Lake Roosevelt rainbow have been tough to find, but district fish biologist Chris Donley said fishing should take off any time now. “We may have lost some fish last year in the big runoff, but there are plenty in the reservoir,” he said. “As the water is drawn down, they will be concentrated between Keller and the dam.”
Bear Lake on Highway 2 north of Spokane is reserved for juveniles (younger than 15), adults fishing with juveniles and for people with disabilities. It is largely overlooked in the winter, but it has a fair population of perch and trout. Ice anglers had some recent morning success in the middle of the lake on trout just 10 feet below the surface.
Anglers tossing bait from shore on the Pend Oreille River have made some nice rainbow catches and are also picking up a few northern pike east of Newport in Idaho.
Some 16- to 18-inch trout and a few walleye are slamming baited hooks just below Little Falls. In the past, some large brown trout have been taken from the area in the spring.
A number of Washington lakes open Sunday. Downs Lake in southwest Spokane County, Liberty Lake east of Spokane and Medical Lake (not West Medical) will be open, but not ice-free. Downs and Liberty, which are noted for populations of spiny ray in addition to trout, were frozen hard at midweek. Access may be a problem.
Also opening Sunday are Amber Lake in southwest Spokane County for catch-and-release of rainbow and cutthroat trout; Coffeepot Lake in Lincoln County for rainbows, perch and crappie under selective-gear rules; North Silver Lake in southwest Spokane County for rainbows under selective-gear rules and a requirement to release adipose-fin-clipped fish; and Deer Lake in southern Stevens County.
Deer has a variety of trout, including lake trout, and also spiny ray. It was covered with hard ice with standing water on top at midweek and might be fishable if you can find access. Most of the property around the lake is privately owned, and the public launch area has no parking because of the large snow berms.
In the south end of the region where winter is fading faster, the seven impoundments off the Tucannon River on WDFW’s Wooten Wildlife Area in Columbia County that open to fishing Sunday have open water stocked with hatchery rainbow trout. Stocking has been reduced, said WDFW southeast district fish biologist Glen Mendel, because the lakes are losing depth and volume and need to be re-dredged. He said some have dam maintenance issues.
Many Columbia Basin lakes open to rainbow trout fishing Sunday, but persistent wintry conditions will likely delay angling action. “There’s a good chance most Columbia Basin lakes will still be iced up for the opener,” said Jeff Korth, WDFW regional fish program manager. “At this point, the one exception is the north end of Martha Lake, which is already open and should provide good fishing right from the start of the season.”
Besides Martha Lake, near the town of George in Grant County, other Columbia Basin lakes opening Sunday on WDFW’s Quincy Wildlife Area include Burke and Quincy, southwest of the town of Quincy; Upper, Lower and West Caliche, southwest of George; Dusty, a selective-gear rule fishery south of Quincy; and the small “walk-in” lakes – Cascade, Cliff, Crystal, Cup, Dot, George and Spring.
Lenice and Nunnally lakes, on WDFW’s Crab Creek Wildlife Area just east of Beverly in southwest Grant County, open under selective-gear rules Sunday but won’t receive triploid rainbow plants until April. Much smaller Merry Lake in the same area also opens Sunday.
Lake Lenore, north of the town of Soap Lake in Grant County, opens for catch-and-release trout fishing Sunday. Because of its location in a north-south canyon, Korth said Lenore will almost surely still be iced up for the opener this year. Two- to 4-pound Lahontan cutthroat trout will be caught and released there by April.
Fishhook Pond in Walla Walla County and Pampa Pond in Whitman County also open on Sunday for stocked rainbow fishing.
Steelhead and salmon
The Grande Ronde has been fishing well but would benefit from some rain and some warmer water. Clearwater steelhead have been moody. “I wouldn’t spend more than an hour in any one hole,” said WDFW biologist Donley. “If you haven’t had a bite in an hour, move on. You can always come back. Usually, they will bite in spurts, and your objective is to be there when it turns on.”
Steelhead anglers are taking fish on bobbers and jigs from Bridgeport all the way down to Rocky Reach Dam. The bar below Wells Dam offers the best shore fishing for steelhead on the upper Columbia.
Lake Coeur d’Alene was good to Frank Whitney and Skipper Bill Bongers of Spokane last Sunday. Fishing midlake, they hooked six chinook and boated four. The largest was 9.3 pounds, two were 8 pounds and the smallest was 4.2 pounds.
There should be enough open holes to make an ice auger unnecessary at Eloika Lake this week – a good thing, because even with the warming weather, there are 18 inches of ice under the slop. Fishing for perch has been erratic, with the most consistent bite early.
Silver Lake is the same as last week – plenty of ice, small perch and an early bite. Most fishing is concentrated close to the public access in fairly deep water, but a friend had some luck recently fishing in 5 feet of water near the highway.
Spokane resident Greg Cozza and his daughter Mellisa fished Idaho’s Cocolalla Lake this week for perch. He described a “red-hot bite” for medium-sized fish, but noted that many had tiny, dark, oval worms just under the skin. He said the fish hit perch eyeballs most aggressively.
Porcupine Bay in Lake Roosevelt has been the site of some good walleye catches. Jigs and worms in 30-50 feet of water have proven effective. At Kettle Falls, anglers fishing white jigs are netting the most fish.