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Landers: Weather attacks vulnerable chicks

We have a lot to cover today, fishing instruction for adults, Turnbull elk hunting and the Sprague Lake Trout Derby.

But first, let’s bow heads in a moment of silence for the carnage this week’s cold, wet weather is wreaking on the peak of the first hatch of pheasants and other ground-based gamebirds …

Chicks are vulnerable to hypothermia, and we’ve been looking out our windows at something close to the worst-case scenario. While you’re praying, ask for better conditions for the second hatch the birds try to produce when their first broods fail.

Sprague Trout Derby: A prize totaling $500 awaits the angler who catches the biggest trout Saturday during the first Sprague Lake Trout Derby.

Fishermen have boated huge rainbows out of the 1,840-acre lake since it was rehabilitated in 2007. The derby gives them a chance to cash in on their luck.

It’s scheduled for Washington’s Free Fishing Weekend, so no fishing license is required.

Fuel up for $5 at the Fishermen’s Breakfast, which will open at 5 a.m. Saturday, sponsored by the Sprague Volunteer Fire Department.

Bonus: Nine rainbows were tagged and released in Sprague Lake in March as part of Cabela’s “Wanna Catch a Million” fishing contest. Most of the largemouth bass state biologists caught while electroshocking to capture the fish for tagging were in the no-kill slot size. So they chose to put all the tags allotted for Sprague Lake into rainbows.

All Sprague Lake Trout Derby participants will be eligible for prize drawings, and kids especially will have a chance to win fishing rods, co-organizer Dave Broxson said.

The angler with the second-largest fish caught between 6 a.m. and the 6 p.m. weigh-in will win $100 in gift cards and merchandise provided by Cabela’s and Wholesale Sports.

Third place gets goodies totaling $50.

Tickets will be available the day of the derby at the two resorts on the lake:

Four Seasons Campground Resort, (509) 257-2332, on the northwest end of the lake.

Sprague Lake Resort, (509) 259-7060, at the east end of the lake just outside the town of Sprague.

Elk raffle tags: Unfortunately, there was an error in my recent column about elk raffle tags for the Columbia Plateau Wildlife Management Area surrounding Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge.

While the mistake was corrected, the problem was compounded by an uncorrected version that continued to circulate on the web.

Bottom line: The Washington Fish and Wildlife Department took about half of the Columbia Plateau tags and put them up in the special hunts drawing (applications ended May 18). 

The Columbia Plateau group is offering roughly the other half of the allotted tags (including two bull tags, not one as indicated in the pamphlet) in a raffle with tags being sold to Sept. 30.

The main points still hold. Even though the state special permits application period has passed, the raffle tickets still offer a shot at hunting elk on the private lands outside of Turnbull.

And don’t forget, the Columbia Plateau WMA is taking applications for free-access general season hunting on the group’s private lands up to June 20. A lottery drawing will follow.

 Info: or (509) 263-4616.

Fishing clinic canceled : A Fishing 101 Class for Adults, scheduled for this week’s Free Fishing Weekend has been canceled for lack of participants.

The Washington Fish and Wildlife Department and Inland Northwest Wildlife Council volunteers have been planning the event for months. Based on the clinic’s successful debut last year, they added an evening session to the class to get the adult students up to speed on the gear and techniques they’d be using before they showed up for the field session on Williams Lake.

The event was timed for Free Fishing Weekend so no fishing license would be required, but a modest $10 fee was added this year to cover costs.

Fishing is a sport that tends to require a mentor. If you grow up in a family on non-anglers, your chances of learning the sport are low. It’s not taught in grade school phys ed classes.

If nobody’s taken you out by the time you’re an adult, learning to fish seems as exotic as skin diving for pearl oysters.

I know one volunteer who’s been stockpiling fish of various species in his freezer for weeks. He’s been gearing up to teach his hands-on session on preparing, cooking (and eating) fish. That alone should have filled the class.

Is it a matter of people being too busy to devote two days to learning how to fish, or is it the measly 10 bucks that’s keeping people from signing up?

Either way, I applaud the volunteers who offered their time, gear, boats and expertise, and I feel sad for non-anglers who missed out on this activity.

John Whalen, WDFW regional fisheries manager, said the organizers will regroup and try to improve their approach for another adult clinic down the line.

In the meantime, I know a friend who has a nice mess of fish in his freezer. I’m going to offer to bring the salad and beer!

Contact Rich Landers at (509) 459-5508 or email

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