The lower Snake is fishing well from Asotin on up. It’s best up around Pittsburg Landing. Guide Tim Johnson of FishHawk Charters said three clients hooked 17 steelhead in two days on this stretch last Friday and Saturday. On Monday, Johnson’s boat hooked seven between Asotin and halfway to Heller Bar.
The Clearwater around Orofino and above is the hot spot. Lots of limits are being taken by power and drift boats. Below Orofino, the average is one fish per 10 hours. The North and South Fork Clearwater are booting out a fish every eight hours. Paul Hoffarth, WDFW fish biologist from Pasco, reported an estimated 147 steelhead have been caught and 125 retained through Sunday in the Columbia River Ringold fishery near the Tri-Cities. Catch and harvest is picking up, he said. Bank anglers averaged one steelhead for five hours of fishing and boat anglers averaged one steelhead per eight hours of fishing.
Wild steelhead are beginning to move into several rivers on the Olympic Peninsula and into Columbia River tributaries. The Cowlitz and Kalama rivers also have late hatchery runs, which are beginning to show in the catch. Anglers are advised to review the Fishing in Washington rule pamphlet for regulations on retaining wild steelhead.
Sprague Lake anglers are concentrating their ice fishing efforts on the south side of the island, though the north side, which is slightly deeper, also yields an occasional fish. A friend and I caught one each there this week – mine on a tear-shaped green jig with a worm, his on a Swedish Pimple and red salmon egg. Both fish were more than 17 inches, but one was quite dark. The ice is good.
Water temperature at Rufus Woods is below 40 degrees and fishing is slower than normal, though the bite always seems to pick up as the lake rises. Bank anglers at the net pens near Nespelem do well at times.
Lake Roosevelt anglers are giving mixed reports. Bank fishing is slow, but trollers sometimes get in on an aggressive bite. Kokanee are coming sporadically from the top 10 feet of water on pink flies and maggots behind a small flasher.
This is the beginning of the best time of the year for consistently catching lakers of more than 10 pounds from Lake Chelan, and the trend should continue for about two months.
The ice on Fish Lake near Chelan is safe enough to fish. The shallow end of the lake near the cove has been yielding limits of trout as well as a few perch.
Ice fishing at Roses Lake near Chelan has been good, with hard ice and plenty of 12-inch rainbow. You may have to drill several holes to find concentrations of fish, but once located, they will readily hit Power Bait or crawlers near the bottom. Rat Lake near Brewster and the Green lakes near Omak also offer good fishing for rainbow trout in the 10- to 15-inch range.
Another Okanogan-area lake that is producing fish is to Patterson, near Winthrop. It holds rainbow as well as big perch. Davis Lake, in the same area, also has rainbow.
Banks Lake ice anglers have taken walleye through the ice with Glo Jigs and Gulp Minnows between Goose Island and the spillway. Boat anglers are still able to launch at Coulee Playland Resort and fish open water out from there.
A few perch are being caught on Banks by the causeway at Electric City, but the best perch and crappie fishing is at Thompson Lake, on the highway side of Steamboat Rock.
Kettle Falls walleye fishing has been good. Some big walleyes are coming in, with jigs doing most of the damage. Walleye fishing is picking up all over the system.
Eloika Lake can be frustrating at times. Ice fishing for perch and bass was excellent last weekend, but much slower during this week. The evening bite, which was almost automatic at Eloika last week, has been inconsistent. Swedish Pimples (green or white inserts) baited with maggots or perch eyes will outfish anything.
Rose Lake in the Idaho Panhandle has been slow for pike. Pan fishermen are moving around a lot to find concentrations. At Fernan, anglers fishing close to the public access and directly across are catching an occasional small pike. Perch angling is slow and the fish are small.
Evening razor clam digs are tentatively scheduled at Twin Harbors, Copalis and Mocrocks on Feb. 6-8 and at Long Beach on Feb. 7-8. WDFW will give the final word on those digs once marine toxin tests have been completed on those beaches.
Jim Cummins, WDFW fish biologist from Yakima, said whitefish anglers will find rivers in the best shape of the season, because the ice or high flows that limited safe or productive fishing are now gone. “This might be the best time to get out and try fishing for whitefish,” he said. Anglers must use one single-pointed hook, maximum hook size 3/16-inch from point to shank (hook size 14). There is no minimum size on whitefish, but the daily catch limit is 15.
This is the last weekend for waterfowl hunting in Washington, but the last days should be productive in the north Columbia Basin, said WDFW private lands wildlife biologist John Cotton. “The cornfield adjacent to the Winchester Quality Hunt ponds in Grant County was loaded with mallards,” he said.
Unfortunately, waterfowl hunters northeast of the Columbia Basin got a narrow window of opportunity for open-water hunts on scab land ponds before they refroze this week. Geese, which seemed to be everywhere last week in the Sprague area, have evidently returned to the Columbia River.
Hunters may purchase and submit applications for a 2009 Washington spring black bear hunting permit, applicable to specific areas of western and eastern Washington. To be eligible for a permit, hunters must purchase and submit an application to WDFW by midnight March 13. Hunting licenses, bear transport tags and bear permit applications may be purchased online at fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov/, by calling (866) 246-9453, or at any license vendor in the state. Special permit applications, which require a correct hunt choice number, may be submitted online at fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov/ or by calling (877) 945-3492.