Dave Graybill - 1/29/2013
There are benefits to the colder weather we are experiencing in Central Washington. While some complain and have had enough, others are glad to see it and are sharpening their ice augers and packing their sleds to head out to area lakes to go ice fishing. I did a survey of some of the more popular ice fishing lakes in our region earlier this week. This is what I learned.
Up north in the Methow Valley, there are folks fishing through the ice on Patterson and Davis lakes. Patterson is known for good catches of perch and rainbow in the winter. Bob Jateff , biologist with the Department of Fish and Wildlife in Omak, told me that while he hasn’t had reports of red hot fishing, anglers are doing well on the winter lakes. He said that Patterson is producing lots of 7- and 8-inch perch, and Davis fair catches of 11- and 12-inch rainbow. There are carryover rainbow in both of these lakes, but many are taken prior to the freeze. He mentioned that the parking area at Patterson has been plowed and there is good access to the lake.
I haven’t fished Davis Lake, but have fished Patterson a couple of times. Perch here are fat and healthy, and we have caught some nice 10- to 11-inch fish. Patterson doesn’t get much fishing pressure during the spring and summer, and although 12-inch rainbow are common, we have always caught a few rainbow on our perch baits that were 15 and 16 inches. Dave Eichler has been with me at Patterson and raves about the quality of the trout from this lake. He says the meat looks and tastes like a kokanee. He loves them. We always had good luck on Patterson with meal worms and Keith Roe jigs.
Dave and his son Evan called me with a fishing report while they were at Fish Lake, near Lake Wenatchee. Evan has been getting near limits of perch here, and when he called me later in the week he had already started on another good catch. He said he had five fish in the ice, and they ranged in size from 9 to 11 inches. These are nice perch for Fish Lake. He said that it was very busy on Fish Lake on Saturday, with probably 150 people on the lake. He has been using wax worms and maggots and catching mostly perch. When I visited the lake earlier in the week I checked with some anglers that were fishing at the bottom end of the lake, and although they had some perch, they were mostly catching rainbow of about 11 and 12 inches. It is not unusual for anglers to catch triploid rainbow through the ice on Fish Lake. A good number are left over after the summer and fall fishing.
Bob Jateff also mentioned that the ice is good at Rat Lake, near Brewster. Anglers are catching fair numbers of 11- and 12-inch trout here, too. There are some carryovers available at Rat Lake, but it opened to catch and keep fishing on December 1st so anglers had open water for over a month and took good numbers of bigger fish.
Ice is thick enough to walk on at Moses Lake, and anglers are starting to catch the jumbo perch. While ice fishermen celebrate catching 9- and 10-inch perch on most of our lakes, Moses Lake produces many that are over 12 inches and a surprising number that are 13 to 15 inches. The area near the 1-90 Bridge is where you will find most of the activity on Moses Lake. There are fair numbers of walleye taken through the ice in the winter here, too, and Swedish Pimples are a standby lure for both walleye and perch.
I also checked in with the folks at Big Wally’s to see if the ice fishing had begun at the Coulee City Marina. What I learned is that the ice had just formed on the inlet and wasn’t safe yet. Another week of cold weather should put a safe cap of ice on this popular winter perch fishing spot and anglers will be able to find out if the fish are still coming into the marina inlet.
Burr! It has been cold throughout the region. This has been a benefit to fans of ice fishing. Those who like to fish Rufus Woods and fish for steelhead on the upper Columbia haven’t enjoyed it so much. This past week I added a lake to the list of those that have safe ice for fishing. I am preparing to be gone to a couple of shows that are going on at the end of the week, and extending into the next.
The lake I added to the list with safe ice is Roses Lake, near Manson at Lake Chelan. According to Anton Jones, Darrell and Dads Family Guide Service, anglers are now fishing at Roses. This lake can be very productive for smaller, planted rainbow in the winter, with some carryovers available. The lake is heavily planted with trout in the fall each year. There are some nice perch in Roses Lake, too, and it may take some looking to find them. Anglers had good action at Fish Lake over the long weekend, taking some perch to over 10 inches, and lots of 11- to 12-inch trout.
I was at a meeting recently with Capt. Chris Anderson, an enforcement officer in Region 2. He told me a great success story about a December 28th operation on Banks Lake. There have been problems with gill nets being placed in Banks, and he decided to dedicate some time there and see if he could catch someone at it. He set up one evening near the Coulee City Marina and was about to give up when he heard a boat moving across the water. The occupants of the boat were all wearing night vision goggles and were running without lights. He watched them stop and place a net. He could actually hear the fish they were taking thumping in the bottom of the boat. He had some other officers stationed on the far shore, and they were in place when the boat came back into the marina. The illegal netters had 50 fish in the boat. Anderson had them arrested and their boat seized. “The bad thing about these nets is that they take everything, not just the whitefish they are targeting in the winter on Banks,” said Anderson. “Successful operations like this one have resulted in reduced netting incidents on Banks. We’re pleased with that, but are trying to get it stopped altogether.”
By Dave Graybill