Saturday, May 18, 2024

THE WASHINGTON OUTDOOR REPORT April 2

Outdoors Roundup

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YOUTH TURKEY SEASON OPENS

The youth turkey season runs from April 1 through 7 this year and this is a great time to introduce a kid under the age of 16 to all the fun turkey hunting has to offer in a non-crowded environment. The best region of the state to hunt for turkey is in the northeast, specifically Ferry, Stevens, Pend Oreille and Spokane Counties which has a healthy population and mix of both Merriam’s and Rio Grande turkey. In fact, over 5,000 turkeys were harvested in this region in 2021 and hunters had a 59 percent success rate during their outings.

Huntable populations of Merriam’s turkey can also be found in the Southeastern Washington counties around the Blue Mountains as well as Klickitat and Chelan Counties in Central Washington. Another place to go turkey hunting is on U.S. Forest Service land near Conconully or in the Sinlahekin Wildlife Area in Okanogan County. According to Sara Youngblood, who works for the Conconully Chamber of Commerce, “Turkey are everywhere” in this area.

If you don’t have a kid to take hunting this is a great weekend for adults to scout out where those turkeys are before the general season opens April 15 and with any luck, secure permission to hunt private land from landowners. Patterning or sighting in your shotgun to get used to firing it again and practicing a bit with that turkey call are also good preseason bets. 

EARLY APRIL LAKE OPENERS

For years there was an April 1 opener for trout anglers at the Seep Lakes around the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge as well as at Dry Falls Lake near Coulee City which is a quality, selective regulation lake for big trout favored by fly fishing enthusiasts, fishing from float tubes or pontoon boats.

That has changed and Dry Falls Lake was moved to a March 1 opener while most of the other lakes now open the fourth Saturday of April, which is the lowland lakes opener around the state.

There is one lake that has maintained its early opening date in April. That would be Spectacle Lake in Okanogan County which is open from April 1 thru September 30.

This scenic lake boasts two resorts and a WDFW public access launch.  Sara Youngblood told me she loves to take her family there in April to catch trout, bass and bluegill.

Another fish you will find in Spectacle Lake are kokanee salmon.  WDFW started stocking them in 2014 and they have done well.  Last year anglers posting on the Northwest Fishing Reports website reported catching kokanee averaging 14-inches in size.

Spectacle Lake used to be stocked with rainbow trout but in recent years WDFW has stocked the lake with a mix of brown trout in the fall and tiger trout in late March so fishing should be very good this month.

If you plan to stay, there is a small public campground at the north end of the lake. The resorts to stay at are the Spectacle Lake Resort on the east end of the lake or the Spectacle Falls Resort on the west end.

  

EASTERN WASHINGTON VOLUNTEERS HONORED

Two longtime Yakima County hunters, mentors and conservationists have been recognized by major non-profit organizations recently.  One of them is Rich Mann, who served a career as an enforcement officer for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, retiring as a Captain. Rich is an avid turkey hunter who loves to introduce others, especially kids, to the sport and spent 30 years working with the National Wild Turkey Federation working on mentored hunts and more. In February at the NWTF’s annual convention in Tennessee, Mann was honored as the 2022 Mentor of the Year by the organization.

Meanwhile, Rachel Voss, a longtime volunteer for the Mule Deer Foundation and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, has had a one-woman mission of introducing other women to the sport of hunting. She started with one-on-one mentored hunts and soon, she was taking groups of women on guided goose hunts in the Columbia Basin. This year, she went with a group of women to Texas for a guided hog hunt.

Voss’s work caught the eye of the First Hunt Foundation, a national organization dedicated toward introducing new hunters to the sport with the help of mentors. Last week, Voss was hired as the new National Share the HERitage Director, heading up the non-profits programs to get more women afield as hunters. Voss plans to do this by recruiting experienced women huntresses into the organization to mentor new potential hunters on everything they need to know (from scouting to harvesting to cleaning to cooking) so they can enjoy a lifetime of hunting. You can find out more about these organizations at www.firshuntfoundation.org and www.nwtf.org.

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

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

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