Most steelhead rivers are blown out but the Methow has received some positive reports from fishermen swinging flies. The Grande Ronde is unfishable but the Clearwater and Snake could be okay. The Salmon River from the Little Salmon to Riggins saw high catch rates last week with anglers catching a steelhead for every three hours of effort. The Big Spokane is a reasonable fly fishing option except below Latah Creek where the water is brown. The upper river is not affected by tributary runoff. Nymphs and streamers will be most effective.
The lower Coeur d’Alene River is rising but it is not blown out and could be an option for the weekend. The warming, rising water is a good combination for streamers.
Salmon and steelhead
The Clearwater is very fishable and full of steelhead, says guide, Toby Wyatt of Reel Time Fishing. The steelhead are over-wintering and sometimes stacked up several to a hole. While freelancers are averaging a steelhead every six hours, guide boat clients are doing even better.
The South Fork of the Clearwater should be prime right now, but a lot of angler effort has resulted in very few steelhead.
Steelhead fisheries are currently open between Wells and Chief Joseph Dams, as well as in the Methow, Okanogan, Wenatchee, Icicle and Similkameen Rivers. There haven’t been a lot of anglers out because of the weather, but water clarity is pretty good on the Wenatchee and anglers who try are taking quite a few hatchery steelhead.
Fishing activity is light and the catch even lighter in the Hanford Reach. There is hope, however, as some of the highest catch and harvest rates for this fishery are typically in March.
Chinook fishing on Lake Coeur d’Alene has been decent all over the lake. Currently, the bite is on helmeted herring at 100-110 feet, but the fish should begin coming up soon as the water warms.
Anglers are catching a few steelhead from the beaches on the lower Columbia.
Open Water fishing
The wind and rain kept a lot of Lake Roosevelt anglers on shore this week, but trollers who braved the elements were still doing very well on trout from Ft. Spokane to Seven Bays. The Seven Bays launch lost its ice this week, but Porcupine Bay was still iced-in on Thursday.
A few walleye were caught this week and last weekend at the mouth of the Spokane Arm. One angler caught three ‘eyes over 5 pounds, but fishing was not nearly that good for everyone.
Walleye are also beginning to show on Potholes Reservoir. The lake is ice-free partly into the dunes.
Bank anglers are catching the 4- to 6-pound trout from the recent Colville Tribe release of triploids on Rufus Woods, but boaters weren’t able to reach them from Seaton Grove earlier in the week because of ice. Now that the weather has moderated, they should be more accessible.
Bank anglers are getting a few rainbow and browns from Rock Lake but say the water is murky and there have been no boats due to the wind.
Eloika Lake is solid, though somewhat sloppy. Perch anglers are doing well from Jerry’s Landing north, and on some days, the crappie are cooper- ative too. Silver Lake is still good out from the public access, but the 4-6-inch perch of Decem- ber haven’t grown much.
Most northern Idaho lakes have 7-8 inches of ice, though there is some water around the edges of the small lakes close to Coeur d’Alene. For perch, try Fernan, Cocolalla, Twin or Gamble lakes. An excellent all-fish rig for multi-species lakes such as Fernan and Eloika is a Glo Hook baited with maggots or perch eyes below a Kastmaster or large Swedish Pimple. No additional weight is required with this setup.
On Spirit Lake in Idaho, kokanee anglers are finding plenty of small fish 10-20 feet under the ice in 50 feet of water. One of the most popular spots is Bronze Bay.
Early in the week the Coeur d’Alene Chain Lakes were still a good bet for northern pike through the ice. A current runs through the system, so be wary of changing ice conditions. Lake Chatcolet ice still had anglers on Tuesday, but the ice appeared to be rotting.
The sport clam fishing season will open March 1 at Dosewallips State Park, located in Jefferson County on Hood Canal.
Clam diggers looking forward to other razor clam digs on Washington beaches now have two more months of possible options to consider. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has released a list of proposed digs in March and April, adding to one previously announced for Feb. 26-28. None of the digs have received final approval, but the list will allow diggers to start planning their next trip to the beach. For updates, see WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/ fishing/shellfish/ razorclams/current.html.
Sturgeon fishing on the Snake River between Lower Granite and Central Ferry should be taking off as soon as they start moving water by the dam, which could be any day now.
Washington hunters have until midnight February 28 to purchase and submit applications for a 2014 spring black bear permits. A drawing will be held in mid-March for 383 permits in western Washington and 314 permits for hunts east of the Cascades. To apply for a permit, hunters must purchase a special permit application and a 2014 hunting license that includes bear as a species option. Hunting licenses, bear transport tags and bear permit applications may be purchased online at http:// fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov/, by calling (866) 246-9453, or at any license vendor in the state. Special permit applications, which require a correct hunt choice number, may be submitted online at http:// fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov/, or by calling (877) 945-3492.
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