Best Places to Fish: Franklin D. Roosevelt Lake, Washington

July 7, 2017

Located in northeastern Washington and named after Franklin D. Roosevelt, Roosevelt Lake is one of the largest lakes in the state of Washington. The lake was formed by the largest concrete structure in the world, the Grand Coulee Dam, primarily for the purpose of power production. A large portion borders the Colville Indian Reservation and tribal management is largely responsible for the natural resources of the area. Because of the geographic area and the uniqueness of Lake Roosevelt, there are diverse public, tribal, and governmental uses as well as multiple management authorities. The Colville Confederated Tribes, Spokane Tribe of Indians, Bonneville Power Administration, National Park Service and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife all share management authority for Roosevelt Lake’s cultural, recreational and natural resources.

Walleye - Franklin D. Roosevelt Lake, Washington

Walleye, rainbow trout and kokanee are the dominant species on this body of water. Walleye make a spring spawning run from deeper main lake areas to shallow rocky shorelines and main tributaries. To protect the excellent walleye fishery in Roosevelt, a closure has been established in the spring on the Spokane, SanPoil and Kettle River arms. A few remaining wild kokanee make a spawning run up the San Poil River in early fall.

Here are some tips for locating and catching fish on Roosevelt Lake:

  • For walleye, jigging is the preferred technique for structure fishing or when fish are stacked up at a certain depth on a piece of structure. Good grub colors on Roosevelt include chartreuse/metal flake, red/black, yellow/white or plain white. Fishing jigs is typically the best way to fish when the water temperatures are coldest because the walleyes are sluggish and you can fish jigs very slowly. However, many very good anglers choose jigging as their go-to technique year-round.

  • Trolling crankbaits on planer boards is another great way to present a lure to walleye suspended along steep shorelines or in mudlines formed by wind or wave action. This mudline pattern can produce catches of nice walleye right until the first cold snaps of the year in October and November.

  • Large numbers of rainbow trout are stocked each year into Lake Roosevelt and are an extremely popular winter fishery. The key to finding concentrations of rainbow trout on Roosevelt is to find the zooplankton. Pay attention to areas of streaky water, as they are probably slicks of zooplankton and rainbows congregate in these areas.

  • Kokanee - Franklin D. Roosevelt Lake, Washington
  • Most kokanee are taken from Roosevelt on small lures or flies trolled behind a dodger or multiple-bladed attractor at a speed of 0.8 to 1.7 knots. Use a trolling speedometer to maintain precise control of your speed, as kokanee are notoriously finicky. When they bite a lure moving at a certain speed, try to match that speed for the rest of the day. Spinners and spoons made by a variety of companies are effective, but Mac Lures Wedding Rings are the most popular lures for “kokes” on the lake.

  • Downriggers and leadcore line are very efficient at keeping your lure at a productive depth in the late summer months. By the middle of September, kokanee are changing colors and getting ready to spawn. When the fish start to change color, the meat starts softening up, becoming effectively inedible. Kokanee run up the rivers and creeks that flow into Roosevelt in October, where all the mature fish die off. Only a few stragglers remain in the lake throughout the winter and may be caught accidentally while trolling for salmon.

For a more detailed lake map and real-time fishing reports follow the Franklin D. Roosevelt Lake waterway page on Fishidy.

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