Fishing may be slow at Fourth of July Lake the final three days of the winter season. Anglers may catch more rainbows at Hog Canyon. The two will be closed after Monday.
The water at Hog Canyon, fed by a stream that’s flushing the lake constantly, is several degrees warmer than that at Fourth of July. The trout are a little more active.
However, in making a choice, keep in mind anglers have removed thousands of 10- to 18-inch rainbows from Hog Canyon the last three months. The trout population is low. But anglers may take five-fish limits the final days of the season.
Fourth of July was too cold last weekend and early this week for insects to hatch in large numbers. As a result, anglers fished many hours to catch two or three fish.
If the water temperature is five or more degrees higher than it was last weekend, fishing could be good.
Fishing has been slow at most of the lakes that were opened to fishing March 1. Don’t expect to catch a limit at Warden, South Warden, the Pillar-Widgeon lakes or Upper or Lower Hampton.
Fisheries biologists suspect the survival rate of small rainbows released into the lakes last year was low. The major reason may have been the long, harsh winter. Oxygen levels dropped drastically under deep snow. Another is that cormorants and gulls gorged themselves on the trout after they were released.
However, the small lakes in the Quincy area may produce some limits. Lakes attracting anglers include Quincy, Burk, Dusty, Cup and Martha.
Best bets for good-sized trout are the selective fishery lakes, including Lenice, Merry, Bobbie and Nunnally in the lower Crab Creek channel and Lenore southwest of Coulee City.
The four lakes in the lower Crab Creek channel have been attracting 20 to 50 anglers a day. Only tiny midges have been hatching at the lakes, but fly fishers have been catching 13- to 19-inch rainbows on a variety of patterns, including Mohair Leeches, scuds and Woolly Buggers, as well as on small chironomid pupae and larvae patterns.
The water at Lenore has been too cold for good fishing, but it should warm up fast if temperatures rise into the high 50s and low 60s. Some anglers have been hooking big spawning Lahontan cutthroat along the shorelines. The brightest and most active Lahontans are cruising the weed beds looking for midge larvae and pupae and for scuds.
Few rainbows are left in Rocky Ford Creek, a fly fishing-only stream north of Moses Lake. Fishing is poor.
Trollers continue to catch good-sized rainbows and a few big kokanee in the reservoir behind Chief Joseph Dam. Most have been fishing 8 to 12 miles below Grand Coulee.
Fishermen have been catching some 16-inch-plus bullhead catfish and a few channel cats at Sprague Lake, as well as an occasional rainbow, but little else. They’ve been unable to find schools of crappies, bluegills and perch. Bass and walleyes also have been elusive.
Most anglers believe the lake is too high for good fishing. As the water recedes and the weather improves, many species will move to shallow water, which warms faster than the deep water.
Anglers continue to catch walleyes where the water enters the Potholes Reservoir from Moses Lake. They’ve also started catching a few walleyes in the main reservoir.
Some fishermen have been trying for bass along the Winchester and Frenchman Hills wasteways, but they haven’t had much success.
Trolling for chinook salmon at Lake Coeur d’Alene hasn’t been hot, but some anglers have hooked 6- to 14-pounders, Jeff Smith, owner of the Fins & Feathers shop, reported.
The lake has come up 4 feet and is off-color, he said. However, the water isn’t muddy enough to affect salmon fishing.
As usual, most chinooks have been hooked from just beneath the surface down to 25 feet. Most fishermen are trolling helmeted herring or floating Rapalas.
Smith said the Tubbs Hill area and Beauty Bay are popular in the north end. The Harlow Point area is a good place to troll in the south end.
Best trout fishing in the Panhandle is at Lake Pend Oreille, Smith said. Anglers, trolling big Lyman plugs, Flatfish and baited flies behind dodgers, have been hooking mackinaw trout, particularly near north-end islands.
He recommended anglers troll dodgers ahead of flies baited with squawfish strips.
All rainbows and bull trout must be released.
Smith also said anglers have been catching 12- to 14-inch rainbows at Fernan Lake and rainbow-cutthroat hybrids to 5 pounds at Hayden Lake.
The hybrids are cruising the flooded fields at the outlet and anglers, using spinners and bait, are teasing the trout into striking.
Pike are starting to move into the bays to spawn at Lake Coeur d’Alene. However, anglers didn’t do well last weekend. The bite could come on anytime.
The Snake and its tributaries were too high and muddy to provide good steelhead fishing last weekend, Jay Poe, owner of Hells Canyon Sports at Clarkston, said. Most anglers will wait until the rivers clear enough for the steelhead to see lures.
The Idaho Fish and Game Department reported the best fishing was along the Little Salmon River, where anglers averaged 17 hours per steelhead. All anglers checked along the upper Clearwater had no steelhead. Only a few fishermen checked along the Clearwater’s South Fork had fish. The average was 26 hours per fish.
Meanwhile, a few have been fishing for smallmouth bass and channel catfish along the Snake River, Poe said, noting fishing has been slow.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will begin annual counts of fish passage over most Columbia and Snake river dams on Tuesday.
The newspaper will begin publishing fish counts Wednesday in the Stat Sheet.
If you’ve been thinking of fishing Montana streams, especially those in the Missoula area, forget it. The rivers are high and muddy.
Spokane area fly fishers look forward to drifting the lower Clark Fork in their drift and pontoon boats each spring before the major runoff. Some good-sized insects, including the Skwalla stonefly and March Brown mayfly, hatch during the pre-runoff period.
Fly fishers may not get a chance to fish the Clark Fork, Bitterroot and Rock Creek until after the major run-off. Some guides are hoping there’ll be an interval between the melting of snow in the low country and the big thaw in the high country. Others doubt the streams will be fishable again until late May or June.
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