Basin Lakes, WA

The Lenice chain of lakes (also Merry, Bobby, Nunnally) is located in a small desert canyon about six miles east of Beverly, a small community across the Columbia River from Vantage.

A bug factory, this chain of lakes produces large rainbows and browns and also tigers, a brown and brook trout hybrid that is a recent addition. Lenice is the most popular lake, partly because the walk from the roadside parking lot is the shortest of many trails to the lakes. Don't limit yourself just to Lenice.

You can catch fish without a float tube or pontoon boat, but most people wouldn't consider going here without something they can either strap on their back or roll along the desert paths.

The March 1 opener makes these lakes a popular early option for big trout lovers with cabin fever. It's also a great location when the waters cool down in October. Look for an average length of 18 inches and many fish up to 24 inches or so. Sunfish are always a problem, so these lakes get poisoned and restocked with trout every seven years or so, meaning some years are better than others. Key fly: Spring, size 14 black chironomid or blood worm. Fall, size 14 immature damsel.