Fishing: Bob Jateff, WDFW district fish biologist, said salmon fishing in the mainstem Columbia River above Highway 173 Bridge in Brewster, and in the Okanogan and Similkameen rivers, was slow at the start on July 1.
“It’s picking up considerably now as more fish pass over Wells Dam and start to stack up off the mouth of the Okanogan River,” he said. “Anglers should check the current fishing rules pamphlet very closely, in addition to any emergency rule changes for opening dates and daily catch limits. And remember there is a night closure and anti-snagging rule in effect for the Okanogan and Similkameen rivers.”
Anglers can retain adult sockeye salmon in the mainstem Columbia River above Priest Rapids Dam and in the Okanogan and Similkameen rivers. The daily limit is six salmon, but only up to three adult chinook, of which only one wild adult chinook may be retained. All sockeye and chinook with a floy or anchor tag attached must be released, and all coho and steelhead must be released. For all the details of this fishery, see http://bit.ly/cE8tGj.
Okanogan County lowland lakes are continuing to provide rainbow trout for both selective gear and bait anglers. “Cooler weather this past month has kept surface water temperatures cooler and the trout more active than normal,” Jateff said.
The water level on the Methow River is starting to drop and will begin to provide opportunities for trout fishing during the catch-and-release season that began last month. Selective gear must be used and no bait is allowed.
“If you’re interested in spiny ray fishing try Leader Lake for bluegill and Patterson Lake for yellow perch,” Jateff said. “There are no daily limits for either of these species in Okanogan County.”
Fishing at Banks Lake for rainbow trout, smallmouth bass, and walleye has been decent, according to last month’s WDFW creel reports. Anglers at Banks were averaging a little over an hour of fishing for every trout and bass caught, and about two hours for every walleye caught. Some largemouth bass were also caught at an average rate of about four hours per fish, but the sample size was very low.
Art Viola, WDFW district fish biologist, reminds anglers that Blackbird Island Pond, a juveniles only fishery in Leavenworth off the Wenatchee River in Chelan County, will not open to fishing until July 15. “We’ve had such an unusually cold spring that juvenile steelhead aren’t expected to leave until mid July this year,” Viola said. “So we won’t be stocking trout in the pond yet.” Blackbird Island Pond is used as both a hatchery steelhead acclimation pond and a trout-stocked fishing pond for anglers under 15 years of age.
Wildlife viewing: Although the best times are now at dawn and dusk as summer heat rises, wildlife viewing can be productive at many wildlife areas and state parks throughout the region. WDFW’s Sinlahekin unit has everything from butterflies to white-tailed deer. Both Conconully and Fort Okanogan state parks have watchable beavers. The Indian Dan Canyon unit of the Wells Wildlife Area has sharp-tailed, blue and ruffed grouse. The Bridgeport Bar unit of Wells has white pelicans and osprey. These and many other locations are detailed in the North Central Washington Wildlife Viewing map, available at WDFW’s regional office, 1550 Alder St. N.W. in Ephrata (509-754-4624).
Red-tailed hawks and other soaring raptors may be sharing the thermals with paragliders at WDFW’s Chelan Butte unit of the Chelan Wildlife Area this month. The Paragliding World Cup will be held in the Chelan area July 17-24, after a U.S. National Series paragliding cross country race July 10-15. As the Paragliding World Cup organizers note on their website (http://www.chelanpwc.com), the area has long been known for strong updrafts and the potential for long cross country flights by paraglider and hanglider pilots from around the world. Mid-July is considered the prime flying season at Chelan, with climb rates exceeding seven meters per second. WDFW wildlife area managers say the activity shouldn’t conflict with wildlife in the area, but they advise participants and spectators to stay on established roads and trails to avoid the potential for wildfires.