Fly fishermen are having some success either swinging leeches or nymphing with egg patterns for Grande Ronde steelhead, Sean Visintainer at Silver Bow Fly Shop said. He also said Rocky Ford is still productive, though not spectacular, and a fair number of big trout are hitting burly attractor-type dry flies like the Stimulator.
Rock Lake, which has been good for the hardware and plug angler, is also a good bet for fly fishermen. Trolling streamers has been effective.
Trout and kokanee
With luck, spectacular rainbow fishing is just around the corner, because it’s pretty pathetic now. Lake Roosevelt has been stingy of late. The water was dropping last week, but it came quite a ways back up again and is holding steady. Shore and boat anglers are complaining about the lack of action, though there have been a few fish caught from Spring Canyon and along the can line at the dam. Some of the popular spots such as Jones Bay are still impossible to get to because of snow and ice.
Rufus Woods, where it was ridiculously easy to catch fish last year at this time, is pretty much dead. I fished there six hours Sunday on a flat pool with three friends, and the total for the boat was one bite and one fish – a 51/2- pound triploid taken on a white Hootchie and nightcrawler. The fish checker at the Seaton Grove launch said he had checked 15 fish for 15 boats and found no walleye. Downstream near Chief Joseph Dam isn’t any better. Cold water is being blamed for angler woes.
You can catch trout at Sprague, if you don’t mind putting in four hours per bite. I visited with a former Sprague Lake angler this week, who said he wouldn’t fish Sprague because the trout tasted like mud. I don’t know which Sprague he was fishing, but the fish I have eaten from the one just west of Spokane are firm, red-meated and delectable.
Rock Lake is the bright spot for trout anglers. Anglers trolling plugs and flies are catching fish all day, mostly rainbow. The fish have been hanging at 20-25 feet.
Steelhead and salmon
Columbia River steelhead anglers are out in force on the upper Columbia River, and conditions are ideal. Boat and bank fishermen should have excellent fishing below Wells Dam, particularly from or near the bar below the dam.
Another hot spot for steelhead is along the docks and shore at Pateros. There have been no reports on the Methow bite, and the Okanogan is just beginning to lose its ice. Once they start up, both should provide good fishing through the month.
Bobber fishermen above Little Goose Dam and below the fish hatchery are catching steelhead, Verna Foley at Darver Tackle said. She said the mouth of the Tucannon can be good, and that other stretches of the Tucannon will also produce fish if you know where to go. There is a lot of private water on the Tucannon. To stay out of trouble, Darver suggested stopping at her store in Starbuck and getting detailed directions.
Steelhead fishing, which was hot on the Clearwater last week, cooled off on Saturday when I got there. There were hundreds of anglers on the water, but I saw only three fish all day – two of which were caught in the pool right below Dworshak Dam. Reports are the fishing picked up again on Sunday, but counts were more average for this time of year. I was busy getting skunked at Rufus.
The ice remains good at Eastern Washington and North Idaho lakes. Small pike seem to be abundant at the mouth of the St. Joe, and it sometimes seems you can catch small perch all day at Cocolalla. Fernan and Gamble perch are larger, but you won’t catch nearly as many.
Close to Spokane, Silver Lake is still booting out 6- to 8-inch perch. Eloika is giving up a mixed bag, mostly perch of 6-9 inches and a lot of bass. Friends and I fished Eloika for just a few hours Tuesday and released three bass longer than 15 inches. The perch bite has slowed, with small windows of wild action followed by three hours of nothing.
At Banks Lake, perch anglers are finding fish in 25-30 feet of water in Osborne Bay and near the Punchbowl. At Coulee Playland Resort, Dave Altier said many anglers fish too shallow for Banks Lake perch.
Kettle Falls walleye were not as easy to catch this week, but jiggers had fair success for some good-sized fish in the Two Rivers area. The north shore of the Snake between Little Goose Dam and the hatchery was kicking out a walleye now and then. Rufus hasn’t turned on yet.
A few ling are still being caught at Bead Lake, but most anglers pick up and go home when it gets dark, and the best fishing has been at night.
At the Coulee City end of Banks, whitefish are coming through the ice. Success is coming on small jigs such as the Swedish Pimple baited with real or imitation maggots or perch eyes. Banks is frozen all the way across again, but it would be prudent to stick to the bays for all fishing.