Friday, February 23, 2024




The modern firearm deer season opened on the October 15 and lots of hunters were in the woods hoping to tag out on a buck. In Northeast and Southeast Washington, a number of voluntary check stations were open with biologists taking samples from harvested deer to check for the presence of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD).

Staci Lehman with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife stated, “We collected just over 50 samples from deer at eight check stations in Region One. We had over 200 hunters stop at check stations and it varied based on the location of the check station. It seemed like Republic, Deer Park, Walla Walla, and Clarkston may have had the most hunters visit the check station. We also had a handful of individuals stop with their roadkill salvaged deer and elk for sampling at check stations, which was great!”

Checking with Lonna Custis at the Beaver Lodge Resort near Colville, I learned a lot of hunters have been having success in the area but Custis says you can’t expect to find the bucks driving around, you have to get out of your vehicle and do some walking to find them. Custis said several customers have bagged big bucks but they have been very secretive as to where they found them.


Two consecutive dry summers in the Columbia Basin, coupled with an Indian Summer this year, made for an interesting waterfowl season opener on the October 15. For the first time in my 40 plus years of hunting in this region, I saw no green-winged teal, but instead blue-winged teal, which normally migrate out of the area in September. Many of the ponds that normally hold water near Frenchman’s and Winchester Wasteway were dry and both the crowds and the shooting was limited on opening day.

One place that was crowded were the sand dunes at the north end of Potholes Reservoir. Recent rising water levels allowed hunters to access this area in boats, something they could not do a month ago.

As far as hunter success goes, Chad Eidson, the Manager for the Columbia Basin Wildlife Area, was able to share harvest data from three regulated access areas (RAAs).  At the Winchester Wasteway RAA hunters averaged 2.5 ducks each. At the Frenchman’s Wasteway RAA hunters averaged just under two ducks apiece though the data was incomplete since 10 hunters did not turn in harvest cards. Finally, at the North Potholes RAA, which was heavily affected by drought conditions, seven hunters managed to bag a total of three ducks on opening day.


The walleye bite is very good right now at Potholes Reservoir, that’s the word not only from guide Shelby Ross at Ross Outdoor Adventures, but also from my best friend Rusty Johnston and I, who spent an afternoon trolling for them here last week. We ended up catching nine keepers, all measuring 13 to 14 inches in length, and also caught and released an equal number of bass. We had some success with deep diving crankbaits but the best lures we used (which are also favored by Shelby Ross) was a Mack’s Smile Blade Slow Death Rig or Spindrift Walleye Rig, baited with a nightcrawler and trolled behind a bottom walker weight at a speed of 1.5 MPH. We found the walleye in 18 to 27 feet of water. Try trolling the face of the sand dunes, the mouth of Crab Creek or along O’Sullivan Dam for success.

Nadine West at the Cove Resort at Fish Lake west of Leavenworth said fishing has been great and they are catching lots of nice trout and perch. The perch have been averaging 8 inches and the rainbow trout are going 14 to 16 inches. The best fishing is out of a boat but they are catching both trout and perch off the resort dock too. Boat rentals are available at the resort.


Mark your calendar for November 8, when a total lunar eclipse will take place during the early morning hours. One unique place to view this is at the Goldendale Observatory, which will be open for this event from Midnight to 6 a.m. The cost to attend is free but you do need a Discover Pass (which is available onsite for purchase) to park at this State Park. 

John Kruse – and




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