North Fork Coeur d’Alene River trout have been feeding consistently throughout the day. Skwalas and golden stones are out, and there is always the chance of an afternoon dry fly hatch.
Amber Lake success seems to change daily. A black chironomid pattern suspended under an indicator at 8 feet will usually attract strikes. Fish close to shore. Coffeepot has been excellent for large trout. Leeches do well.
Rocky Ford trout have been hitting dries off the surface this week. An elk–hair caddis can be very effective. Lenice Lake has also been excellent at times.
Grande Ronde steelhead guide Rick Hedding said the river is up some, but fishing is still good. He said in the higher water, clients throwing egg patterns are finding fish next to shore. He added that the majority of the fish are “smokers,” and though the flesh has lost its color, it is still firm. The season on the Grande Ronde ends April 15.
Salmon and steelhead
Last week, Columbia River anglers caught 4,874 adult spring chinook. The effort and catch totals for March are the highest in the history of the creel program. Things will probably slow down some this week with the turbid water, especially in the lower river. Fish the more shallow water away from river mouths, and troll with a flasher/dodger to increase visibility.
Trout and kokanee
Roosevelt trout and kokanee reports are diverse. Two anglers reported catching five rainbow and two kokanee in the Sanpoil Arm on Tuesday, but a friend who fished all week out of Fort Spokane caught only five fish. Other friends, who did well from shore at Fort Spokane last week, caught only one on Monday.
Rufus Woods Reservoir continues to kick out an occasional large trout. Rapalas – both cast and trolled – took some nice triploids this week. Quarter-ounce Super Roostertails and a slow retrieve are also effective.
Sprague Lake is beginning to hit its stride. An angler fishing from the dock at Four Seasons caught a rainbow weighing almost 51/2 pounds. Rock Lake browns were also hitting. Most of the fish were on the skinny side.
Liberty has been slow from shore but decent for trollers dragging Rip ‘n’ Minnows or Rapalas on top. The main launch dock is installed. Access docks have also been reinstalled at Newman and Eloika lakes.
Spectacle Lake in the Okanogan opened for fishing Thursday. There is a five-fish daily catch limit and bait is allowed. Fish Lake, near Lake Wenatchee, has finally lost its ice. Rat Lake near Brewster, Big and Little Green near Omak, and Davis and Campbell near Winthrop switched to catch-and-release trout fishing Thursday. Selective-gear rules are in effect.
Levi Meseberg of MarDon Resort on Potholes Reservoir said warmer than normal water temperatures resulted in the best bass fishing he’s had in March. He said he caught 22 (including a few smallies) last Saturday, his best day in March. “You get spoiled this time of year because the bigger females are the first to come up, so everything I’m catching is in the high 2 pounds or bigger range,” Meseberg said. “I’ve already caught more largemouth over 5 pounds than I did in all of 2009.”
At Downs Lake, the bass bite has also begun earlier than usual, and the fish are “hitting almost anything,” according to anglers surveyed. It is still a little early for the big perch and crappie Downs is noted for. Eloika Lake north of Spokane is giving up small perch and a few large bass.
Bonnie Lake is low and dirty and the fishing hasn’t really picked up. Most of the perch have spawned, so as soon as the water warms a little more, bass and perch should take off.
There have been at least two large tiger musky caught at Newman Lake recently along the weed beds in 6-8 feet of water. Big jerk baits are the ticket.
Long Lake is almost full pool, and as soon as it settles the perch and crappie fishing should take off. With Long Lake full, Lake Coeur d’Alene should begin filling and the pike will move into the bays to spawn.
The Pend Oreille River is still low, and it is nearly impossible to fish the sloughs.
Anglers are nevertheless taking a few pike on the outside, finding their fish in the murky shallows. Now and then a nice smallmouth is landed.
The latest creel survey at Banks Lake shows decent catch rates on yellow perch and fair size on walleye. Crappie are beginning to bite. They average 11 inches.
Catfish are at the mouth of the Palouse River. At Lyons Ferry Marina, Jim MacArthur said the river is not as muddy as in years past and walleye are also coming in.
The weather on Washington’s coast hasn’t been conducive to ocean fishing for lingcod. Typically, many anglers wait until Marine Area 4 opens on April 16 to head out. Neah Bay is historically a good fishery for lings.
The Washington State youth turkey season is Saturday and Sunday. There are indications the big flocks in some areas are breaking up, but on Wednesday evening, just north of Spokane, I counted 72 birds in one flock and 113 in another. There were several strutting gobblers in each bunch.
Most recent column
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