It’s not prime time for fly fishermen unless they’re chasing whitefish, but Rock Creek in Montana has been fishing fairly well. Nymph rigs including Copper Johns, Rubberlegs, worms and princes have been getting the most attention. The lower river has been the most productive lately.
Fishing on the Clark Fork remains fairly localized. Stick to the river just below Missoula to find some fish up on midges on warmer days.
Flows are up and down a bit on the lower Bitterroot River, but the fishing remains fairly consistent. The river near Missoula has seen some pretty good midge fishing on top, mostly in the flats.
Steelhead and salmon
Steelhead anglers on the Snake are throwing shrimp and bobbers off the rip-rap at Wawawai for some fish. The Clearwater River in Idaho has seen good steelheading between Orofino and Lenore. Anglers drifting bait or Corkies and yarn do best.
“Washington steelhead” should be stacking up at the mouth of the Grande Ronde near Heller Bar to head upstream to the acclimation pond near Boggan’s Oasis. Boggan’s will host its sixth annual Spring Steelhead Derby Feb. 10-March 24. There will be weekly cash prizes for biggest fish and prizes for the top 25 finishers. Big fish of the derby collects $500 for an adult angler and $200 for anyone 14 or younger. After experiencing a little mud at midweek, the Grande Ronde is clearing up for the weekend.
The Okanogan and Similkameen rivers were still iced over at the end of January, but conditions for steelhead can change quickly at this time of year. Anglers continue to catch some hatchery steelhead at Ringold, both from the bank and by boat. Although fishing has been spotty this winter, catch rates should pick up in late February or early March.
Winter steelhead fishing has been excellent for boat anglers in The Dalles pool.
Trout and kokanee
Stevens County’s two winter-only lakes – Hatch and Williams – are still providing some catches through the ice, according to Bill Baker, WDFW northeast district fish biologist. Hatch Lake was producing some carry-over rainbow trout up to 15 inches and others around 11 inches. Williams Lake, 14 miles north of Colville, has 14-inch-plus rainbows. Lake Roosevelt trout fishing was slow at the end of January. The few fish being caught have been large. February is the last month to fish Waitts Lake, west of Valley along Highway 395 in southern Stevens County. This 455-acre lake has rainbows, browns and perch. Ice is good and fishing is fair.
The bite for brookies and rainbow is good at Summit Lake, north of Kettle Falls. You’ll need a 4x4 to get in and maybe even chains.
Hog Canyon Lake has slowed down, but all fish checked recently were more than 14 inches. Anglers at Fourth of July are doing better – also on 14-inch trout.
WDFW Swanson Lakes Wildlife Area Manager Juli Anderson reports potential for winter trout fishing at the Lincoln County area’s Z Lake. She said an aerated opening about half way up the lake keeps this an open-water opportunity, but anglers need to walk in about a mile from the county road to get there.
Rock Lake in Whitman County has been consistent through the winter for brown and rainbow trout catches. Chartreuse-colored rigs have been seeing the most action.
Davis Lake in the Winthrop area, Rat Lake near Brewster, and Big and Little Green lakes west of Omak have been providing good catches of rainbow trout through the ice.
Rufus Woods triploids in the 3-pound range are still hitting in 10 feet of water off the shorelines on the upper reservoir. Dark jigs worked slowly have been best.
Eloika Lake perch fishing has been relatively slow. Silver Lake has been good, but it is difficult to pinpoint the right time to be on the ice. Friends and I fished there twice this week on back-to-back days. The first day, I caught two fish between 8:30-11. The second day I caught two dozen in the same time frame. Overall, earlier is better and the bite has been deeper than in weeks past. Ice is good at both lakes.
In Okanogan County, several winter-only ice fishing opportunities continue this month, but anglers there are also advised to watch for changing conditions. Patterson Lake near Winthrop was recently checked by WDFW police officers who reported lots of perch in the 7- to 8-inch range. Trout and even a few kokanee are showing also.
Chelan District Fish Biologist Travis Maitland of Wenatchee reports fishing at Fish and Roses lakes has been relatively good. Mostly perch and rainbow trout with the occasional brown trout are being caught through the ice at both lakes. Roses Lake, about a mile north of Manson, is also producing an occasional largemouth bass.
Jigs and blade baits are taking a few walleye near Buoy 5 near Porcupine Bay on Lake Roosevelt.
Upper Twin in Idaho’s Kootenai County was excellent last week for perch. You needn’t go far from the launch. Pike have also been taken.
This is prime time to jig for squid in Puget Sound. Good spots include the Elliot Bay Pier in Seattle, the Edmonds Pier, the Point Defiance Park Pier in Tacoma, and the Indianola Pier in Kitsap County.
Anglers are catching whitefish on the Naches and Tieton rivers and on the Yakima River upstream from Union Gap. Most Idaho rivers also have whitefish.
Anglers fishing Lake Roosevelt’s deeper water near river mouths are catching burbot. Most are about 3 pounds. Buoy 5 in the Spokane Arm is popular. Burbot are also available on Bead Lake. Best fishing is at night under the power lines in deep water.
Sturgeon angling is good for boat anglers in the Bonneville Pool. Water flows have been high and boaters should be mindful of large debris floating down the river.
The application period for Idaho spring turkey controlled hunts opened Wednesday and runs to March 1. The application period for spring black bear ends Feb. 15. Spring turkey and spring black bear seasons start April 15 – some controlled hunts open later. Leftover tags for spring turkey and bear controlled hunts go on sale April 1. Idaho hunters may apply for controlled hunts at any hunting and fishing license vendor, Fish and Game office; with a credit card by calling 1-800-55HUNT5; or at fishandgame.idaho.gov.
WDFW is accepting enrollment applications through Feb. 15 for its Master Hunter program. For information, see WDFW’s Master Hunter webpage or call 360-902-8412.