By Al Camp
Selective fisheries in Okanogan County contain some of the best fishing in the region.
Good fishing is expected at Aeneas, Blue, Chopaka and both Little Twin and Big Twin lakes, says Regional Fish Biologist Bob Jateff of the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Chopaka should be rounding into form this summer for rainbows in the 12- to 18-inch range. The lake was rehabilitated in the fall of 2007 and has received plantings since then.
The best bet on opening day continues to be Blue Lake in the Sinlahekin Wildlife Area.
Jateff said only diploid trout are planted in selective gear lakes.
Okanogan County’s selective or fly fishing-only lakes include:
Aeneas Lake: Anglers should feast on rainbow trout in the 14- to 16-inch range at this 61-acre lake located about three miles southwest of Tonasket.
There is a one-fish daily limit. Use of motors, including electric, is prohibited at this fly fishing-only water. Anglers must use barbless hooks. Lunkers like to eat cotids, which enter the reservoir from water pumped from the Okanogan River for surrounding orchards.
The lake is open April 25 to Oct. 31.
The lake’s water level has remained relatively stable for the last few years. Car-top boats can be launched on a gravel access and toilets are available.
A plateau overlooking the lake is available for camping and offers panoramic views of the lake and surrounding hills.
From Tonasket, travel south a half-mile on county Highway No. 7 on the west side of the Okanogan River, then travel west 3.5 miles.
Big Twin: “Big Twin should be fishing well this year with an assist from the aeration system put in by the Methow Valley Fly Fishers Club,” Jateff said.
The 77-acre lake south of Winthrop has a one-fish limit on rainbows.
Gas-operated motors are prohibited, but electric motors are allowed. Selective gear rules apply. A graveled boat access area has been improved enough to launch smaller boats.
A resort — a good place to check on fishing conditions — and public access with toilets are available.
Big Twin is two miles south of Winthrop off state Highway 20. There are marked turnoffs near Winthrop and Twin Lakes Road near Liberty Bell High School.
The season runs from April 25 to Oct. 31.
Black Lake: Open April 25 to Oct. 31, the remote, 66-acre lake at around 4,000 feet of elevation can be reached on a 5.5-mile trail in the Pasayten Wilderness.
It is not a fly fishing-only lake or a trophy-fishing lake, but rather a lake falling under the selective fishery rules where bait is illegal because of threatened bull trout.
Bull trout (Dolly Varden) must be released if caught and cannot be removed from the water.
Black usually is the first lake in the wilderness to become ice free, thus it receives more pressure than many other lakes in the Pasayten.
The lake has not been planted with rainbow trout for many years.
Two nearby lakes — Halfmoon (16 acres) and Kidney (13 acres) — contain cutthroat.
The trailhead for the hike to Black Lake is on Lake Creek, off the Chewuch River Road about 20 miles north of Winthrop.
Blue Lake (in the Sinlahekin): The 186-acre lake about eight miles north of Conconully continues to be one of the best in the county for rainbows and browns up to 18 inches.
Selective gear rules are in effect, except electric motors are allowed. There’s a one-fish daily limit for trout. Anglers fishing deep with flies should do well.
Blue is open April 25 to Oct. 31. The lake is four miles north of Fish Lake in the Sinlahekin Wildlife Area.
A graveled launch, campsites and toilets are available at the handicapped-accessible lake that lies at an elevation of 1,686 feet.
Take Pine Creek Road from U.S. Highway 97 about 5.5 miles north of Riverside, drive west nine miles past Fish Lake and another four miles north on Sinlahekin Road.
Blue Lake (near Wannacut Lake): Fishing for Lahontan cutthroats up to 16 inches and three pounds can be expected at this lake, located a mile north of Wannacut Lake and three miles southwest of Oroville.
The 10-acre lake is fairly sterile due to an alkaline condition.
There is a one-fish limit for trout. Blue’s season is April 25 to Oct. 31. Selective fishery regulations apply. Electric motors are allowed.
A Department of Fish and Wildlife access site with a graveled launch is available.
Chopaka Lake: The popular 149-acre lake, which provides some of the best camp scenery in the county, is located at the 2,900-foot mark on Chopaka Mountain.
The lake, located six miles north of Loomis, has a season of April 25 to Oct. 31.
Fishing is expected to be very good this year at Chopaka, which has received plantings since being rehabilitated in the fall of 2007.
Several state fly clubs, including the Okanogan County Fly Fishing Club, chipped in money to purchase larger rainbows (one-plus pounds) that were planted last spring.
Fly fishing only is the rule at Chopaka, where rainbows enjoy a hardy diet of mayfly hatches. There is a one-trout daily limit. Use of all motors is prohibited.
The lake is best fished the first couple months and the last couple months of the season.
The first part of the road to the lake is very steep and can be extremely rough in April. The road normally is impassable to large trailers and recreational vehicles.
A state Department of Natural Resources campground at the lake offers 15 sites, and includes picnic tables, fire pits, a fishing pier and toilets. There is a small, graveled boat launch.
Ell Lake: The failure of an aeration system caused winter kill at the dwindling lake 16 miles southeast of Tonasket off state Highway 20.
A new system will be installed this summer. The system was purchased with funds donated by fishing clubs and individuals, Jateff said.
Catchable rainbows will be planted this spring to provide some fishing opportunity, Jateff said.
The formerly 21-acre lake continues to go down in size because of drought conditions. The lake often suffers from summer kill, which reduces the number of carryovers.
The season is April 25 to Oct. 31. A one-fish daily limit makes fall fishing a good bet. Selective fishery regulations apply. Both electric and gas-operated motors are prohibited.
Ell has a state Department of Fish and Wildlife boat launch, camping areas and toilets.
Take Highway 20 east from Tonasket for about 12 miles, and then go south on Aeneas Valley Road for about five miles.
Grimes Lake: The private lake, which is open to the public in northern Douglas County, remains a popular selective fishery.
Grimes, which is leased by the state, has a unique season — June 1 through Aug. 31 — and is managed with Okanogan County lakes.
The fish and wildlife department manages the 124-acre lake for Lahontan cutthroat up to 20 inches.
Lures work well the first couple weeks of the season at the lake, followed by fly fishing later. Selective gear rules are in effect, though electric motors are allowed.
An 11-plus-pound Lahontan was checked in 1999 at the extremely alkaline lake, which receives 7,000 Lahontan fry each year.
There is a one-fish limit.
The lake is located north of Jameson Lake and about five miles southeast of Mansfield. Access is via a rough dirt road off of Wittig Road south from Mansfield. Parking is limited for the opener.
Little Twin Lake: The 24-acre lake south of Winthrop has a season of April 25 through Oct. 31 for rainbows in the 12- to 16-inch range.
A few eastern brook trout are available in the 9- to 11-inch range. Selective gear rules apply. There is a one-fish limit.
The lake has an access area and launch.
Little Twin lies two miles south of Winthrop with marked turnoffs from state Highway 20.