West Coast Hot Spots

Lake Rufus Woods

Rainbow trout, walleye, kokanee salmon, smallmouth bass

State-record rainbows are caught with regularity in this 51-mile-long Columbia River reservoir behind Chief Joseph Dam. The reasons, however, aren't entirely natural.

Fishing in Lake Rufus Woods is enhanced by a commercial net-pen operation about 16 miles downstream from Grand Coulee Dam. Genetically altered (triploid) rainbows are raised for market here, but thousands of the sterile fish, which grow to sumo wrestler proportions, are released for anglers. Walleye fishing can be good along the eddy lines when water is being released from Grand Coulee. Otherwise, troll spinners to search for them in midriver depressions as deep as 60 feet.

Sweet Spot: The buoy line above Chief Joseph Dam, good for both rainbows and kokanees
What's Hot: PowerBait enhanced with nightcrawlers fished off the bottom for big rainbows
Local Advice: "You can tell when somebody's new here because they'll keep the first 5-pounder they catch," says one local. "We break those little ones off."
Prime Time: January and February for rainbows
Record Fish: 29.6-pound rainbow caught by Norm Butler of Okanogan, Washington, one of two state-record rainbows caught here in 2002
More Info: Grand Coulee Dam Area Chamber of Commerce, 800-268-5332; www.grandcouleedam.org