Salmon and steelhead
Steelhead fishing remains good on the Clearwater and all its tributaries, with hours-per- fish ranging from seven to 10. The Snake River is a little slower, with the upper water best. A few fish are coming off the wall at Little Goose.
Fishing has been slow on the Columbia near Brewster. Female fish are beginning to turn and becoming somewhat soft.
There was floating ice at midweek at Boggan’s Oasis on the Grande Ronde, but temperatures were warming and the river was expected to be clear by the weekend. There was no rain in sight.
Some anglers are anxiously awaiting Sunday’s salmon-fishing opener in Marine Area 7 (San Juan Islands). In the last few years, the San Juans have been the site of one of the more reliable blackmouth fisheries in Puget Sound
Sprague Lake trout fishing is slow, but the fish are all more than 15 inches and they make good table fare. The best bite has been early.
You can probably have Hog Canyon all to yourself, if you don’t mind walking in. The crust was hard enough at midweek to support a hiker without snowshoes. Fourth of July continues to disappoint, with many anglers saying it is the worst they have seen in 15 years.
Lake Roosevelt trollers are dragging the usual Muddlers and flashers near the surface for action on 17- to 24-inch rainbow. Bank fishing is good at times near Seven Bays, Lincoln and Fort Spokane.
Ice fishing for rainbow trout on Roses Lake near Chelan is good early and late in the day. Also in the Chelan area, Fish Lake is giving up 9- to 14-inch rainbow and a lot of perch.
Rufus Woods bank fishermen throwing bait seemed to be doing better than the boat fishermen this week. Purple jigs have also been taking their share of the 3- to 6-pound triploids. If you do fish from a boat, go deeper than usual, as a lot of fish seem to be holding in 30 feet of water.
Lake Chelan has been excellent this past week for lake trout. Guide Joe Heinlen of Darrell and Dad’s Guide Service said he has been targeting the area above the Yacht Club in depths down to 350 feet. Last Saturday, his boat netted 16 fish, with two more than 14 pounds. Info: (509) 393-9665
Mirror Lake in the Idaho Panhandle near Coeur d’Alene is giving up rainbow and brook trout. For kokanee, Spirit Lake offers fast fishing for 8- to 10-inch fish (limit 15) or Twin Lake for 12-inch fish (limit six).
The walleye bite continues around Kettle Falls. There have been reports of furious fishing with jigs in 25-35 feet of water. The Kettle Falls boat ramp is useable.
Walleye are beginning to show more and more frequently at Rufus Woods, and on the Snake River near Lyons Ferry. The Columbia River bite is also starting up.
Though the fish are relatively small, ice fishermen are taking lots of perch just off the public access at Silver Lake. The access has not been plowed, however, and parking is limited.
Eloika Lake remains one of the closest perch destinations from Spokane. The midday hours can sometimes be dead, but when the bite turns on, you can put 20 fish on the ice in no time. On a trip this week, my friends and I caught a mixed bag that included perch, bass, sunfish, crappie, bullheads and brown trout.
Waitts Lake perch have been difficult to find, with more trout than perch caught the last two weeks. The public access has recently been plowed, or you can pay $2 and park at Waitts Lake Resort, the last resort on the northeast end.
Newman Lake ice anglers are finding the usual small perch and sunfish, but also a few nice crappie. The public access has not been plowed, but parking is allowed at Newman Lake Marina, which, incidentally, is for sale again.
Oddly, there’s not much fishing taking place on the big waters in the Columbia Basin. At Mike’s Bait and Tackle in Moses Lake, Mike Graham said that on a drive around 15 area lakes Monday he only encountered three ice anglers. No one was on any of the seep lakes except Soda and Long, where a few perch were coming in.
If you’re after larger perch, you many have to go to Idaho. The shallow bays of Pend Oreille Lake can be phenomenal for 12-inch fish, particularly near the Long Bridge at Sandpoint and at Sunnyside. This is a hit-or-miss fishery in 2-4 feet of water. If the schools move in things get crazy, but you can catch 50 one day and nothing the next.
Another Idaho destination for large perch is Gamble Lake. Fishing here is generally slow, but big perch and some bass make it worthwhile. Blue Lake by Priest River has 10- to 11-inch perch. Try Round and Fernan lakes for medium-sized perch, other panfish and some trout; Cocolalla for small perch; and Avondale and Shepherd for mostly bluegill. Many of these lakes are best in the late afternoon for perch, with a crappie bite beginning just after dark.
Pike anglers in Idaho are hitting Cave and Medicine lakes and catching quite a few 3- to 8-pound fish as well as a lot of smaller ones. Smelt or herring under tip ups in 3-10 feet of water will do the trick. Pike are also being caught at Chatcolet Lake.
Palmer Lake near Oroville is producing good catches of freshwater ling averaging 5 pounds.
With bird and big game seasons over, area hunters will have to make do chasing cottontail and snowshoe rabbits or coyotes. The rabbit population does not appear to be particularly large this year, but coyotes aren’t in short supply.
With the breeding season approaching, they are a lot more vocal, and the recent cold snap keeps them on the prowl almost constantly as they search for food.