A Tony’s Special fly has been effective recently for enticing large Rufus Woods rainbow. Anglers say they are seeing numerous 8-plus-pound fish cruising the shallows.
Salmon and steelhead
“Skipper” Bill Bongers and Frank Whitney fished Lake Coeur d’Alene two days last week, boating 10 small chinook. This bodes well for the Gene Fink Memorial Winter Derby, Saturday and Sunday. Derby tickets are still available at Skipper Bill’s in the Spokane Valley and Fins and Feathers in Coeur d’Alene.
Snake River steelheading is still good up to the mouth of the Salmon River, with anglers averaging a fish caught every six hours. Eggs are becoming increasingly popular. The Salmon has been good, but the Clearwater has been slow. Visibility on the Grande Ronde is 8 feet, so lighter lines are a must and fishing is tough.
At Lyons Ferry KOA, Jim MacArthur said steelheading on that part of the Snake has been decent. Bank anglers throwing a bobber and shrimp usually manage at least one fish a day. Facilities at the marina are open Wednesday through Sunday.
A record 30,000 steelhead passed over Rocky Reach Dam last week, a near guarantee that excellent steelhead fishing is ahead on the upper Columbia. Steelhead anglers on the upper Columbia are having luck drifting purple shrimp on one-fourth-ounce Rock Dancer jigs under a slip bobber from 3-15 feet deep.
At the Triangle Shell in Brewster, Bob Fately said the Brewster and Pateros area is still good for steelhead. The Methow is decent, though it has slowed down from the phenomenal November bite. Fately recommends pulling plugs if there is not much current and throwing jigs and shrimp under a bobber if there is. Favorite plugs are small Wiggle Warts, Fat Fish, or U-2 Flatfish in oranges and reds.
Licenses for the 2010 license year (April 2010-March 2011) are available. The Washington State Legislature passed into law the requirement that beginning April 1, anyone 15 or older wishing to fish for salmon or steelhead on the Columbia River or its tributaries must have a Columbia River salmon and steelhead endorsement in addition to their fishing license. The cost of the endorsement is $8 and can be purchased at a license dealer or online (fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov). The endorsement is good for the license year. Revenue will be dedicated to supporting salmon and steelhead fisheries in those areas.
Trout and kokanee
Anglers can practically count on catching a limit of 13- to 15-inch rainbow by fishing shallow anywhere on Lake Roosevelt, and trollers report numerous break-offs by obviously larger fish. Bank anglers are getting in on the action. Anglers fishing with walleye gear are catching trout on spinners and Rapalas.
Rock Lake has been excellent for browns near shore, though they are reported to be a bit on the skinny side. Deeper water has yielded rainbow from 17 inches up. Rock Lake water levels are up and launching is easier than it was this fall.
Hatch and Williams lakes in the Colville area opened for the winter season last Tuesday. Regional fish biologist Bill Baker said limits of 9- to 12-inch rainbow were the rule at Williams. Hatch Lake was a little tougher, but most anglers got four or five trout between 10 and 13 inches. Baker said Williams was ice free on the opener, but Hatch was beginning to skim. Fourth of July and Hog Canyon were rehabilitated this year and have not been restocked.
Trolling for mackinaw remains good on the lower half of the trench on Lake Chelan. Other fishing opportunities in the area include trolling for Lahontan Cutthroat trout on Omak Lake, hitting Roses Lake for recently planted catchable rainbows and trolling bead-headed Wooly Bugger flies or casting quarter-ounce black Roostertails at shoreline points and structure on Rufus Woods.
Bank anglers are taking kokanee from Coeur d’Alene Lake by casting small pink steelhead jigs in the vicinity of Wolf Lodge. The spawning fish are far from prime, but some are still fit for smoking. Trout anglers are taking pan-sized trout casting from shore at Fernan.
Charlie LaDuca of Sandpoint won the rainbow division of the recent Lake Pend Oreille Thanksgiving tournament with a fish weighing 16 pounds, 4 ounces. In the mackinaw division, Ken Reiber of Airway Heights took the prize with a 13-pound, 13-ounce fish. In the youth division, Blake Jensen of Clark Fork won with a 13-pound, 13-ounce rainbow.
The next good walleye bite should begin shortly on Rufus Woods near Seaton’s Grove. Lake Roosevelt has slowed, as has the Columbia near Brewster. A few are coming from the Snake River near Lyons Ferry.
Eloika Lake is mostly open water, but there was a half inch of ice on the north end Thursday. We may be ice fishing for perch sooner than we think.
Area duck hunters are singing the blues, as the northern migration has not developed. Most of the ducks being shot are widgeon and gadwall. There are not even good numbers of ducks on the Columbia Refuge, and Winchester Wasteway, a popular Thanksgiving weekend destination, was almost devoid of feathers last weekend. Guide Gary Russell of Moses Lake said the situation has improved somewhat since.
There seems to be fair numbers of mallards on the Columbia near Pateros, and it appears Alberta is finally starting to freeze up and getting some snow. If it continues, we should only be a week away. Goose hunting has been good in the Columbia Basin.
Washington turkey hunters have until Dec. 15 to take their fall bird. Huge flocks are conspicuous in the wheat stubble throughout the Inland Empire and to the north.
Considering the shortage of pheasants this year, bird hunters might want to try their luck on grouse. Populations are down, but there are pockets of birds in Ferry and Stevens counties, and little snow lower than 3,000 feet.
The Idaho wolf season has been extended to March 31. Hunters who pursue wolves after Dec. 31, however, need a 2010 wolf tag and hunting license.
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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