The Washington Outdoor Report

Early season trout and salmon

Mary Holmberg hauled this monster rainbow trout out of Quincy Lake a few years ago. / Courtesy J. Kruse

Rainbow trout will be biting this March at several Eastern Washington lakes.

The first day of March brings a host of fishing opportunities for both salmon and trout anglers across Washington State.  Here’s a round-up of what’s in store:
SEKIU SALMON:  A special winter/spring season for hatchery Chinook salmon opens March 1 off Sekiu and the Olympic Peninsula in Marine Area 5.  This is not a day trip for most of our readers but you may well be rewarded with a limit of two hatchery fish a day averaging 5 to 10 pounds in size.  Tom Burlingame is the owner of Excel Fishing Charters and expects a good season with limits being the norm rather than the exception.  That’s good news for Puget Sound area anglers who have struggled to land salmon so far this winter in other marine areas.
TUCANNON LAKES:  Several lakes in Southeast Washington provide some early trout options in a scenic area.  Rainbow and Deer Lakes open up on March 1.  The staff at The Last Resort on Tucannon Road near Pomeroy say in addition to holdover trout both lakes have been planted with lots of pan-sized rainbow trout and there are also some 50 to 100 jumbo trout that have been planted as well.  Watson Lake will not be accessible due to recent flooding that damaged the road to it.  Spring, Blue and Big Four Lakes are all ice-free and open for year-round fishing.  
QUINCY LAKES:  Another March 1 trout opportunity opens up at the Quincy lakes between Quincy and George in Central Washington.  Anglers are hoping to fish these sagebrush lined lakes under sunny skies and up to 45 percent of the anglers here come from Western Washington every year to camp, soak up some sunshine, and catch rainbow trout.    
Martha Lake near George is a good place to go if you don’t have a boat and success rates tend to be high the first week of March.  To the north Burke Lake was over run with small perch last year and was treated with rotenone in 2019 so this won’t be a good bet on the March opener.   Several small walk-in lakes however, receive small stockings of trout in the Quincy Lakes Wildlife Unit and Dusty Lake, a larger lake that is also a walk-in destination, offers good fishing for quality trout.  This is in part because you have to work a bit to hike here and the lake is under selective regulations where no bait is allowed, only artificial lures with a single barbless hook.  There is a limit of one fish over 18 inches in size.
Most anglers will likely head to Quincy Lake this year.  This body of water is easily accessible by car and has a good boat launch.  Better still, the Quincy Valley Chamber of Commerce will hold their annual trout derby here this year on Saturday, March 7.  The event kicks off at sunrise and goes until 1 PM.  The angler who turns in the biggest trout (by length) will win a guided fishing trip.    Cash prizes will be given to other top adult and youth anglers ranging from $25 to $100 and there will also be a 12-foot boat/motor package raffled off at the derby.
You can purchase tickets online ($30 for adults/ $15 for youth) at the events page at or at Quincy Hardware and Lumber, Hooked on Toys in Wenatchee and Sportsman’s Warehouse in East Wenatchee.  All proceeds will be benefit Quincy Valley Tourism.
COLUMBIA RIVER SPRING CHINOOK FORECAST:  Chinook salmon may be hard to come by for anglers this spring.  WDFW forecasts a run of 81,700 fish, the second lowest forecast they’ve predicted in recent years and just above last year’s run of Springers.   This number represents only 43 percent of the long-term average in terms of the number of salmon returning and Ryan Lathrop with WDFW says poor ocean conditions are to blame.  Chinook fishing will be allowed from March 1 through 31 and then on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays in April below Bonneville Dam.  Returning salmon forecasts have been off before.  Here’s hoping spring Chinook numbers come in better than expected.
LICENSE FEE INCREASE?  The Washington Dept. of Fish and Wildlife is facing a 26-million-dollar budget shortfall this year.  Governor Jay Inslee proposed giving the agency just 15 million dollars and have angler and hunter license fee increases make up the rest.   Fortunately, both the House (with a 24 million dollar proposed budget) and Senate (with a 21 million dollar proposed budget) realized that license fee increases were not the way to go this year.  It remains to be seen what the final budget will be for this long under funded agency but things are looking better than they were when the Governor unveiled his initial budget.

User menu

NCW Media Newspapers