March 13, 2009 in Outdoors

Hunting and fishing

By The Spokesman-Review

Tip of the week

 A small Kast Master spoon and a Mack’s Glo Hook can be combined to make an excellent ice- fishing rig. Tie the hookless Kast Master to the line, add 6 inches of mono, tie the Glo Hook to this, and sweeten with a perch eye or maggot. The Kast Master provides both the weight and the flash.

Braggin’ rights

 Just when I thought ice fishing was over for the year, friends Mike Sweeney and Jerry Hawkins of Spokane took 112 fat perch in four hours at Eloika Lake this week. They were fishing the northwest end of the lake and said the ice was 18 inches thick.


 The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission recently approved purchase of 423 acres of critical mule deer range south of Twisp, adjacent to the Golden Doe unit of WDFW’s Methow Wildlife Area. The acquisition will protect wildlife habitat and improve recreational opportunity and access to the area.

Heads up

 The Inland Northwest Wildlife Council’s 49th annual Bighorn Outdoor Adventure Show runs Thursday through March 22, at the Spokane Fair and Expo Center. The event features vendors, guides and nonprofit exhibitors, as well as activities for children, including a fishing pond, shooting gallery and archery range.

•Ice anglers at Winchester Lake near Lewiston are warned that the water level could drop by as much as 2 feet because of maintenance work on the dam spillway. This could leave an air gap between the water surface and the ice, making the ice unstable.

•The 19th annual Smoker Craft Spring Walleye Classic will be held March 28-29 out of Umatilla, Ore. Because of a huge computer glitch, most of the mailing addresses were lost and most anglers didn’t receive flyers. For an online entry form, go to

•Two sections on the Okanogan River – from 100 feet below the Highway 155 Bridge to the mouth of Omak Creek, and from the mouth of Bonaparte Creek to 100 feet below the mouth of Bonaparte Creek – will close to steelhead fishing Sunday until further notice.

Fly fishing

The Coeur d’Alene River is kicking out a few cutthroat and some whitefish, particularly from Cataldo to just past Kingston. As with the Clark Fork, which has also given up a few trout, nymphs are best.

Rocky Ford is hot some days and stingy others, but action comes most consistently on scuds. Rob Harbin of Moses Lake recently had an eight-fish day on 5- and 6-pounders. He said he was broken off several times by larger fish.

Steelhead and salmon

Steelhead catch rates were good last week on the Clearwater River, with the lower river below the Orofino Bridge having the best hours-per-fish ratio. Similar success was found on the North and South Fork Clearwater.

The Grande Ronde was running at 2,520 cfs at midweek. Bill Vail at Boggan’s Oasis said steelhead fishing should remain excellent through Saturday. Rain is predicted for today, which could make the river unfishable beginning Sunday. Vail said Grande Ronde fish are in excellent shape still.

Ice is beginning to clear out at the mouth of the Okanogan and steelhead will soon be racing for the upper reaches. This is a good time to be on the river. The Methow is low and clear, but anglers are taking a few fish.

Boat anglers on The Dalles and John Day pools are catching some steelhead. Bank anglers in the John Day Pool are also taking a few.

Effective Monday through April 30, fishing for salmon, steelhead and shad is open seven days per week on the mainstream Columbia River from the Tower Island power line in Bonneville Pool upstream to McNary Dam. The Washington bank between Bonneville Dam and the Tower Island power lines will also be open.

Lake Coeur d’Alene chinook are cruising shallow water this time of year. At Fins and Feathers, Jeff Smith said this is the one time of year you can catch these landlocked salmon without a downrigger. Most bites recently have been on herring in 14-21 feet of water in Rockford, East Point and Powderhorn bays.

Trout and kokanee

There is open water at Liberty Lake, and anglers from shore and boat are catching a lot of brown trout. Deer Lake is still ice-covered and relatively inaccessible to the general public. A few trout have been taken recently. Downs Lake is scheduled for a plant of catchables soon. A few carryover fish of 14 inches have been taken, but the perch bite has not materialized. Skim ice covered the lake Thursday, but a boat could easily break through.

Rock Lake continues to give up big catches of trout, mostly browns. The fish seem to be spread out from end to end and side to side. While most Rock Lake browns weigh a couple of pounds, an 11-pounder was caught there late last week. Rapala plugs are the ticket.

Amber Lake is still a good bet for catch-and-release ice fishing for trout. No bait is allowed, but small spoons and crappie-type jigs will entice hits from 16- to 20-inch fish.

Rufus Woods Reservoir fishing has improved somewhat but hasn’t approached the phenomenal action experienced at this time last year. Some blame the flat water, others the cold temperatures. Whatever the reason, the fish haven’t left. There have been reports of anglers making good catches of 4- to 10-pound triploids by dunking cluster eggs just off the net pens in 50 feet of water.

All of the Quincy Lakes were ice free at midweek, but fishing hasn’t been particularly good.

If you plan on fishing the small lakes in northern Idaho this weekend, Smith of Fins and Feathers suggested “bring a tall, young guy with you” to run the ice auger. He said the ice on most lakes has firmed up and is 18-20 inches thick. At Spirit Lake, ice fishermen are catching 15-fish limits of small kokanee.

Spiny ray

The walleye bite on Lake Roosevelt has been decent, particularly in Porcupine Bay. No big fish have been reported, but there are enough 18- to 20-inchers to make for an enjoyable day on the water. Friends who fished the narrows near China Bend last weekend said the water is so high there is nearly no current. They didn’t get a bite all day.

Reports are that some really big crappie are coming through the ice at Coffeepot Lake. Try the same curly-tailed or tube jigs you’d use in the spring under a bobber.

The ice on the Coulee City Marina on Banks Lake has firmed up again and anglers are catching a few perch. The big ones haven’t really shown. There is a lot of ice-fishing action on Banks in the channel between Goose Island and the jetty, with some anglers staying out all night. Rosie Ristine at Big Wallys said they are catching a mixed bag consisting primarily of whitefish.

Potholes and Moses Lake have lost most of their ice, but the walleye bite hasn’t begun. A few small walleyes have been landed at Lind Coulee.

Other species

A three-day dig for razor clams has been tentatively scheduled on morning tides March 27-29 at Twin Harbors and Mocrocks, provided that marine toxin tests show the clams are safe to eat. A two-day dig will run at Long Beach and Copalis March 28-29.

Although some recent nasty weather is keeping anglers off the ocean jetties, fishing for seas perch should be hitting its stride at Ilwaco.

You can contact Alan Liere by e-mail at

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