The arid desert landscape of eastern Washington sits in stark contrast with the moist coastal areas. The region is composed of large valleys, brush-laden hills and vineyards. Although the precipitation is a small fraction of the western part of the state, numerous lakes, rivers and streams provide ample fishing opportunities. The Snake River is the most popular fishery in the eastern part of the state, but there are many waters commonly overlooked by local and visiting fly fisherman.
The Snake River is one of the most popular fisheries in eastern Washington. Hells Canyon straddles the Washington-Idaho border and offers fly fisherman the opportunity to catch steelhead, salmon, sturgeon, bass and trout.
Hells Canyon can be accessed from Clarkston, Washington, but a boat is necessary to reach the best fishing. Numerous guides can be found in Clarkston, and fly fisherman can do multiple day tours or combine fishing trips with bird hunting for waterfowl and upland game.
The Grande Ronde River runs through the southeast region of Washington before it joins the Snake River. The lower portions of the river are known for the excellent steelhead runs, and the upper river is home to a population of trout and smallmouth bass.
The best method of fishing the upper river is from a raft or drift boat. A large portion of the river runs through remote canyons that are difficult to access on foot, and a boat allows you to pick and choose from the best water. The difficult access also means you will not encounter many other anglers on the upper river.
Eastern Washington has lakes in every county for fly fisherman to explore. Spokane and Pend Oreille counties have numerous lakes with public access. Most of the lakes can be fished from a float tube or pontoon boat.
Lake fly fisherman in eastern Washington should be prepared to catch trout, pike, bass and bluegill. The variety in species is ideal for fishing from ice-out through the late fall season. Washington Lakes.com is a valuable resource and provides fly fisherman with reports, lake maps and fishing information for all of the public lakes in the state.
Rules and Regulations
Fisherman are required to obtain a fishing license before dropping a line in the water. Fishing licenses can be purchased by the day or for the entire season for resident and non-resident anglers. The regulations are subject to change each year, and you must consult the current year pamphlet that can be found on the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife website. The pamphlet will guide you through the various fisheries and species and provides information about limits and fisheries with special regulations.