Fishing & Hunting
Enjoy a winter angling vacation in Washington by catching species like walleye, steelhead, crappie and more. The state’s winter fisheries are generally open November through March (and some year-round) providing you plenty of opportunities to catch your favorite winter game fish. Open waters available on the Coumbia, Methow and Okanogan Rivers. Always go to the State Dept. of Fish and Wildlife for current regulations and restrictions.
Suggested Ice Fishing Opportunities
Three lakes in Okanogan County open for “catch and keep” trout fishing Dec. 1. Rat Rat Lake near Brewster and Big and Little Green lakes near Omak switch from a catch-and-release regulation to a five-trout daily catch limit. All three lakes provide good angling throughout the winter months, whether open water as they mostly are now, or iced-over later in the season. Usually catches of rainbow trout in the 10 to 12-inch range are made on a variety of bait, lures, and flies.
Other good bets for winter ice fishing include *Leader and Patterson Lakes in the Okanogan and Winthrop areas respectively. (depending on weather, temperature, etc. Always check with WDFW before heading out!)
*Leader Lake is open year around for Rainbow Trout, Bluegill, Crappie, Smallmouth Bass, and Perch with two boat launches, handicap access fishing and a DNR campground. Careful around that ice in the winter!
- Davis Lake
- Cougar Lake
- Campbell Lake
- Rat Lake
- Green Lake
- Palmer Lake
- Osoyoos Lake
- Sidley Lake
- Lake Bonaparte
- Beaver Lake
- Beth Lake
Anglers who fish through the ice on any waterway are advised to check out the ice fishing safety information on WDFW’s website.
Upper Columbia River Region
Steelhead fishing on the Upper Columbia River continues to be productive for anglers braving the cold and putting in the time to land nice fish.
WDFW district fish biologist Travis Maitland reports that although steelheading has not been “red hot” recently, there are decent fish being landed by the hardy and tenacious. In late November, Maitland watched an angler pull a steelie from the pool behind Rocky Reach Dam that measured 38 inches and weighed 15 pounds.
The mainstem Columbia River from Rock Island Dam to 400 feet below Chief Joseph Dam and portions of several tributaries (Wenatchee, Entiat, Methow, Okanogan, Similkameen rivers) are currently open to hatchery steelhead fishing until further notice. Anglers must release wild steelhead, but retain hatchery fish (marked by a clipped adipose fin) to help increase the proportion of natural-origin steelhead on the spawning grounds. The catch limit is two hatchery steelhead per day.
All anglers must possess a valid fishing license and a Columbia River Salmon/Steelhead Endorsement. The season can close at any time due to impacts on natural origin steelhead, as noted on WDFW’s website.
December is a good time to hunt ducks and geese in the Upper Columbia region as advancing winter conditions move more waterfowl into areas where big water is still open.
WDFW Okanogan district wildlife biologist Scott Fitkin of Winthrop notes late archery deer hunting is underway in select game management units of the eastern two-thirds of the district. Check all details in the hunting regulations pamphlet.
For more details on hunting opportunities in the north central region, see Hunting Prospects.
Learn more about all of our favorite Fishing & Hunting spots below