Early Season Hike in Lakes and More

by John Kruse, February 14, 2020


The mild weather we are seeing in Washington this month may signal the end of winter and an opportunity to get outside to hike or fish. Here are a few suggestions about where to do both in Central and Eastern Washington:


The recent spring like weather and melting snow have got some (myself included) thinking about early spring hikes. One great opportunity can be found at the Quincy Lakes Unit of the Columbia Basin State Wildlife Area between Quincy and George. Here hikes to the Ancient Lakes and Dusty Lake await. Prior to March 1st the road running between the lakes on the upper end of the wildlife area are gated. You are still allowed to walk in though and can access the Ancient Lakes or Dusty Lake from trailhead parking lots that take you about a half a mile along steep trails of basalt scree to the lakes below.

Another option if you want to stretch your legs more than these short and steep jaunts begins at a shared trailhead below these basalt cliffs. Take Road 9 NW and drive west from Whitetrail Road. The road ends about six miles later at a trailhead popular with both hikers and horseback riders.

A wide trail takes you south to two wide coulees full of sagebrush and surrounded on three sides by basalt rock cliffs. The first coulee has several trails that will take you to the Ancient Lakes, four small bodies of water, one of which has a waterfall flowing into it. The trail into the second coulee leads to Dusty Lake, a larger body of water favored by fly-anglers after quality trout. Both hikes are relatively flat and offer a chance to enjoy sunshine while enjoying the sweet scent of sagebrush and listening to the melodious song of the meadowlarks that frequent this area. The round-trip mileage for the Ancient Lakes hike is four miles and the Dusty Lake hike covers six miles. A Discover Pass or WDFW Access Pass visible through the front windshield of your vehicle is required. You can find more details about these trails in the hiking guide section of http://wta.org


WALLEYE & BASS are both beginning to bite at Potholes Reservoir near Othello. That’s what local fishing experts Barb and Steve Brady shared on Facebook with pictures of several fish caught last week on this lake where the main reservoir is ice free. Guide Shelby Ross with Ross Outdoor Adventures says this is not a bad time to fish for walleye which are staging near the outlets of Crab Creek, Lind Coulee and the wasteways. Try jigging blade baits or slowly trolling a worm just off the bottom behind a Mack’s Lure Smile Blade.

Another place to catch walleye right now is at Lake Roosevelt north of the Spokane River confluence. Several anglers posting at http://northwestfishingreports.com state the bite has been sporadic throughout the day but if you wait it out, you’ll come back with a lot of eater size walleye. Jigs and blade baits are the ticket here.

STURGEON: Harvest quotas are being met on the Columbia River for sturgeon so fishing for them is strictly a catch and release affair from Bonneville Dam to John Day Dam through April 30th. If you want to keep a sturgeon you can still do so if you are fishing between John Day Dam and McNary Dam. As of February 9th, only 37 sturgeon of the 105 available for harvest this winter have been caught.

CARP: If you just want to fight a fish, there are always carp. They are common in sloughs and lakes with muddy bottoms all over the state and you can catch them on something as simple as a nightcrawler or corn on a hook fished off the bottom with a slip weight. They haven’t caught on as good table fare in the United States (Europeans prize their meat) but they do put up a good fight and it’s not unusual to hook into a carp weighing anywhere from six to twelve pounds or larger.

SPORTSMEN’S SHOWS: The Central Washington Sportsmen’s Show takes place at the Sun Dome in Yakima February 14th through the 16th and the Wenatchee Valley Sportsmen’s Show goes from February 21st through the 23rd at the Town Toyota Center. There will be activities for the kids and an exotic animal presentation called “Nature Nick’s Animal Adventures” along with some 75 exhibitors at each show. Go to http://shuylerproductions.com for details.

John Kruse – www.northwesternoutdoors.com and www.americaoutdoorsradio.com


A view of the Ancient Lakes and the waterfall flowing into it. – J. Kruse

John Kruse – www.northwesternoutdoors.com and www.americaoutdoorsradio.com


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