June offers lots of low-cost opportunities to fish and play on our public lands. Here’s a roundup of what’s available.
FREE FISHING AND PARKS PLAY - June 12th and 13th are free fishing days in Washington State where no license is required to wet a line. These are also days where no Discover Pass is required to visit a Washington State Park for the day and several state parks offer excellent fishing to include Alta Lake and Pearrygin State Parks in Okanogan County, Curlew Lake State Park in Ferry County, Maryhill State Park in Klickitat County, Sun Lakes State Park south of Coulee City and Potholes State Park at Potholes Reservoir. An additional free day to visit a Washington State Park will take place June 19th, in honor of the newly approved state holiday, Juneteenth. This is the day the Emancipation Proclamation was read and enacted for black slaves in Texas in 1865, the last state to end slavery in the United States at the close of the Civil War.
ICICLE RIVER OPENS TO SALMON FISHING – Despite very low returns of Spring Chinook up the Columbia and Snake Rivers this year, state fisheries biologists believe they will have enough of these hatchery-raised chinook salmon return to the Leavenworth hatchery to provide a fishery. Salmon fishing opens on May 22nd and is scheduled to go until June 30th though it may close sooner than that if the number of returning fish is lower than expected. Traditionally, the end of May and early June provide the best fishing on this small stream. The limit is two hatchery chinook salmon a day with a minimum size of 12-inches.
TROUT STOCKED IN LAKE ROOSEVELT – Speaking of hatchery fish, WDFW along with the Spokane and Colville Tribes are teaming up to plant some 485,000 fish this month in 151-mile-long Lake Roosevelt. The fish are all triploid rainbow trout and they contain an extra set of chromosomes that renders them sterile but turns them into eating machines. Many of the fish are only 8 to 12-inches long right now but within a few months they’ll grow to 18-inches. Others being released in the lower third of the lake already weigh around one pound.
POTHOLES BASS FISHING HOT – Bass fishing is very good in the sand dunes of Potholes Reservoir right now. Largemouth bass are in shallow water on spawning beds and walleye are also in this area of the lake as well. For the bass fish less than six feet deep with weedless jigs and craw trailers, plastic worms and shallow running or lipless crankbaits. My long-time fishing partner Rusty Johnston and I fished this part of the lake last week and hooked some 20 bass, the vast majority of them between 2 and 3 pounds, along with a bonus 3-pound walleye.
If you prefer trout, Pete Fisher at MarDon Resort suggests trolling for them near Perch Point or in front of the state park. If you don’t have a boat Medicare Beach on the east side of the lake is the place to go or you can explore some of the seep lakes below Potholes Reservoir which have also been producing good numbers of rainbows.
CATFISH ARE BITING IN THE GORGE - According to staff at Gorge Outfitters Supply Catfish catches out of the mouth of the John Day and ponds adjoining the Columbia River near Rufus have been great and there have been lots of big cats caught too. This should make for an interesting annual Gorge Outfitters Supply Catfish Derby on May 29th and 30th. Entrants will be fishing the lower John Day River arm for this contest hoping for a big fish prize. In addition to prizes for big catfish there will also be raffles and included in your entry fee is dinner and country music after the contest ends. You can register at the store in Rufus for $55 and get details at the Gorge Outfitters Supply Facebook page.
BANKS LAKE WALLEYE FISHING IS HOT – Two friends, Brett Bostwick and Galen Presler, fishing two different parts of Banks Lake over the last week, had great success catching walleye. Both got limits of fish with the average walleye measuring 18 inches. There were bigger ones too. One walleye caught weighed over nine pounds. One boat was fishing the lower end of the lake near Coulee City while the other was fishing near Steamboat Rock. Their shared secret to success? A Mack’s Smile Blade Spindrift Walleye Rig featuring a Smile Blade and a Slow Death Hook that rotates the nightcrawler you thread onto it.
PLANNED FISH KILLS – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife will be holding an online meeting on Wednesday the 9th from 6 to 7 PM to discuss plans to use rotenone to kill undesirable fish. The waters where this may occur include Schalow Pond and Fish Lake in Okanogan County. Fish Lake has been a long time favorite for trout anglers but someone illegally introduced brown bullhead into the lake a few years ago. According to Kenneth Behen, the WDFW Warmwater Fish Program Manager, “These fish compete with and sometimes prey on stocked trout fry, rendering our trout stocking efforts ineffective.”
The other proposed waterway for rotenone use is Flume Creek, northeast of Metaline Falls. Brook trout are found here, a non-native species, and biologists hope to restore native westslope cutthroat trout here after the brook trout are removed.
Information on how to log in and participate in this meeting will be posted at https://wdfw.wa.gov/get-involved/calendar/event/rotenone-treatments-eastern-washington. If you can’t make the meeting, you can submit written comments to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife until June 22nd.
CATCH AND KEEP STURGEON FISHING OPENS ON LAKE ROOSEVELT – The opportunity to actually harvest a white sturgeon is becoming increasingly rare in the Pacific Northwest but from June 12th until further notice you are allowed to keep one sturgeon a day (with an annual limit of two sturgeon) while fishing from Grand Coulee Dam to the China Bend Boat Ramp on Lake Roosevelt. You can also fish the Spokane River from the Highway 25 bridge upstream to 400-feet below Little Falls Dam, the Colville River upstream to Meyers Fall Dam and the Kettle River upstream to Barstow Bridge.
The sturgeon must measure between 50 inches and 63 inches from the nose to the fork of the tail. The reason for this unique fishery is these sturgeon were reared in hatcheries in British Columbia and Washington and several thousand were released into the reservoir every year between 2001 and 2010. The survival rate of these fish has been much higher than anticipated, resulting in a fishery that anglers can enjoy this summer.
AMBER LAKE CLEAN UP - The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife reports volunteers from the Spokane Fly Fishers and Inland Empire Fly Fishing Club spruced up and spread gravel at the Amber Lake Access Area in Spokane County last month and paid for the improvements out of their own funds.
Chris Donley, the regional fish program manager for WDFW said the agency is “Extremely grateful to these groups and volunteers for their willingness to spend their time and funds to make the fishing experience better for everyone,” Amber Lake is a very popular spring, summer, and fall fly fishing lake, so the fact that members are willing to come out on a Monday – possibly taking time off to do so – to help minimize impact to the public is pretty impressive.”
Amber Lake is located 12 miles southwest of Cheney. It’s known for rainbow and cutthroat trout that range in size from 12 to 20+ inches.
Written by John Kruse – www.northwesternoutdoors.com and www.americaoutdoorsradio.com
PHOTO - Anglers fishing for trout at Lake Easton State Park – J. Kruse