The Washington Outdoor Report

Missing Kokanee and tagged Trout
Lake Roosevelt Kokanee and more:


Several readers have recently contacted me about the lack of Kokanee at Lake Roosevelt so far this year. This prompted me to reach out to Chris Donley, the regional Fish Program Director for the Washington Dept. of Fish and Wildlife, to ask him about Kokanee and other species found in this impoundment of the Columbia River.

Donley says, “There are some Kokanee in the reservoir this year but by no means as many as we have seen in the past few. Couple the lower abundance with an odd water year and drawdown scenario and it has contributed to tougher fishing for Kokanee. It’s important to note that some of our avid Kokanee anglers have had a great late winter/early spring, which tells me there are some fish there for the taking.


Donley continued stating, “Roosevelt Kokanee fishing is driven off fish that entrain in from other reservoirs. Some years they are abundant and some years they aren’t. Water elevation, flows, hydro-operations and predation determine what survives in Lake Roosevelt and also what stays in the reservoir long enough to grow to harvestable size and ultimately get caught. Because there are so many variables impacting the fishery it is always inconsistent in its productivity. This is nothing new.”

Donley is often asked why WDFW doesn’t stock Kokanee in Lake Roosevelt. His reply? “We have for many years and saw almost no return on those stocked fish. Most, if not all, were lost to entrainment out of the reservoir or were consumed by predatory warmwater fishes.”


As for other fishing, Donley says, “Trout fishing has been good all winter and should be good this spring as water warms. (It’s) been a little on and off and I would guess it relates to water elevation and a weird water year”, affecting the trout in the same way it’s affecting the Kokanee. As for catching those trout Donley suggests, “Sometimes trolling is really effective and sometimes shore fishing in bays and shallow areas has been more productive. I suspect as water warms fish will move off shore and be more consistently available to trollers.”


Finally, when it comes to the walleye at Lake Roosevelt, Donley states, “If you are where the fish are, it’s been good. The Spokane Arm has been good for the last two months and will likely fish well through early June. The bulk of the fish move into the arm in late winter in preparation to spawn in April and then start a northward migration to Kettle Falls beginning in mid-May so anglers will want to follow those fish upstream as they progress.”


Statewide Trout Derby:

With all of the lowland lakes open for trout fishing on April 24, you’ll want to keep an eye out for any fish you catch with an orange tag attached to their fin. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is once again having a statewide trout derby that runs through October 31 and that tag will get you into a nice prize or gift card. Over 70 businesses are participating in the trout derby this year, donating $38,000 worth of prizes. A thousand tagged trout can be found in over 100 lakes around the state this year. If you catch one of these trout, you fill out the information from the tag online, submit it, and your prize will soon be headed your way. You can find that form and also find out what lakes have tagged fish in them by going to



John Kruse – and





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