Saturday, December 10, 2016

Banks Lake Drawdown

Joe Heater, the last to launch at Banks Lake

Well, it’s started and it won’t be long before most all Launches will be high and dry. The drawdown started August 1st and will continue till Halloween where it is estimated that the lake should be 30 feet below full pool. Banks lake full pool elevation is 1570′, and the only boat ramp that will be accessible after the lake is drawn down will be at Coulee Playland Resort.  Four wheel drive is recommended for launching as the approach to the ramp is gravel, and muddy depending on conditions.


The last time the lake was drawn down was in 1993/1994 for maintenance projects. This year’s maintenance is expected to start in October and finish up some time early spring in 2012. The lake should fill back up sometime shortly after all repairs have been made. The plan is to have the lake back at full pool by April 2012.

There will be some tricky spots on the lake to navigate, but use good judgment. From Steamboat to the north end of the lake boaters might want to take it slow, and be very careful to avoid chewing up a prop, or your lower unit. South of Goose Island to the south end of the lake be careful of the submerged shoals and sunken islands.

Effects on Walleye

I exchanged emails with Bruce Bolding, Director of the Warmwater Program with the WDFW, I asked Bruce about the possible long term effects of the drawdown on the walleye. Bruce was quick to say that from a biological standpoint that it is difficult know what kind of long term effect this drawdown will have on the walleye.  He did say that obviously the fish will be concentrated in less water and is near impossible to determine the effect on fish life or spawning activities. Fortunately, the water level should be back to full pull by the start of the spawn next year.

One thing Bruce pointed out was “entrainment” could be an issue. Fish that might get stranded in pools of water as the water draws down. This is also very difficult to quantify but they will be keeping an eye on it.  Bolding also pointed out that almost 1 million fish (all species) entrain each year at the Dry Falls Dam and they will continue this study to find ways to reduce this number in both systems.

The WDFW will be conducting creel studies to help manage the fishery for the future, not necessarly for the impact of the drawdown but collecting data for analysis. In addition to the creel studies, the WDFW will be monitoring the water quality and water chemistry of the lake. One thing Bolding said was that they will keep a close eye on the entrainment to identify possible trouble locations.


The fishing should continue to be the same as normal water conditions; however as the water draws down fish should become more concentrated (pretty obvious for most people) but Banks lake drawn down is still a big ass lake. As structure forage fish use to hide becomes high and dry, look for possible suspended fishing opportunities. Forage fish and walleye will start to concentrate in the in the water column and could present a suspended bite. 

As the water drains, find weed lines or any other structure that bait will use to hide in. This drawdown will make for some dynamic fishing. The saying “should have been here yesterday” will be muttered more than once during the drawdown. These fish will probably be moving a lot as the water continues to drop. Be active, search for new areas and don’t get stuck fishing spots that produced yesterday if you can’t get bit.

Here is a link to the Coulee Playland resort for some helpful info on the drawdown. Good luck fishing!



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