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Hunting and fishing

Salmon and steelhead

Clearwater River steelhead anglers found the water stained and high but fishable, particularly below Orofino, where guide Toby Wyatt of Reeltime Fishing reported his boats caught 25 on Wednesday. Good weather is forecast for the area, so the river should continue to clear and drop.

The Grande Ronde is coming slowly into shape, Bill Vail at Boggan’s Oasis said. No one has been fishing because of the high water, so there has to be a lot of fish in the river. Vail said the river should provide some good steelheading, possibly as soon as late in the weekend.

The steelheading near Bridgeport has been good and is holding up well with nice-sized fish. The bobber and jig combo is taking most fish in this colder water. Anglers are still taking steelhead just above Rocky Reach Dam near Wenatchee, and both below and above Wells Dam, the bite is picking up. There are a number of holes near Pateros where steelhead hold through the cold months.

Trout and kokanee

Three friends and I fished from shore at Keller Ferry this week, but we didn’t have a bite in six hours. Boat fishermen, however, did much better trolling Muddlers tipped with nightcrawler on the entire lower end of the reservoir. There were reports of limits with several fish more than 20 inches, including kokanee to 2.5 pounds. Anglers targeting these, which a biologist said are native fish, are trolling pink Muddlers tipped with maggots and staying right up on top. Spring Canyon has been hot. Fish the middle and the north side. If you land a koke, get your line out again quickly, as they appear to be running in schools.

Though the ice around the edge at the public launch is pulling away a bit, anglers at Sprague Lake are finding plenty of safe ice, and some are even finding fish. Most of the activity is taking place just south of the big island. The access road into the WDFW launch was in good enough shape Tuesday for two-wheel-drive vehicles. If you try Sprague, take your ice cleats.

Down the road from Sprague, Fourth of July had nearly no anglers at midweek. The road in was passable for a two-wheel-drive vehicle and the ice was adequate. The access road to the other winter trout lake in Eastern Washington, Hog Canyon, was still gated on Tuesday.

Fishing at Rufus Woods Reservoir has become a bit tougher. The surface water temperature has dipped to less than 40 degrees, slowing the bite. Flipping black Roostertails and copper colored spoons is usually good for a couple of fish. Ice at Rat Lake in the Okanogan is a solid 10 inches and limits of 12-inch rainbow are the rule. Power Bait is a popular offering. Trout fishing at Roses Lake, near Chelan, is also good. Limits of fat rainbow can be had in less than two hours.

Pend Oreille mack fishermen are finding plenty of action near the islands. Water is low, so the best boat ramps are at Bayview and Hope.

Fly fishermen don’t have too many options this time of year with these weather conditions, but Rocky Ford always has fish. Small yellow scuds will usually entice the big rainbow.

Walleye are being caught by jiggers on the Columbia River below Wells Dam. The upper end of Rufus Woods is also getting good, and there are reports of decent fishing out of Kettle Falls, including a few more than 7 pounds. The larger fish are holding in 25-35 feet of water, and jigs are working best.

I fished Eloika Lake twice this week. On Monday, the bite was fairly consistent all day, and three of us took 75 perch and 15 bass jigging small Swedish Pimples tipped with a perch eye. Wednesday, I caught only six perch between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., though a friend took 20 in the same amount of time. When the evening bite began at 3:15, it was non-stop action until the bite suddenly died at 4:15. Included in the usual catch of perch, bass, sunfish and grass pickerel were two rainbow trout of about 13 inches each. The trick to fishing the evening bite is to have a half-dozen holes drilled in an area about as big as an average house. Move from hole to hole, never waiting longer than a minute without a bite before moving on.


Geese and ducks are open through Jan. 25, and geese in area five may be hunted every day from Monday until the end of the season. This is good news for waterfowl gunners, as geese are filtering back into the area with the moderating weather and diminishing snow pack.

On Tuesday at Sprague Lake, I saw at least 20 flocks in the air, many landing on the ice near the island. A drive through the scab land south of Sprague found many ponds partially open, with birds sitting anywhere there was water. Few ducks were observed.

Reports from the Columbia Basin indicate the big water is still frozen, but the wasteways are again holding ducks. There are lots of geese in the area. Foggy conditions all week have made waterfowl hunting frustrating, said Rob Harbin of Quackers Guide Service in Moses Lake (750-6503). He said that on non-foggy days, duck hunting has been excellent.

Pheasant, quail and partridge close Monday in Eastern Washington. With diminishing snow packs in the Palouse, bird hunters may find decent numbers of birds concentrated in brushy draws near open ground.

You can contact Alan Liere by email at spokesmanliere

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