NESPELEM - Anglers who want to do some winter fishing can try the Colville Indian Reservation, which has several lakes that were stocked with trout - some as large as seven pounds.
Staff who work at the tribe’s resident fish hatchery recently stocked Summit, Buffalo, Duley, McGinnis, North and South Twin and Owhi lakes, giving anglers plenty of options, said a tribal Department of Fish and Wildlife announcement.
Hatchery Manager Jill Phillips provided information about several:
Summit Lake – The lake offers some of the most reliable ice-fishing on the reservation. It’s on the south side of Highway 155 just before Disautel Pass when coming from Omak.
There’s a gravel road to follow for about a half mile. It’s plowed during winter and the ice usually is good from the middle of December through the middle of March.
The lake has great fishing for brook trout and rainbow trout, the only two species in the lake. Phillips suggests using “anything you’d use for perch fishing” - generally tipping the hooks with maggots or pieces of worm - and fishing along the shore between 10 and 20 feet deep.
Fish can be suspended and swim right below the ice, which is different from most perch fishing.
Hatchery staff stocked 400 brook trout weighing 1.5 pounds each and 40 large rainbow trout weighing 7 pounds each in the summer. Another 34 rainbow averaging 3.5 pounds were released in October.
Buffalo Lake – The lake southeast of Nespelem has a good number of rainbow trout pushing two pounds and some as large as six pounds. Other species in the lake include kokanee, largemouth bass (few but nice size), pumpkinseed (lots of small ones), bridgelip sucker and black crappie (not many, but some nice ones).
There’s also a lot of northern crayfish.
The lake was stocked with more than 7,400 rainbows in the spring averaging 2.4 pounds. Another 249 large rainbow trout weighing seven pounds each were stocked in late spring.
Ice fishing usually is not optimum until February. Phillips suggests calling the department beforehand to check on ice conditions.
Duley Lake – The lake southeast of Okanogan offers a good population of lahontan cutthroat trout 14-18 inches in length. The lake usually has thick enough ice in February for ice-fishing.
“I would still call to double check before making the trip, though,” said Phillips. “There are no other fish species in the lake. I would try jigging a smaller kastmaster tipped with some bait.”
McGinnis Lake – The lake near Nespelem has a lot of nice-sized brook trout; most are 13-18 inches in length.
Plan on February for ice-fishing and call beforehand to check the ice conditions. There are no other fish species in the lake.
Hatchery staff stocked 3,500 brook trout in the spring that will be well over a pound during the winter ice fishing season.
North and South Twin Lakes – The lakes west of Inchelium contain rainbow trout from 10-18 inches in length with a few fish more than seven pounds. There are a few brook trout in the lake, but not in numbers worth targeting.
There are a lot of smaller largemouth bass that can be great to catch as if they were pan fish, and there is a good size range of bass with some averaging seven pounds. Other fish in the lake consist of an abundance of large golden shiners, and a few smallmouth bass.
Tribal officials ask that any smallmouth bass caught be kept by the angler, since they were a recent, unwelcome introduction.
Hatchery stocking for both lakes is similar. Each lake was stocked in the spring with approximately 7,500 rainbows averaging 2.2 pounds. Late spring stocking consisted of 550 large rainbows averaging 7.1 pounds, and approximately 10,000 rainbow trout were stocked in the fall and they were half-pounders.
Generally, ice fishing for rainbow trout is a bit slower in the winter, especially compared to the spring, when it’s really good.
Owhi Lake – The lake near Nespelem offers Colville tribal members a great opportunity to go fishing since the lake was stocked with 1,900 brook trout in October. The fish averaged 1.5 pounds.
Colville tribal members fishing on the reservation must possess a Colville tribal identification card, which is a legal permit to fish. All non-members who are fishing on select interior waters of the reservation must have a valid Colville Indian Reservation fishing permit in their possession.
More information is available from Bret Nine, resident fisheries manager, 509-209-2419. Fishing permits may be purchased online at www.cct-fnw.com/regulations-permits/.
Current ice conditions are available from the tribal Department of Fish and Wildlife at 509-634-2110 or the resident fish hatchery at 509-686-9330.