Trout and kokanee
Rock Lake has been good for rainbow and browns with most of the action coming at the creek end on a variety of trolled and tossed offerings. The gold F-7 Rapala has been good, but everything from hootchies to spoons has proven effective.
Lake Roosevelt rainbow are still uncooperative. A friend fishing all day from shore at Fort Spokane had one bite and saw one fish landed. Trollers dragging Muddlers are doing a little better, but no one is too excited yet.
Some reports indicate that rainbow fishing can still be good at Rufus Woods Reservoir, while others say you can’t buy a bite there. Dark-colored Wooley Bugger jigs accounted for some good catches this week, but anglers who got on the lake after 11 a.m. didn’t have much action.
Lake Chelan still remains good for mackinaw above the Yacht Club and in the Lower trenches off Rocky Point. Troll the bottom at speeds between 1.3-1.6 mph.
Roses Lake near Chelan continues to pump out easy limits of 10- to 12-inch rainbow. Successful anglers suggest not staying with a dry hole too long. Keep your offerings small and simple – a single worm or salmon egg hook and enough weight to feel the bottom. Good ice fishing also remains at Fish Lake, Roses Lake and at Patterson Lake near Winthrop.
Waitts Lake closes at the end of February, but several other lakes open March 1. These include Downs, Liberty, Medical, Amber, Coffeepot, North Silver and Deer, as well as Lenore, Columbia County lakes and Columbia Basin lakes. There will be a full report next Friday.
Anglers have had success in recent weeks on Lake Washington, hooking cutthroat trout around the creek mouths. The daily limit is five trout, but rainbow trout measuring more than 20 inches and steelhead must be released. Beginning March 1, trout must measure at least 12 inches in length to be retained.
Steelhead and salmon
Snake River system steelhead action is picking up as tributaries receive a shot of water from snowpack melt. WDFW enforcement officers recently patrolling the Snake reported steelheaders doing well in the Lower Granite Dam area and on the upper river near Clarkston. Most boats coming off the river at Swallow’s Nest averaged two steelhead.
The Clearwater River has not picked up much since last week, but there are a lot of fish in the river and the bite could ramp up at any time. The North Fork has been best with an average of about nine hours per fish caught.
The Grande Ronde Steelhead Derby began Sunday and ends March 28. Entry fee is $30 with a $500 prize for big fish in the adult category and $200 in the youth category. The largest fish entered so far is 11 pounds, 11 ounces. Fishing has been good the last two weeks, mostly on jigs and bobbers or Corkies and yarn.
Winter blackmouth fisheries, particularly in Hood Canal and around the San Juan Islands, continue to produce good catches in Puget Sound. A creel check of anglers aboard 53 boats fishing on Hood Canal near Seabeck showed an average of one resident chinook for every two poles
Friends fishing Eloika Lake this week found a light bite until Thursday. Between 8-9 a.m., they put more than 20 fish on the ice and said some were “nice-sized.”
I filleted 15 Silver Lake perch this week and got about 10 ounces of meat. Yes, they’re small. The bite was frantic from dawn until about 10 a.m. but dropped dramatically after that.
An occasional success story is heard from Newman Lake anglers, but the lake does not receive much attention. For small perch, the northeast side seems to be better than the area around the public access.
Banks Lake hard-water anglers are finding perch in the Causeway/Osborne Bay area by Electric City. On the other end of the lake near Coulee City, the action is mostly for whitefish. The best bite is reportedly at night, and some anglers are staying on the ice until dawn.
The Roosevelt walleye bite has been better than the trout bite lately. Scattered reports are coming in from throughout the system, with the main emphasis being around Kettle Falls. No good news from Rufus Woods yet.
In Idaho, Cocolalla is still good for perch and the bite is on at Hayden at times. Pike are still being caught in the chain lakes.
The sport clam fishing season at Dosewallips State Park (Jefferson County on the west side of Hood Canal) opens March 1 and runs through Oct. 31. This is a month earlier than last year’s opening and reflects an increase in the clam population.
Smelt are finally moving into the Cowlitz River. The Cowlitz opens to smelt dipping Saturday and remains open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. each Saturday through March. The daily catch limit is 10 pounds per person. All other tributaries to the Columbia River in Washington are closed to smelt fishing.
A good showing of smelt could improve prospects for sturgeon fishing in the lower Columbia River Basin. Sturgeon fishing has been fairly slow above and below Bonneville Dam in recent weeks, but an influx of smelt could invigorate the fishery downriver from the Cowlitz. Sturgeon effort is picking up on the Snake near Central Ferry, but the bite is lagging behind enthusiasm.
Bead Lake burbot anglers who get on the ice early or stay late are making some nice catches. The fish are quite a bit larger than the 21/2-pounders being pulled from 50 feet of water in the Noisy Creek area of Sullivan Lake.
An Oregon hunter who is remaining anonymous recently paid $120,000 for Idaho’s auction bighorn sheep permit at the Wild Sheep Foundation’s annual convention in Salt Lake City. The tag can be used in Hells Canyon.
WDFW is accepting applications for spring black bear hunting permits through March 13. To be eligible for a permit, hunters must purchase a special permit application and a 2009 hunting license that includes bear as a species option. A drawing will be held in mid-March for 295 permits in western Washington and 225 permits on the east side of the state. Successful applicants will be notified by March 31.
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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