Drive north from Tonasket on the west side of the Okanogan River for 4.5 miles, then west for three miles to the lake.
A well-developed public access, which is handicapped accessible with launch and toilets, is available. Camping is allowed.