Trout and kokanee
Liberty Lake is ice-free. Wade Lawson, one of the fishing department managers at Sportsmen’s Warehouse, fished the lake Wednesday afternoon and said he couldn’t do anything wrong. Big browns are cruising the shallows, and Lawson had no trouble fooling them with his Rapala.
Another good spot for brown trout is Rock Lake in Whitman County. The lake is starting to get some color, which has slowed the rainbow bite, but big browns are still hitting plugs, spinners and spoons, particularly in the shallows.
Downs and Amber lake anglers may find open water this weekend. Downs had excellent trout fishing last spring and great perch fishing later on. Amber holds some really nice rainbows and cutthroat.
Medical Lake still has an ice cap, as does Deer Lake. Ice fisherman at Deer have recently pulled some 18- to 20-inch rainbow through the ice near The Narrows in Millstone Cove. Deer is sloppy on top, but had 8 inches of good ice last weekend.
Coffeepot Lake is breaking up. There is open water at the launch and around the edges.
The Coeur d’Alene River is still low, but fishing is lights out from Cataldo to Teepee Creek. PMDs, Green Drakes and nearly any bead head nymph will catch fish. The Spokesman-Review outdoors editor, Rich Landers, floated the river March 6 and said trout were on the surface feeding on midges and small dark stoneflies.
The St. Joe is fishing pretty well and has more water than the Coeur d’Alene. Streamers should produce good results. The Clark Fork is also starting to pick up for nymphers.
The Yakima River continues to be free of run-off issues, said Jim Gallagher at the Yakima River Fly Shop. The water temperature is about 40 degrees with flows perfect for wade fishing and drifting.
Although the fishing on Rufus has slowed down a little in general, this is the time of the year to connect with those double-digit triploids. Fishing was excellent near Bridgeport and between Seaton Grove and the first net pens last weekend.
Kokanee limits on Koocanusa in Montana have been raised to 50 a day with 100 in possession, said Randie Burch at Koocanusa Resort and Marina, but no one is fishing for them. Bull trout season is closed until June 1. Ling Cod fishing has just opened back up.
Two friends and I fished a narrow bay on Lake Roosevelt from shore in the vicinity of Hansen Harbor this week, catching 12 fat rainbow 15-20 inches. Most came on marshmallows and nightcrawler sandwiches.
There are plenty of fish and lots of shore access in the Quincy Wildlife Area lakes. Lenore, however, had still not shed its ice cap at midweek. A good option for fly anglers is Lenice and Nunnally, which produced well on the opener.
Rocky Ford Creek near Ephrata continues to provide excellent fly fishing for large rainbow. It gets crowed on weekends.
Steelhead and salmon
Fishery managers are forecasting nearly 100,000 Chinook salmon across Lower Granite Dam on their return to Idaho this year. Fish and Game anticipates opening some stretches of river that haven’t seen a salmon season in 30 years. Seasons this year may include Chinook fishing on the upper Salmon River. The last time anglers could fish for Chinook in the Sawtooth Valley was in 1977.
Steelhead fishing on the entire Snake River system has slowed this past week and many fish are getting dark. Guided anglers on the Clearwater are still averaging a fish a day, but free-lancers are putting in an average of 20 hours per fish. The river was up some and had a little color at midweek. Keep an eye on the weather.
The Grande Ronde was running at 3,740 at midweek with 2 feet of visibility. Indications were the water was dropping. Fishing has been outstanding at times recently.
Starting Sunday, the Columbia River spring chinook fishery will get under way upriver from the west power lines on Hayden Island.
The Wind River and Drano Lake open for spring chinook fishing Sunday. Drano is expected to have a run of 36,800 spring chinook this year. That would be a record, topping the return of 20,600 fish in 2002. Fishing will likely start slow because only 14 spring chinook have been counted at Bonneville Dam during the last week.
The shoreline outside the mouth of Drano Lake will be open for bank fishing for the first time in 30 years. Anglers fishing the newly opened bank are asked to follow three rules: Don’t cross the highway, don’t trespass over the railroad tracks and don’t interfere with tribal fisheries.
Chinook anglers trolling plugs or herring in the top 30 feet are having good luck on the north end of Coeur d’Alene.
Walleye anglers are having some good days up the Spokane Arm in the vicinity of Porcupine Bay. Mostly male fish are being caught there, and some nice females at the mouth. Watch out for the sand bars.
Rufus Woods water is still cold, but the walleye bite is picking up. The best fishing is when the water is moving.
Smallmouth bass are started to hit on the Snake River. Work the slow water with small plastics. Bass anglers are also catching some nice catfish in the lower river.
Banks Lake is still frozen, but the ice has become weak. Two anglers fishing for whitefish went through Monday night.
Smelt and bobber fishermen on Lake Coeur d’Alene are trying their luck as the ice leaves the bays. Wolf Lodge and Cougar Bays have seen quite a bit of activity.
Eloika Lake still had good ice at midweek, as did Newman Lake. Perch and sunfish are the most common fish caught, but there is always the possibility of a Newman Lake angler tying into a big tiger muskie. Newman Lake Resort and Marina is under new ownership and numerous improvements are planned.
The lingcod fishery starts Saturday in marine areas 1-3, south of Cape Alava. The minimum size for lingcod in these three areas is 22 inches. In Marine Area 2 (Westport/Ocean Shores), recreational fishing for rockfish or lingcod is not allowed in waters deeper than 30 fathoms from Saturday through June 15.