2013 Tripl e Fish Chal leng e
u.S. postage paid Coulee dam Wa 99116 permit #12 eCrWSS postal patron
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Year-round fishing is too big a secret by Scott Hunter, publisher
couple weeks from now, the state will be teaming with eager anglers getting out on their boats and shorelines with the official statewide opening of fishing season. But what you may not realize is that anglers around here fish all year long. Banks Lake, Lake Roosevelt behind Grand Coulee Dam and Lake Rufus Woods below it (and behind Chief Joseph Dam) are all fisheries open for business all year. The Grand Coulee Dam Area Chamber of Commerce thought offering a tournament on Banks Lake at the beginning of April would be a great, fun way to highlight that fact and to encourage more anglers to visit our area early and late in the year. The chamber, which has organized this event, welcomes you to its first Are You Tough Enough — Triple Fish Challenge. And welcome to an area of Washington state where you’ll find several good restaurants to choose from and plenty of fine lodging. Naturally, we’d like you to come back. So check out plenty of things to do and more area fishing tips in this special section. You can continue to check out our visitor website for up-to-date info throughout the year at gcdvisitor.com Good fishing, and may the toughest angler win!
Local volunteers work hard to raise rainbows and silvers at the POWER goup’s net pens on Banks Lake in Electric City.
Good Luck Fishermen! We will be open at 6 a.m. Saturday & Sunday Serving Biscuits & Gravy, Cinnamon and Orange Rolls, Coffee, Cocoa We also have Hard Ice Cream • Large Tackle Shop • State & Tribal Licenses • Marine Supplies • Tee Shirts & Sweat Shirts • Beverages • Snacks • Tent or RV Camping The area’s only non-ethanol fuel
On Banks Lake • 633-2671 • couleeplayland.com
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Tips for the Triple Fish Challenge Fishing Banks Lake in early spring By Louis Nevsimal
arly April can be quite unpredictable year to year; sometimes just launching a boat can be problematic, if not impossible, at this time of year. To nail down what fishing will be like during the Triple Fish Challenge tournament would take a crystal ball and a stack of tarot cards to predict. But, there are factors that remain somewhat stable year to year. So, with an increased interest in early spring fishing, here are some ideas to knock around this spring. Fish, of all types, eat all year! That said, one needs to take into account that not all fish are built the same and there are seasonal driving issues all fish need to address. There are many factors that affect fish activity and movement. Ice, no ice. Cold or warm weather and water. Wind or calm. Stable or unpredictable weather. Regardless, spring leads to the spawn for most fish species. To prepare to make babies, all fish species must pick up the pace in April by starting to move out their wintering zones and EAT! It takes a lot of calories to make eggs, and food is at its lowest point of the year, so what does a fish do? Let’s see if we can nail that down for the three species we’re looking for this weekend: rainbow trout, walleye and smallmouth bass.
Trout remain the most active of these three species through the winter and are often the easiest fish to catch in the winter months. Coldwater fish by nature, they feed on a wide array of insects, fish, crustaceans, even amphibians and terrestrials, but early spring limits what is available. There are some early insect hatches, but these are often small in scope. Amphibians TIP: Many big Trout are and crustaceans caught by Bass anglers castmay approach total ing crank bait/jerk bait where immobility and are hard no boat could troll over shalto find, so what’s left? low boulder fields. Minnows! Last year’s young of the year are still tidbit size, so never pass up trolling or casting baits that resemble small fish. Also, because nature never puts all her eggs in one basket, late spawn rainbow often feed on the eggs of the earlier spawners. Eggs, power bait and marshmallows may fool these egg eaters. And let’s not forget worms! I’ve never seen masses of worms swimming about, but still most fish can’t resist. Keep in mind, many trout spawn in March and April, so think shallow, hard bottom areas with gravel, sand, even pavement. Also keep in mind that over deep water trout are most likely to be high up in the column. The surface layer still warms faster and light penetration activates zooplankton, attracting small bait fish of many species. In April, the top 15 feet of the lake is the place to look for rainbow trout.
After spending winter in the deep basins of the lake, walleye must also now make a move shallower (shallower is a TIP: Some walleye suspend relative term as 40 feet is over deep water, feeding on shallower than 70 feet). bait; others may move very Increasing need for calories for egg production drives shallow following spawning increased activity and food perch and suckers. Trolling is limited. Just like for the minnow plugs or swim baits trout, last year’s young may may trigger big bites. be the most available prey. Keep in mind, the lake temperature for the most part does not limit vertical movement in April. There are some species that spawn early and shallow that walleye may target (specifically perch and suckers). As March (ice-out) leads to April, look in 30-60 feet for walleye. Vertical jigging and dropshotting will work. As temperatures rise, trolling bottom crawlers will pick up.
Furthest out from entering the spawn post ice-out, smallmouth bass also depart main basin wintering areas in April. TIP: Cover water with Often scattering like leaves, reaction baits, jerk baits many may forage shallow (hard or soft), cranks and right after ice-out. Minnows rattle baits. Move fast, make up much of their diet point to point, fish slow. now, so crank baits, jerk baits, swim baits, even grubs are good choices. Some crawdads may break out in warmer pocket water areas so jigs apply here. Although some fish move way up, many remain 15-30 feet deep at this time of year and are often suspended, so vertical jigging or count-down baits are not out of the question. Spring offers its challenges. Be ready to change tactics, areas and depths to locate fish. Keep in mind, all fish eat all year. Make it easy for them to “catch your bait.”
All about the area … Online!
After a hard day of fishing Come in for Breakfast Lunch or Dinner Cool Drinks & Great Coffee
Visit gcdvisitor.com for all the information you need to visit the Grand Coulee Dam area. For local news, see grandcoulee.com
on the Midway, Grand Coulee • 633-8283
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Plan’s map includes fish details
n 2001 the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation published its Banks Lake Resource Management Plan, which included maps with layers of information about the area. The plan was “developed … in response to the growing demand for recreational opportunities and visitor facilities while balancing resource protection and conservation objectives.”
his map includes information about where specific species of fish tend to spawn in the reservoir. The map on this page comprises the maps on two separate pages of the published plan, and the overlap of the two maps is not precise, one half having been printed at different scale in the 2001 plan and both halves resized to fit this page. Knowing where fish tend to spawn won’t tell you where they are this week, but it can give a good angler valuable clues for some good fishing.
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Bass fishing on Banks Lake.
Are You Tough Enough Triple Fish Challenge! April 6 & 7 at 9 a.m. Coulee Playland Resort
Two Age Classes (youth and adult)
Three fish species - weigh largest smallmouith bass, walleye and rainbow trout each day. Total combined weight for 2-days wins the GRAND PRIZE Achilles Inflatable Boat & Yamaha Outboard Motor! Prizes also awarded for: • Big Fish in each species each day• Total stringer weight each day • Total combined weight for the 2-day tournament
Grand Coulee Dam Area Chamber of Commerce On-Site Registration Fri., April 5, 5-7 p.m. and continue during boat inspection Sat., April 6, 6-8 a.m. Drivers’ meeting is 8 a.m. Saturday. For more information contact the chamber office at 633-3074
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Welcome to the Banks Lake bass factory By Dave Graybill
here are plenty of great fishing opportunities in Central Washington, but not many consistently provide the level of surefire action than Banks Lake for smallmouth bass. There was a period of time that a friend and I fished Banks Lake in May 10 years in a row. We always fished the same basic area, and we always had smallmouth fishing that bordered on the fantastic. Whether you’re an expert or a beginner, you can count on the smallmouth at Banks Lake to keep you busy all day long. Banks Lake is 27 miles long and offers over 90 miles of shoreline. In the month of May, smallmouth show up like clockwork in the area known as Barker Flats. The “Flats” warm up early in the spring and smallmouth gather in numbers for their annual spawning rituals, and anglers can find aggressive fish in attractive water that covers acres at the upper end of the lake. Banks Lake is the first irrigation impoundment that is filled from the water backed up behind Grand Coulee Dam. Water is pumped up over the hill to meet the needs of farmers further down the line. As the cooler water of Lake Roosevelt is delivered to Banks Lake, the spawning period here can last months, rather than weeks, like other lakes in the region. The south end of Banks Lake also has some excellent shallow areas. There are areas where flat, basalt islands show above the water line and smallmouth can be found in that part of the lake, too. It takes some time to learn to navigate this region of the lake, due to the structure that is not always obvious to boaters. The north end and Barker Flats is where most anglers choose to start their bass fishing season on Banks. Bill Lemke, one of the guys that I go to for bass fishing information in the region, agrees that Barker Flats is the place to go for smallmouth action in the month of May. “Banks Lake is just a bass factory,” he says. “The lake isn’t known for lots of big fish, but it is a good one for big numbers. Barker Flats is a great place to find lots of smallmouth in May, and this is the time to get big, pre-spawn females. I like to start with finesse-style plastics early.
You can cast worms and pencil are wondering which crank baits baits just about anywhere in the to put in your box for a trip to 7- to 9-foot depth and run into Banks, be sure to have a selection fish on the flats. When the water of these patterns along. Although smallmouth bass are warms up to about 50 degrees, that’s when the crank bait action dominant on Banks, largemouth have made strong come back in kicks into gear.” Lemke goes on to say that Banks recent years, and they can be found Lake is his favorite destination in the spring here, too. There are when taking anglers along that some nice largemouth being taken don’t get the opportunity to fish from Banks Lake again, but you for bass very often. There are won’t find them very often on the flats,” he said. just so many “You’ll have smallmouth in the lake that “You’ll have better luck better luck for even rookies are for largemouth if you fish largemouth if you fish the guaranteed a the edges and the weed edges and the good time. lines.” weed lines.” I have to agree with Lemke on this one. My Smallmouth are so plentiful on daughter visited me last year and there was no doubt about Banks Lake that smaller fish will where I was going to take her. She far outnumber the big fish in a had such a great time catching day’s fishing. Experts like Lemke smallmouth on Banks Lake that will take more 2- to 4-pound fish when she returned for another than most, but if an angler puts in visit later in the summer she just the time they should expect to get had to go back! The fishing was one or two smallmouth weighing just as good later in the season. 2, 3 or 4 pounds for their efforts. She’s a big fan of Banks. We fished Reviewing the results of the many a lot of watermelon lizards last bass tournaments that are held on year, and caught and released 30 Banks, I see that the angler that to 50 smallmouth per day. This takes a largemouth in the 4- to is not unusual at all, even for 5-pound class is often the winner of the big fish award. intermediate-level anglers. Banks Lake is big water and On my 10-year run to Barker Flats in May, I was introduced it can handle big numbers of to one particular lure. My buddy anglers. There are plenty of places said all I needed to bring along for them to stay and to find what was a few Rattle Raps. The size they need for a weekend on the didn’t seem to matter, but the water. At the north end, in Electric best colors were the gold and the City, is Coulee Playland Resort, crawdad pattern. We would float around on the flats and cast these the major sponsor of this week’s lures any direction and catch fish Triple Fish Challenge. This is the after fish. Banks Lake is loaded traditional hosting campground with crawdads and perch. If you f o r t h e a n n u a l S t a t e B a s s Jamboree, so it can handle big
We’ve got the supplies you need for your day of fishing! • Chips • Candy • Deli Sandwiches • Cold Beverages • Ice
crowds of bass anglers. It has lots of room for campers, including showers, and a large tackle shop. There is also a gas pump right at the ramp. To reserve a camping space and to get current fishing information, call 509-633-2671, and ask for Dave Altier. You can also log onto www.couleeplayland. com for information, too. It is a short distance from here to the town of Grand Coulee that offers a large Safeway grocery store, and a number of good restaurants. At the south end of the lake, near Coulee City is Big Wally’s. This is a great place to find all the supplies active anglers will need. There’s fuel, a wellstocked convenience store. Liquor store, restaurant and tackle shop. Anglers can learn more about Big Wally’s by logging onto www. bigwallysfishing.com. There are also excellent State Parks facilities on Banks Lake. One is at the foot of Steamboat Rock, which is the dominant landmark on the lake. The park has 26 tent spaces, 100 utility spaces, one dump station, five restrooms (four ADA) and six showers (four ADA). The park also has 12 primitive boat-in campsites with vault toilets and water. Utility sites have full hookups. Maximum site length is 50 feet (may have limited availability). Tents must be placed within the designated tent pad. There are 44 primitive campsites with vault toilets at Jones Bay (no water available), 36 primitive campsites with vault toilets at Osborn Bay (no water available) and 12 boatin campsites (with water) north Continued page 8
Your Senses… • Authentic Mexican Food • Margaritas • Daquiries • Beer & Wine
• Daily Specials • Banquet Room • Catering • Take-Out Orders Open Monday thru Saturday 11 a.m. - 9 p.m.
515 E. Grand Coulee Ave., Grand Coulee ORDERS TO GO - Call 509-633-3173 Also - 13308 W. Sunset Highway, Airway Heights • (509) 244-7001
We Now Offer FREE WIRELESS INTERNET!
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SUMMER HOURS! Starting March 23, 2013
Coulee Dam Casino will be open 10am - 4am
All Summer Long! Coulee Dam Casino ~ 515 Birch Street, Coulee Dam, WA ~ 800-556-7492
Star 3x9 New Hours7.442x9.631.indd 1
3/18/2013 12:10:04 PM
8 - Triple Fish Challenge 2013 Continued... of the main campground launch (these sites are not reservable). All primitive sites are first-come first-serve. Northrup Point water access is available 24 hours a day. Year-round reservations for individual campsites are available for Steamboat Rock State Park, call (888) CAMPOUT or (888) 226-7688. Also, at the south end there is the Coulee City Marina, just three blocks from the town of Coulee City and a large campground. There are 55 full RV hook ups here and 100 campsites. There are restrooms and a boat launch. To get more information, call 509-632-5331. There are several boat launches on Banks Lake. Aside from the ones at the campgrounds and state parks, there is a rough launch at the Million Dollar Mile and one at mid-way up the lake. There are also launches at Jones Bay and Osborne Bay. Anglers that want to visit Banks can reach the lake via Highway 2 traveling both east and west across the state. I like to take Highway 28 from
The fishing is always good on Banks Lake.
Wenatchee and then go north on Highway 17 at Soap Lake. Those traveling from the east can find the route north to Highway 17 just before reaching the Town of Moses Lake on I-90. When spring arrives in
Central Washington, there is nothing more exciting than knowing that the smallmouth will be arriving to the flats at Banks Lake. To count on the fact that there will be big numbers of smallmouth there to greet you
and the possibility of the biggest fish of the year make for restless nights prior to a fishing trip here. My bass fishing season really begins here, at Barker Flats, and I always know itâ€™s going to be a great day.