15 Dec Recreational Fishing in Grant County Made Possible by the Project
By: Chad Jackson - Region 2 Fish Program manager, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
Recreational fishing is a popular activity in Washington State, infusing millions of dollars into local economies and positively contributing to the quality of life of resident anglers. Many anglers prefer fishing in Washington’s lowland lakes including those within Grant County. The basalt landscape of Grant County was carved and gouged by the Lake Missoula floods creating large coulees and potholes, redistributing substrates, and depositing fertile glacial soils. The dominate habitat type was shrub-steppe composed mostly of sagebrush, rabbit brush, and bunchgrasses. While some natural lakes existed (e.g., Park, Blue, Moses, etc.), initially, there was very little surface water within Grant County. Even lower Crab Creek flowed seasonally drying up in the summer and fall months.
Grant County’s landscaped was forever changed with the introduction of the Columbia Basin Project (Project) in the late 1940s. The Project is the largest water reclamation project in the United States. Irrigation water is diverted from Lake Roosevelt into storage reservoirs (e.g., Banks and Billy Clapp) and then supplied through a vast system of canals to farmers from Odessa south to Pasco. One of the unintended benefits of the Project was the creation of numerous lakes and ponds throughout Grant County through seepage, irrigation returns, and/or elevated water tables. These lakes and ponds have offered recreational fishing opportunities for decades. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) stocks hundreds of thousands of trout in several of these lakes and ponds annually. Some of these waters also offer fishing opportunities for naturally self-sustaining populations of bass, walleye, and panfish. Many of these waters are destination fisheries visited by out-of-county and non-resident anglers.
The WDFW offers a number of helpful resources to anglers wanting to fish the lakes, ponds, and reservoirs within Grant County. The first
resource is our lowland lake fishing locator on the WDFW website (https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/locations/lowland-lakes). Anglers can search this database by county or target fish species. Each lake has its own landing page with useful information such as fish species you might catch, lake size, and locations of access sites. Another resource for anglers is WDFW’s statewide hatchery trout and kokanee stocking plan(https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/reports/stocking/statewide). This plan details which lakes are stocked in a given year and with what species and how many of them. Anglers will need to know what the fishing regulations are for a particular lake, pond, or reservoir. Fishing regulations can be found in print at most sporting goods stores, on WDFW’s webpage (https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations), or by downloading our Fish Washington mobile app, which is very popular. Lastly, anglers are always welcome to call the regional office in Ephrata to speak with one of our very knowledgeable customer service staff or the local fish biologist to answer any questions.