The Clearwater River has been low and clear and fishing has been poor, but at Camp, Cabin and Home in Lewiston, Andy Alldredge said there were 8 inches of new snow Wednesday morning with rain projected for later on. Assuming the melt doesn’t come too quickly and dirty the water, steelhead fishing should improve.
The Grande Ronde River has produced few steelhead and it is unlikely to change soon as the river is still frozen. There should still be a lot of fish in the river come the February thaw.
The lower portion of the White Salmon River reopened to hatchery steelhead fishing Wednesday below the powerhouse, the first fishing allowed since Condit Dam was breached in October.
Steelhead anglers are catching a few fish keepers in The Dalles and John Day Pools. Some winter steelhead should be available from beaches on the lower Columbia.
Trout and kokanee
Rock Lake browns are hitting crankbaits trolled within 50 feet of the shoreline. Most are less than 17 inches. A few rainbows are also being taken.
Lake Roosevelt’s Spring Canyon yielded a few rainbow last week to anglers long-lining Rapalas. Fishing was mostly slow all over the reservoir. One report from the San Poil Arm indicated fishing was slow in the morning and excellent in the late afternoon. A Lenny’s Special perch fly tipped with nightcrawler took most of the fish along the sand banks.
Frank Whitney and Skipper Bill Bongers fished Roosevelt last week, again limiting on 18- to 21-inch kokanee. Bongers said the trick is to fish the top 11 feet at midlake and work the fish until they disappear. Cold water has them on the surface.
Rufus Woods triploid fishing can change drastically depending on water flow. Low flow generally makes for less action. Black jigs are generally productive near the net pens where trout are consistently running more than 3 pounds.
Fourth of July Lake has fished better than Hog Canyon recently, with most trout more than 14 inches. A variety of bait is most commonly used among ice anglers. Ice is good and the bite has been best before noon. Another winter lake, Hatch, has been excellent for ice anglers dunking Power Bait.
Sprague Lake is fishing again between the launch and the island. Large trout have been finicky.
Perch at Eloika and Silver lakes are biting well at dusk and dawn … except when they’re not. On some days, it doesn’t seem to matter what time you go or what you use, the bite is fast. Other days, the same time and technique will yield nothing.
One angler was checked coming off the ice at Eloika with a 5-gallon bucket of perch. He said the bite was good all day. The day before, he said he caught six fish. Eloika ice is a solid 6-7 inches except at the public access where the creek runs in. On Silver Lake, the bay out from the launch was a solid 5 inches early in the week, but ice around the point was much thinner and there were a few small areas of open water. Silver Lake perch are generally larger than those at Eloika (8-9 inches), but Eloika also has a big population of largemouth. Eloika is easier to fish because the water is seldom more than 9 feet deep. At Silver, the best bite has been in 32 feet of water.
Newman Lake is ice-covered and anglers are catching small perch and sunfish near the public access.
Walleye anglers are putting in a lot of hours for a few fish on Lake Roosevelt. Most success has been in Porcupine Bay not too far from the launch.
Ice anglers were testing the perch bite on Moses Lake north of the I-90 Bridge this week. The bays were not completely frozen early in the week, so use caution as the snow has covered spots of thin ice.
At Fins and Feathers in Coeur d’Alene, Jeff Smith said he fished Avondale recently and did well on bluegill. Smith also fished Fernan for perch on Thursday and said they are a decent size. His favorite offering is a Swedish Pimple with a weighted dropper that looks like a Glo Hook, a Ratso or a Ratfinky. Smith said to load the hook with maggots or put on a big wax worm.
Hauser Lake ice is also good to go and anglers are catching perch as well as trout. Some big pike are coming through 4 inches of ice on Chatcolet by anglers using herring or smelt under a tip-up. A 16-pounder was caught last week and the average size is much larger than those in the Chain Lakes.
Ice on Medicine and Cave lakes in the Coeur d’Alene chain wasn’t quite thick enough for safe fishing early in the week, but some anglers were trying it anyway. It may be better by the weekend.
Jigs and Robo-Worms are still putting burbot in the boat on Lake Roosevelt. Porcupine Bay near Buoy 5 has been a popular spot, but you’re likely to find burbot anywhere in deeper water where a creek enters the reservoir.
Sturgeon angling is good for boat anglers in the Bonneville Pool. A few are also coming from in The Dalles and John Day Pools.
Goose hunting in Management Area 4 is open every day of the week from Saturday until the end of the season on Jan. 29.
There may still be a chance for duck hunters to get a few shots on the Pend Oreille River this weekend. Reports are a good number of birds have shown up again.
On a fruitless trip to the Columbia Basin to hunt quail and ducks last weekend, I counted no fewer than six big coyotes close to the highway. With the snow, song dogs will be even more conspicuous, and spotting and stalking or calling may liven up the winter dead time. Coyotes may even be hunted with a light at night now that deer and elk seasons have ended. At the recently completed North American fur auction, fleshed and stretched coyote pelts averaged over $65 each.
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In November, my friend Walt called asking for advice on getting a bird dog. “I’m in the market for a hunting dog and I’m wondering,” he asked: “Has getting older changed your preference for big-running dogs?”
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