The desert lakes of the Columbia plateau, which includes most of eastern Washington and eastern Oregon, present a fascinating array of trout fishing opportunity. Typically alkaline and lush, they are enormously fertile at growing plant life, insects, and trout. They also occur in some of the most beautiful and geologically fascinating environments in North America. The vulcanism that produced the plateau by layering basalt flow upon basalt flow until it reached a depth of 2 miles is still evident, not only in the active volcanoes and dormant snow cones of the Cascade range, but as hot springs which provide mineral rich flow into many of the rivers and lakes. Furthermore, situated between the snowfields of the Cascades and Rocky mountain ranges, underground water from snow melt pops out in springs seemingly anywhere in the desert. To further complicate the water flow, the damming of the Columbia, especially Grand Coulee Dam, raised the water table of the northern plateau and suddenly water appeared in basins to form lakes and drainages to form creeks and rivers where water had not flowed for eons.
And then there were the Missoulian Floods which repeatedly swept out of Montana as a 500 foot high wall of water rushing at 100 miles an hour suddenly draining a lake the size of Superior, scarifying the landscape into enormous channels and puddles. I can sit in my easychair in my cabin in The Dalles and look across the Columbia at a waterline, 500 feet above me and the current level of the river, and wonder.
As is true everywhere these days, the best of the fishing is due to protective regulations, otherwise the fast growing and large trout would immediately disappear into coolers and refrigerators and stomachs. The pioneer ethic of fishing and hunting has died slowly here. Washington state led the way with it's "trophy " fishing regulations at the Lenice/Nunnally chain of lakes, Dry falls, and Chopaka. Oregon created a unique Atlantic Salmon fishery in Hosmer Lake and has a begrudgingly few fly fishing only, catch and release lakes or limited take lakes of it's own.
Existing as a watered surprise in the desert, these lakes are an oasis, for everything and anyone with a soul. Here are but a few.
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