AP NEWS

Rainbows aplenty at early openings on Hog Canyon, Fourth of July lakes

November 24, 2016 GMT

Good fishing for rainbow trout will greet anglers at two winter fishing lakes poised to open Friday, according to fisheries biologists who sampled the lakes west of Spokane this week.

Hog Canyon and Fourth of July lakes, which traditionally had opened on Dec. 1, where changed two years ago to opening on the first Friday after Thanksgiving. The lakes remain open through March 31, giving anglers a shot at open water and ice fishing through the course of the season.

Hog Canyon is mostly on BLM land south of the Fishtrap Exit off Interstate 90. Fourth of July Lake is on private land with public fishing access south of Sprague.

Hog Canyon trout ranged from 12½ to 15½ inches during the sampling on Monday with plenty of fish both above and below the 14-inch mark, said Randy Osborne, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife fisheries biologist.

Fourth of July rainbows ran a little larger overall, ranging from 9 to 22½ inches. “Fair numbers of fish on either side of the 14-inch mark there too,” he said. “Anglers should have a pretty good opener at each of these lakes.”

Low water conditions at Fourth of July Lake once again will make it difficult for anglers to get any type of craft on the water, Osborn reported. That limits most anglers to walk-in fishing.

“Those putting the effort to hike in there, though, should be rewarded with some pretty nice fish,” Osborne said. “It’s currently a non-issue due to conditions, but keep in mind that internal combustion motors are prohibited at Fourth of July.”

Hog Canyon water levels are lower than normal, but anglers’ boats can still be launched. The rocky launch requires caution.

Many anglers also hike in to bank-fishing sites.

Ice fishing conditions are still weeks away. “The Fish and Wildlife Department does not provide ice condition information to the public because there is too much liability in providing that information,” Osborne said, noting that staff is not available to monitor changing ice conditions.

It’s up to anglers to be sure ice is thick enough to support them before venturing onto frozen lakes.

At Fourth of July Lake, access to the lake is Department of Natural Resources land but most of the lake shoreline is privately owned by Hercules Ranch.

“During fishing season, the ranch is OK with people walking around the lake to go fishing as long as they pick up after themselves,” Osborne said.

He noted that littering and abuse to private land prompted permanent closure of public access at the north end of West Medical Lake last year. “I try to spread word so it doesn’t happen out at Fourth of July, too,” Osborne said.