Angling continues to be good on Dry Falls Lake for 14-inch yearling rainbow trout and carryover fish 16- to 20-plus inches. Brown and tiger trout have also been stocked. Water levels are somewhat low.
Lenice and Nunnally lakes on the Crab Creek Wildlife Area have produced double-digit catches for some fly anglers since they opened March 1. Carryovers from past stocking of triploids are more than 20 inches long.
Year-round Beda Lake, a walk-in water just south of Winchester Wasteway and east of Dodson Road, has recently provided eight to 10 fish per angler, with many 20-plus fish days reported. Almost 2,000 2- to 3-pound rainbow were stocked last fall and winter survival was good. Brown and tiger trout are also available.
Two- to 4-pound Lahontan cutthroat trout are abundant at Lake Lenore with some fish up to 10 pounds. Rocky Ford Creek is especially good with plentiful rainbows running 2- to 10-plus pounds.
Trout and kokanee
Sprague Lake has been easing the angling itch for those waiting for the April 25 lowland lakes opener. A five-fish limit of Sprague rainbow can easily weigh 13 pounds or more. Boat anglers are outfishing bank anglers by a considerable margin.
The majority of Rock Lake trout have been browns recently, and the average size is more than 16 inches. The water is somewhat murky, so lures that make noise have been effective. Flashers and worms are also good under such conditions. The same lures are effective for Liberty Lake browns.
Amber Lake cutthroat and rainbow trout are running 12 to 20 inches. On April 25, Amber switches to a catch-and-keep season under selective-gear rules, but with a daily limit of two trout, minimum size 12 inches, and a requirement to release rainbows with clipped adipose fins.
Medical Lake has been producing brown, rainbow and tiger trout. Medical just received 500 8- to 10-inch rainbows and 2,452 8- to 10-inch brown trout.
Coffeepot Lake, is giving up catches of five to 15 rainbows of 12 to 20 inches per angler. Coffeepot is under selective-gear rules with a daily trout limit of one fish of at least 18 inches.
Rufus Woods is still not up to last year’s speed, though triploid fishing is improving, especially near the net pens where there have been monthly releases.
Roses Lake in the Okanogan remains hot for 11- to 13-inch rainbow. Small Roostertails in black and green are bringing hits when trolled tight to the cattails. Spectacle Lake is providing good catches of 11- to 13-inch rainbows.
Windmill Lake, a seep lake near Potholes Reservoir has been fishing well and a few of the trout are reported to be more than 2 feet long. The good fishing has resulted in large crowds. In the same general area, Canal and Heart lakes are producing well, and Corral and Blythe lakes, which were rehabilitated two years ago, are at their peaks.
Koocanusa kokanee have been on the bite for a couple of weeks, said Randi Burch at Koocanusa Resort and Marina. Most of the fish are small, 6-8 inches. The rainbow bite is still slow, though a fair number of bull trout have been caught and released. Catch-and- keep for bull trout begins June 1.
Steelhead and salmon
The spring chinook season opens April 25 on Idaho’s Clearwater, lower Salmon and Snake. With only 1,000 or so fish over Bonneville to date, the first week will probably be slow.
With the clock running down on the scheduled season, spring chinook fishing has remained erratic on the mainstem Columbia. Catch rates have been up one week, down the next. The number of spring chinook counted at Bonneville Dam through Monday was about one-fifth of the count last year at the same time.
“Fishing was fairly good during the past week in the estuary and just below Bonneville Dam, but slower everywhere in between,” said Joe Hymer, a WDFW fish biologist. “Water levels have come up in the past week or so, which should benefit bank anglers. But, overall, it’s been hard to draw a bead on this year’s fishery.”
Anglers are making the transition from winter steelhead to hatchery spring chinook on the north coast, where steelhead fishing on area rivers will wrap up April 30 (the Hoh River closed Wednesday).
“Hatchery spring chinook are starting to enter the system and the run should keep building on the Sol Duc and Quillayute rivers through mid-June,” said Mike Gross, WDFW fish biologist.
Lake Chelan chinook fishing opened Wednesday except within 400 feet of the mouth of tributaries. Minimum size is 15 inches. Mackinaw anglers have been catching quite a few chinook this spring.
Banks Lake largemouth aren’t doing much because of the cold water, but the smallmouth bite is picking up steam. The best action comes from shallow water.
The walleye bite has been slow to develop on the Columbia around Pateros. A few large fish have been reported, but action has been sporadic. On Lake Roosevelt, jiggers are taking quite a few smaller fish.
The Okanogan River is beginning to give up a few smallmouth and bass fishing in the lower Yakima River is also improving. Smallmouth bass typically migrate into the Yakima River in large numbers each spring to spawn. WDFW maintains access sites at Snively, Hyde and Duportail roads.
Boat anglers fishing the Bonneville Pool have been averaging a dozen bass and a walleye per rod. Fishing for both species is also heating up in The Dalles and John Day pools.
The Pend Oreille River pike fishery is slow to develop this year because of cold, low water. Action should pick up when the water rises and gives the fish access to their preferred spawning grounds. Coeur d’Alene pike are in the bays and feeding aggressively.
Sturgeon anglers below Lower Granite Dam last Friday have been hooking good numbers of fish using smelt, which is best fished with the tails removed and the hook inserted just above the cut. The Central Ferry area has also been good for a few sturgeon recently. Anglers in marine areas 1-4 are catching daily limits of lingcod. Fishing seasons for the hard-fighting fish will also open May 1 in marine areas 5-11 and 13. The halibut season starts Thursday in marine areas 6-11 and 13, followed by additional openings in May on the coast and the western Strait of Juan de Fuca.
A three-day razor clam dig has tentatively been scheduled April 25-27 at four ocean beaches, provided that marine toxin tests show the clams are safe to eat. The Puget Sound shrimp season opens May 2. Information on shrimp seasons and rules is available on the WDFW shellfish hotline at 1-866-880-5431.
Wednesday’s turkey openers in Washington and Idaho brought the usual mixed reports. Indications are the birds have finally dispersed, and despite some winter kill, populations are strong. There seemed to be much less gobbling and fewer gunshots heard this year than on past openers.
Applications for Idaho moose, sheep and goat controlled hunts will be accepted through April 30. Hunters may apply at Fish and Game offices, license vendors and with a credit card by telephone or over the Internet. Telephone applications may be made at 1-800-554-8685. Internet users may apply at www.fishandgame .idaho.gov/.
Most recent column
The curtain has opened on the last act in the Columbia River system’s “Year of the Salmon.” The performance began with good returns of spring chinook followed by this summer’s post-dams record returns of sockeye and a great showing of coho. Now the big stars …
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