The lower St. Joe and Coeur d’Alene rivers continue to improve and some anglers have even been catching fish on the Clark Fork despite high water. No skwalas have appeared, but they usually show up around April 1st.
The upper Yakima River is a good stretch for some big cutts and rainbow and the river is in pretty good shape. You’ll probably want a guide for this float as the water can be full of log jams. Contact Troutwater Fly at (509) 962-3474 in Ellensburg or (509) 674- 2144 in Cle Elum.
Amber Lake has been excellent. Lake Lenore is ice-free and some big cutts are being caught on chironomids.
Columbia River trout fishing around Northport, Washington, picks up significantly around the April 1st, as some really large rainbow will be staging to spawn on the gravel bars.
Trout and kokanee
Friends who fished Jones Bay on Lake Roosevelt from shore this week said they went the first three hours without a bite and then landed 10 fish in the next two hours. All were 17-19 inches long except one, which stretched 22 inches.
Rock Lake water clarity has improved somewhat and anglers throwing swim baits were catching some big rainbow and browns in the rocks and along the shores. Bait fishermen at the launch were not doing as well.
Hog Canyon clarity has improved somewhat, and anglers throwing small spinners are doing as well or better than bait fishermen. The lake closes after Monday.
Friends who fished Coffeepot this week said trout fishing was “awesome,” but you can’t get to the lower lake. They trolled single-hooked Hot Shots.
Curlew Lake is still iced over, but it has taken on the gray appearance of ice that is ready to melt. Local resort owners are predicting just a few more days. In the past three years, there has been an excellent trout bite right after ice-out. Many of the Curlew rainbow were 18-20 inches last fall.
The Tucannon River impoundments on WDFW’s Wooten Wildlife Area are still producing nice rainbow catches.
Kokanee fishing is picking up on Dworshak Reservoir in Idaho, with most of the fish running about 10 inches. For larger kokanee, try Hayden Lake, Lake Chelan, or Lake Roosevelt in the vicinity of Spring Canyon. A few kokes were taken there this week that weighed over 4 pounds. Palmer Lake, near Loomis, is booting out some beautiful 13-14-inch kokanee. The fishing will only improve into April.
A few large kokanee have shown up for trollers recently at Priest Lake, some nearing the 20-inch mark. Jiggers are finding mackinaw off Bartoo Island at depths of 180-200 feet.
Dozens of lakes open to fishing Tuesday, most in Adams and Grant counties, many within the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge. These include the Pillar-Widgeon chain of lakes. These small walk-in lakes should be fair to good on the opener, says WDFW fish biologist Chad Jackson.
North and South Teal lakes, among the “Seep Lakes” south of Potholes Reservoir and north of Othello, should fish well on the opener. Expect good catches of rainbows averaging 13 inches with carryovers to 20 inches. Upper and Lower Hampton lakes didn’t get stocked as planned last fall, so fishing is not expected to be good.
In the north end of Grant County near Coulee City, Dry Falls Lake also opens Tuesday and fishing is expected to be excellent for rainbow running mostly 14-16 inches. This is a Selective Gear fishery with an internal combustion motor prohibition and a one-fish daily catch limit. Dry Falls also has brown and tiger trout.
The March 1st opener in Grant County went very well considering the weather was terrible. Most anglers who toughed it out for a couple hours took limits of 10-12-inch fish from Caliche, Burke, Martha, Windmill and the Quincy lakes, and the low participation left a lot of fish for nicer days. Worms and marshmallows or PowerBait are the most popular right now, but small spoons and spinner flies have also been good.
Two Okanogan County lakes open Tuesday: Spectacle Lake and Washburn Island Pond. Spectacle is usually good for yearling rainbows that run 11-12 inches, plus some brown trout. Bluegill and largemouth bass are the predominant species at Washburn Island Pond.
Other Okanogan County rainbow trout fisheries shift to catch-and-release-only fishing on Tuesday. These include Campbell, Cougar, Davis, Green and Lower Green and Rat lakes.
Salmon and steelhead
Lake Coeur d’Alene Chinook are in the top 30 feet of water now. If you don’t have herring, try a deep diving Husky Jerk or Minnow Rap in Fire Tiger or Hot Tiger. The J.H. (Red) Covey Memorial Salmon Derby on the big lake, sponsored by Fins and Feathers in Coeur d’Alene, will run April 12-13. There will be cash prizes in assorted categories, and big fish first place is guaranteed $1,500. Info: (208) 667-9304.
The Grande Ronde has been decent for steelhead with best results coming from drifting small Corkies and yarn. Call Boggan’s Oasis for a current flow report: (509) 256-3372.
A report from Idaho indicates Hayden Lake crappie are beginning to bite. Although there have been no reports from Lake Spokane, crappie there should become active, too, even with the muddy water. Fish the channel in front of Willow Bay, across the lake from the old Forshees launch, or down by Felton Slough on the north side of the river. Throw a curlytail jig 4 feet under a bobber. White and yellow always seem best. Start in deeper water and move closer to shore as the weather warms. Newman and Liberty are also beginning to give up a few crappie and largemouth.
Northern pike fishing is good on the Chain Lakes and on Coeur d’Alene. Anglers are hanging either smelt, herring or skinned perch below bobbers for some big fish. Try Cougar Bay, Wolf Lodge Bay and Blue Creek, Squaw and Mica Bays in the northern end of the lake. Windy, Harrison and Rocky Point Bay are the most popular locations in the south end.
Hayden Twin Lakes, Spirit, and Fernan are also seeing some small pike action.
Fishing on the Snake River above Lower Granite last Saturday, two friends caught numerous smallmouth bass, some as large as 4 pounds. All came on crankbaits in shallow water.
Beginning Sunday and running through April 3rd, scheduled clam digs at Twin Harbors and Long Beach will switch to morning minus tides.
A spring wild turkey season for Washington hunters under age 16 is scheduled April 5-6 prior to the start of the general spring turkey hunt beginning April 15th. In Idaho, the youth hunt is for anyone 10 to 15 years of age. It runs April 8-14. All youth hunters must be accompanied by a non-hunting licensed adult who is in the immediate area.
Most recent column
The curtain has opened on the last act in the Columbia River system’s “Year of the Salmon.” The performance began with good returns of spring chinook followed by this summer’s post-dams record returns of sockeye and a great showing of coho. Now the big stars …
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