With the tributaries swollen, fly fishermen have few options. Steel- headers who normally fish the Grande Ronde, Clearwater and Touchet have moved to the Snake River above Heller Bar and are hitting a few fish.
Trout and kokanee
Hatch Lake in Stevens County still has good ice and lots of rainbow trout. The majority of fish are 14-15 inches long, but anglers have recently caught some 9-inchers. The middle of the lake has been best. Williams Lake is also providing good fishing for slightly smaller trout.
Hog Canyon Lake still has a good ice cover, the road in is decent, and the trout are biting. When I looked at Fourth of July on Monday, the parking lot was deserted, there was a lot of open water at the public access and the ice farther out did not look safe.
Rock Lake anglers are taking rainbow deep and browns much shallower. If trolling, try diving Rapalas on mono or Wooly Buggers or Flatfish on 3 colors of leaded line.
The trout bite on Lake Roosevelt ranges from “phenomenal” to “slow but consistent” according to angler reports. Trollers are using a variety of flies and plugs in orange. One angler who limited his boat in a few hours Sunday out of Lincoln noted that when he went back on Tuesday, the river had come up 3 feet. Fishing, nevertheless, was good.
A few kokanee are also coming in at Roosevelt. A friend was surprised to catch a 16-incher on a big, orange Rapala on top, but judging by other reports from Keller to Spring Canyon, this is not all that unusual.
Roses Lake in the Okanogan should continue to provide great ice fishing for planter rainbow trout. The ice is good.
Spirit Lake kokanee fishermen are doing well through the ice for 9-inch fish in 25-30 feet of water. Kelso Lake trout anglers are taking rainbow through good ice. Most lakes north of Coeur d’Alene are fishable.
Steelhead and salmon
All of the Snake River tributaries have been blown out because of the rain and melting snow, but the Snake River itself is still clear and fishable. One report from a friend said he and a buddy fished above Heller Bar recently where they hooked 10 steelhead and landed six, with three being keepers. The largest was 13 pounds.
The Grande Ronde was muddy and unfishable at midweek, but the river usually fixes itself quickly. Clearwater River guides were booking trips for today, and figure the river will be fishable by the weekend.
Lake Coeur d’Alene chinook fishing is fair. The fish are deep, but anglers dragging Mini Squid or herring are finding a few at Arrow Point and Rockford Bay.
Lake Roosevelt walleye are beginning to hit in the Spokane Arm as well as the main lake. Anglers using blade baits or drop-shotting Berkley Minnows in 25-30 feet of water have made some good catches.
Eloika Lake seems to be picking up a little for perch anglers with mornings being better than afternoons or evenings. The ice is about 10 inches thick – cloudy on top with 4 inches of clear ice below.
Silver Lake ice varies from spot to spot. The grey ice directly out from the launch is about 8 inches thick, while the clear ice farther to the right is about 4 inches. That is where the best perch fishing has been. Anglers used to ice fishing at Eloika in 8 feet of water will be surprised to find a good Silver Lake perch bite at 35-50 feet. The morning bite at Silver is best from 8-10.
Moses Lake has some really big perch. Anglers fishing through the ice by the I-90 Bridge have taken them up to 14 inches. At midweek, however, the ice was no longer safe.
In Idaho, Gamble Lake has produced perch to 13 1/2 inches this winter. It slowed down some last week, but had been producing some good numbers – unusual for a lake where six fish is considered a good day.
The Idaho Chain Lakes “are a mess,” said Jeff Smith at Fins and Feathers in Coeur d’Alene. The flooding Coeur d’Alene River is the culprit. Smith said Fernan Lake is also unfishable at this time. “There’s plenty of ice,” he said, “but there’s also water all around the edges.” He said that Rose Lake, which is one of the Chain Lakes, would probably be one of the only lakes fishable.
Sturgeon angling is good for boat anglers in the Bonneville Pool. Anglers should be mindful of large woody debris after the recent flooding when anchored for sturgeon.
Quite a few ducks returned to the Moses Lake area this week. For the most part, they are using the wasteways for refuge, as Potholes and Moses Lake still have a lot of ice and the sand dunes are completely iced in. There are a lot of geese. Canada geese will be open every day in Goose Management Area 4, Monday through Jan. 30.
The application period for Idaho spring turkey and black bear controlled hunts started last Saturday and runs through Feb. 15.