Hunting & Fishing
Gobblers will be fair game along much of the Snake, Clearwater and Salmon rivers, as well as in Benewah and Latah counties, starting Monday.
From indications, there are plenty of toms for good hunting.
Like wild turkeys in Washington, flocks in Idaho have expanded into new areas each year. There are turkeys from Riggins along the Salmon River to the Canadian border north of Bonners Ferry.
In fact, it’s not unusual to see wild turkeys along the main highway just south of Bonners Ferry.
Several game management units in the Clearwater region will be open Monday through May 12. Much of the best hunting will be near the major rivers.
The general season for GMUs 1, 2 and 3 will be April 29-May 12.
The Idaho Fish and Game Department has issued more than 445 permits for controlled hunts. Opening dates for permit holders range from April 13 to April 29.
Some permits are for areas that aren’t open during the general seasons.
Nearly 7,000 hunters bought turkey tags in Idaho last year and bagged about 1,500 turkeys.
Washington’s turkey season will open April 15.
Only a few more days remain to fish Washington tributaries to the Snake River. Anglers can continue to take steelhead until April 15 along the Grande Ronde, Touchet, Tucannon and Walla Walla rivers.
Fishing has ranged from almost unbelievably good to poor the last few weeks. When the streams have been clear enough for the steelhead to see bait and lures, fishing has been good. As the result of rainstorms and runoff, however, the rivers often have been high and dirty.
The Touchet and Tucannon have provided some of the fastest steelhead fishing in the Northwest when they were fairly clear. Fish and Wildlife Department checks show anglers have averaged as low as 1.57 hours per fish along the Touchet and 4 hours along the Tucannon.
That’s almost unbelievably good fishing. An average of 10 hours per fish is considered excellent.
Bait and drift fishermen have done exceptionally well along the upper Grande Ronde the last few weeks, although the river has been high and off color. Most fish from Bogan’s to Troy, Ore.
The few thousand steelhead that holed up below lower Snake River dams during the winter months are moving toward their spawning grounds and have shown little interest in fishermen’s lures. Fishing has been slow near Little Goose and Lower Granite dams, between Clarkston and the mouth of the Salmon River and along the lower Clearwater.
Anglers are fishing for chinooks along the Wind, White Salmon and Klickitat rivers and Drano Lake. The limit during the emergency spring chinook seasons for the Columbia River tributaries is one a day.
The Wind will be open through June 15; Drano, through May 15; White Salmon, through July 31; and Klickitat, through May 31.
The Klickitat will reopen June 1 and close July 31. The limit will be six salmon a day, no more than two of which can be adults.
Ringold Springs above Pasco will open from May 16-July 31. Fishing will be limited to the bank on the hatchery side of the Columbia. Limit will be one per day.
The Icicle River will be open daily from May 8-June 30. Limit: one per day.
For Spokane area and Idaho anglers, the best fishing for chinook salmon may be at Lake Coeur d’Alene. Although the lake has been off color as the result of floods earlier this year, trollers occasionally have hooked immature chinooks.
Most have been caught by anglers who have trolled helmeted herring near the surface in the northeast part of the lake. As the water clears, other parts of the lake are expected to produce fair to good fishing.
Now is a good time to consider fishing for the big Lahontan cutthroat at the 7-mile-long lake southwest of Coulee City. Fishing has been spotty since it opened March 1 to catch-and-release fishing.
The chironomid hatch seems to be increasing as the water warms. Fly fishers, using black Swannundaze pupa patterns and Chan Chironomids under indicators, have hooked 15- to 24-inch Lahontans. They’ve also had fair luck at times on Woolly Buggers and standard leech patterns.
Spin fishermen have been casting Mepps-type spinners and wobbling lures.
If you’re interested in catching pike, now is a good time to fish Lake Coeur d’Alene. Some big pike have moved to shallow bays and are taking smelt fished under big bobbers.
Most anglers use a two-hook set-up. They hook the upper treble hook in the head of the smelt, wrap the wire leader around the smelt body and run the smaller hook through the tail.
Fishermen anchor in 3 to 5 feet of water, cast the rigs out and wait for a bite.
Clark Fork River
The area’s fly fishers look forward to fishing the Clark Fork just above and below St. Regis before the big spring runoff. If the river remains low and fairly clear, they’ll hook some big trout the next week or two.
Baetis and March Brown mayflies, as well as Skwalla stoneflies, hatch during the pre-runoff period.
Although fishing has been slow lately, anglers have caught numerous 12- to 17-inch bullhead catfish, a few big rainbows, some keeper-size walleyes and enough 7- to 11-inch crappies to keep them fishing the lake.
So far, few anglers have found schools of perch large enough to fillet. Bluegills seem to be rare.
Fishing has been slow at the majority of the trout lakes opened March 1. Consequently, most anglers have turned to fishing lakes that are open year-round.
Among the lakes that have produced good numbers of rainbows are Susan and the Windmills in the Seep Lakes Recreation Area, the Falcons below O’Sullivan Dam and Upper and Lower Caliche lakes in the Quincy area.
It’s possible there will be enough big-lake whitefish near the inlet of Soda Lake this weekend for fair to good fishing. The whitefish concentrate at the inlet soon after the Bureau of Reclamation starts releasing water out of the Potholes Reservoir.
Trollers have hooked some walleyes off the Alder Street fill in downtown Moses Lake. Bait fishermen have caught 10- to 12-inch bullheads in the area and also in Parker Horn of Moses Lake.
Although some anglers, fishing from shore, have caught 12- to 22-inch rainbows, the best fishing is for walleyes. Fishermen are continuing to hook good numbers on the flats north of the mouth of the Spokane River.
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