REGIONALS: West

Walleyes in Wyoming, trout in California, Colorado saugeyes, major crappies along the Snake River in Idaho/Oregon.

Outdoor Life Online Editor

**CALIFORNIA **Last year more than 90 percent of the anglers on Crowley Lake on opening weekend took home five-fish limits. Crowley, which is located in the eastern Sierras 26 miles northwest of Bishop off Highway 395, is known for its productivity and ability to yield large numbers of trout, mostly rainbows and some browns. Heavy stocking augments natural spawning, and hundreds, if not thousands, of trout can be caught in one day. Don't expect to be alone-the lake will see more than 5,000 anglers on a typical opening weekend. Most of the fish caught here are in the one-pound range and measure 12 to 14 inches-perfect for the frying pan. About 10 percent are over two pounds and measure 16 to 22 inches. The general trout season opens April 27 and closes October 31.

Productive fishing areas include Hilton Bay, where boat- and shore-fishing are popular, McGee Bay, where trolling is a good bet, North Landing and Green Banks, which are known for shore-fishing, and the Chalk Cliffs, a top trolling area.

Anglers use PowerBait and worms, toss Mepps spinners and Kastmaster spoons or troll Rapalas and Needlefish. Flyfishermen use midge patterns, nymphs and Woolly Buggers. A resident fishing license is $30.45; nonresidents pay the same for 10 days or $81.65 for the season.

Contact: California Department of Fish and Game (760-872-1171); Bishop Area Chamber of Commerce (760-873-8405); Crowley Lake Fish Camp (760-935-4301). -Gary Kramer

**Colorado **Neenoshe Reservoir in southeastern Colorado is one of the most overlooked spring fisheries in the state, but it delivers for those who know it. Twenty-inch saugeyes are the headliners here, but wipers are going anywhere from 14 to 22 inches, and the lake should produce good numbers of 12- to 13-inch crappies.

Worm-baited jigs catch every fish in the lake. But any shad-imitating crankbait is great here, and guys who fish Road Runner-style jigs do well. A top wiper lure is the blue-backed chrome Rat-L-Trap. Some folks fish nothing but orange Wally Divers. Neenoshe is located 15 miles south of Eads on Highway 287.

Contact: Angler's Choice in Pueblo (719-564-2671); Division of Wildlife in Lamar (719-336-6600). -Ed Riser

Washington The king salmon
Returning to the Columbia River this month could ultimately number about 333,000 fish, an outstanding number which would be the second largest run on record. The Lower Columbia sport-fishery below Bonneville Dam should remain open until May.

Drop anchor on the outgoing tide and fish spinners and plugs behind the boat in water 12 to 30 feet deep. During slack tide, troll herring or sardine-wrapped Kwikfish or Flatfish in silver and chartreuse or gold and red. Bank-fishing just below the dam using Spin-N-Glos is also popular. In the lower tidal-influenced section of river, the best action occurs the hour before, during and after the high and low slack tides. From the I-205 bridge upriver to Bonneville Dam, anglers usually anchor next to the jetties and use pink prawns rigged with beads or small gold blades.

Contact: Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (360-696-6211). -Scott Staats

Utah Savvy trout anglers time their trips to this central Utah lake at ice-out, about mid-April. Get here by taking U.S. Highway 40 east from Provo or Salt Lake City through Heber City. The earliest ice-off fishing is in Mud Bay at the mouth of Indian Creek and the mouth of the Strawberry River. The Soldier Creek side of the lake, to the east, opens a fortnight later than the western bays. Try jigging frozen minnows from float tubes or cast worms and PowerBait from shore. Ply the back bays, where the water is a little bit warmer.

Target cutthroats with frozen minnows or jigging spoons; the rainbows prefer worms fished near the bottom, smaller marabou jigs, olive leech patterns and natural-colored tubeigs.

Contact: Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (435-636-0260). -E.R.

Idaho/Oregon Brownlee Reservoir, the big impoundment of the Snake River between Idaho and Oregon, is the place for a major crappie adventure. Idaho Power, which manages Brownlee Dam, isn't fluctuating water in the lake, and that has made all the difference in terms of crappie numbers and availability. Average fish size is 7 to 10 inches, with good numbers reaching over 12 inches. Fish become active when the water heats to about 55 degrees. On the Oregon side, the Powder River Arm is the first spot crappies start hitting in late March and early April, followed by Tokyo Bay and the rocks on the upper end of Brownlee on the Idaho side. Use 1/16- and 1/32-ounce jigs; red-and-white is consistently the top producer. Fish jigs under a bobber or let them free fall. There is no daily bag or size limit.

An Oregon or Idaho license is good on Brownlee from a boat (on the Powder River Arm an Oregon license is needed); on foot you must have a license from the state in which you're fishing. Shore access on public land is pretty good. Target rocky drop-offs. You'll find good boat launches at Steck Park and at Farewell Bend Campground on the Oregon side of the lake, and at Woodhead Park, farther down the lake on the Idaho side.

Contact: Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (541-963-2138); Idaho Game and Fish (208-334-3700); Idaho Power information line (800- 422-3143). -Gary Kramer and Scott Staats

Alaska
Cook Inlet Kings: In April and May, spawning king salmon move into Cook Inlet before entering fresh water on the Kenai Peninsula. The 15- to 25-pound kings are quick to strike cut-plug herring and spoons behind flashers. Put your boats in at Deep Creek, where tractors are available for hire to negotiate the sometimes difficult beach launch. Contact: Regional office of the Department of Fish and Game (907-262-9368).

Report Harlequins: Harlequin ducks have declined and researchers are looking for answers. Blue or orange plastic leg bands have been placed on harlequins in Prince William Sound. If you see a harlequin with a colored leg band, note location, date, sex, band color and number and report it to Dan Rosenberg with the Department of Fish and Game (907-267-2453; danr@fishgame.state.ak.us).

Moose/Vehicle Collisions Up: Last winter, the number of moose hit by vehicles in the Matanuska Valley went up from an average of 50 animals to more than 100. The increasing human population, and traffic, in this area is resulting in the additional mortality. The moose quota in this region will most likely be reduced for the upcoming 2002 season. Contact: Regional office of the Department of Fish and Game (970-746-6325).

Key Dates
April 4-7: Great Alaskan Sportsmen's Show in Anchorage.
April 15: Start of two-fish-per-day bag limit for rainbow trout/steelhead in Kenai Lake drainages.
April 15: Black bear baiting season opens.

Arizona

Colorado River Largemouths: The Lower Colorado River is often referred to as the "Arizona Everglades." A maze of brush-filled coves, sloughs and hidden lakes, it delivers some of the state's best early season largemouth bass fishing. Plastic worms are a top bet here. One of the largest bass ever landed in Arizona, a 16-pound, 14-ounce largemouth, was caught near Yuma. Contact: Arizona Game and Fish (520-342-0091).

Lake Pleasant White Bass: In April and May look for spawning schools of white bass chasing threadfin shad to the surface. A shad crankbait or spoon tossed into the boiling mass is sure to draw a strike. Lake Pleasant produced a 4-pound, 12-ounce white bass to set the inland waters state record. Contact: Arizona Game and Fish (602-942-3000).

$15,000 Reward: Last fall, three Mexican gray wolves were found dead on the White Mountain Apache Reservation and in Apache County, and the shooter is yet to be found despite months of investigation. The reward for information leading to an arrest now stands at $15,000. Killing a Mexican wolf is a federal offense and can result in a $25,000 fine and six months in jail. Contact: Operation Game Thief (800-352-0700).

Key Dates
April 1: Unlimited trout harvest ends on certain waters.
April 13: Game and Fish Commission sets 2002-2003 big-game seasons.
April 27: Spring turkey season starts in selected units.
California
Fall River Rainbows: Use a small boat and electric motor to access the best areas of the Fall River. Rainbows dominate, with 12- to 16-inchers the average size along with some fish that top 20 inches. Mayfly patterns and small spinners and spoons are productive. Contact: California Department of Fish and Game (530-225-2300).

Lake Almanor Trout: Considered one of California's top fishing lakes, Lake Almanor is prime in spring for brown trout, rainbow trout and landlocked king salmon. Top-line troll Z-rays, Needlefish and Rapalas and target the old stream beds between Last Chance Creek and the North Fork of the Feather River. Contact: Lassen View Resort (530-596-3437).

Tule Elk Comeback: The outlook for this year's tule elk season is as good as ever, with an estimated 300 specific public and private hunt permits to be issued (not statewide)-roughly the same as last year, which is a good sign. This continuity is a testament to three decades of capture and relocation programs. Tule elk now number about 3,700 in California. At the start of the 20th century, there were fewer than 10 statewide.

Key Dates
April 13: Ocean salmon season (Pigeon Point to Point Arena) opens.
April 27: General trout season opens.

** Colorado**
Aurora Reservoir: A chartreuse tube jig will stick crappies, perch, trout and even wipers through the ice of this lake on the flats just east of Denver (ice-out is coming soon). For walleyes, larger wipers and even largemouth bass, work blade baits or jigging spoons around structure. Get here on Quincy Avenue, just 21/2 miles east of Gun Club Road. Contact: Aurora Reservoir Park (303-690-1286); All Pro Fish-N-Sport (303-795-3474).

Cache La Poudre River: Beat the runoff-and the kayakers-and drift Bead-head Prince and Pheasant Tail nymphs for 14-inch brown trout on this river west of Fort Collins. Small parachute-style mayfly dries will take smaller trout and plenty of whitefish. Contact: Jax Outdoor, in Fort Collins (800-336-8314).

2001 Big-Game Harvest Down: After a record-high elk harvest in 2000, last year's success was the worst in a decade, due largely to a balmy fall in the second, third and fourth seasons.ray wolves were found dead on the White Mountain Apache Reservation and in Apache County, and the shooter is yet to be found despite months of investigation. The reward for information leading to an arrest now stands at $15,000. Killing a Mexican wolf is a federal offense and can result in a $25,000 fine and six months in jail. Contact: Operation Game Thief (800-352-0700).

Key Dates
April 1: Unlimited trout harvest ends on certain waters.
April 13: Game and Fish Commission sets 2002-2003 big-game seasons.
April 27: Spring turkey season starts in selected units.
California
Fall River Rainbows: Use a small boat and electric motor to access the best areas of the Fall River. Rainbows dominate, with 12- to 16-inchers the average size along with some fish that top 20 inches. Mayfly patterns and small spinners and spoons are productive. Contact: California Department of Fish and Game (530-225-2300).

Lake Almanor Trout: Considered one of California's top fishing lakes, Lake Almanor is prime in spring for brown trout, rainbow trout and landlocked king salmon. Top-line troll Z-rays, Needlefish and Rapalas and target the old stream beds between Last Chance Creek and the North Fork of the Feather River. Contact: Lassen View Resort (530-596-3437).

Tule Elk Comeback: The outlook for this year's tule elk season is as good as ever, with an estimated 300 specific public and private hunt permits to be issued (not statewide)-roughly the same as last year, which is a good sign. This continuity is a testament to three decades of capture and relocation programs. Tule elk now number about 3,700 in California. At the start of the 20th century, there were fewer than 10 statewide.

Key Dates
April 13: Ocean salmon season (Pigeon Point to Point Arena) opens.
April 27: General trout season opens.

** Colorado**
Aurora Reservoir: A chartreuse tube jig will stick crappies, perch, trout and even wipers through the ice of this lake on the flats just east of Denver (ice-out is coming soon). For walleyes, larger wipers and even largemouth bass, work blade baits or jigging spoons around structure. Get here on Quincy Avenue, just 21/2 miles east of Gun Club Road. Contact: Aurora Reservoir Park (303-690-1286); All Pro Fish-N-Sport (303-795-3474).

Cache La Poudre River: Beat the runoff-and the kayakers-and drift Bead-head Prince and Pheasant Tail nymphs for 14-inch brown trout on this river west of Fort Collins. Small parachute-style mayfly dries will take smaller trout and plenty of whitefish. Contact: Jax Outdoor, in Fort Collins (800-336-8314).

2001 Big-Game Harvest Down: After a record-high elk harvest in 2000, last year's success was the worst in a decade, due largely to a balmy fall in the second, third and fourth seasons.