When I think about where to go for ice fishing, my mind gravitates to the frozen lakes of northern New Hampshire and the Upper Midwest like Minnesota and Wisconsin. But for those living in the Pacific Northwest, there’s another place closer to home–Okanogan County in northcentral Washington.
The winter weather is cold enough in this county east of the Cascade Mountains to provide a thick layer of ice safe enough to drill a hole, pull up a chair, and cast a line. Enjoy the beautiful scenery while waiting for a rainbow trout, bluegill, crappie, smallmouth bass, or perch to grab the bait.
For suggestions on places to fish, check out the 11 lakes lised on the “Winter Fishing” page on the Okanogan County Tourism Council’s website. The council also published an article in the Seattle Times with tips on how to prepare for your trip and make the most of your experience.
Two of the most important things to remember: Always double-check the ice to make sure it’s safe before you venture out on it, and never lay your reel on the ice, because it will freeze.
If you enjoy open-water winter fishing, there are plenty of opportunities on the Upper Columbia, Methow, and Okanogan Rivers. Before you go, take a look at the current rules and regulations on the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife’s website.