Lenice and Nunnally are both producing the best fishing in years, with many large ’bows showing. Lenore is getting better each day.
The Clark Fork, the Joe and the Coeur d’Alene are running high but dropping, and this often means excellent fishing. Skwalas and March browns are hatching as well as some nymphs to midday.
Fly fishermen are catching Hayden Lake crappie by locating schools in 6-12 feet of water. The occasional northern pike provides an artery-clearing surge on light crappie gear.
Trout and kokanee
The top lakes for Inland Empire anglers on Saturday’s opener were Spokane County’s Williams (five fish per angler) and Badger (3.93 fish per angler). Okanogan County’s Pearrygin Lake (4.86 fish per angler) and Cedar Lake (3.95 fish per angler) in Stevens County, were also excellent.
Williams Lake was undoubtedly the best opening-day lake in the state. Limits were a sure thing with rainbow and cutthroat 10-17 inches as well as a lot of larger carryovers and some huge broodstock. The method didn’t seem to matter.
Nearby Fishtrap Lake was not as productive as on opening days past. Rainbow ranged from 8 inches to 5 pounds.
Badger Lake trout ran consistently larger than in almost any other lake. There were plenty of “dinks,” but it was not impossible to take home a limit of rainbow more than 15 inches.
Fish Lake anglers reported more brook trout than tiger trout. Trolling spoons was the ticket for 12- to 15-inchers.
Clear Lake anglers did quite well with lots of 10- to 13-inchers and a fair number of carryovers to 20. Both spoons and bait were effective. Needle Fish trolled just below the surface accounted for a lot of trout.
West Medical Lake had one of its poorest openers, giving up less than a half fish per angler. The trout there were 12-15 inches.
Sprague Lake trout are consistently the largest in the state. Although it is sometimes hard to find them, hooking one is like tying into a coho salmon. Last week, I watched three anglers get skunked while fishing from shore while the two fellows next to them caught seven beauties.
Rock Lake is muddy and the boat launch was empty last Tuesday.
In Pend Oreille County, Diamond Lake anglers averaged about a fish per angler. Fan Lake was slower.
In Stevens County, anglers at Deep and Rocky lakes caught about three fish each. At Waitts Lake, the fishing was not quite as good, but at nearby Jump-Off Joe, there were reports of good catches. A lot of the trout were only 6-8 inches, but numerous browns more than 20 inches were landed.
Loon Lake was slower than usual for opening-day trout, but some big brood stock as well as 18-inch carryovers sweetened a few catches. At least four mackinaw in excess of 12 pounds were landed opening day. With the ice just barely off, Loon mack fishing should stay good for a few more weeks.
As they thaw out, good fishing is available at Starvation and Rocky lakes near Colville. They both have lots of 10-to 11-inch and 12- to 14-inch rainbow from past fry plants.
Lake Ellen, north of Inchelium in the Colville National Forest, was treated last fall to get rid of sunfish and bass and has received 9,000 rainbow trout measuring 8-12 inches.
Clear and Wapato Lake in Chelan County gave up close to three fish per angler. Jameson Lake in Douglas County was a bust despite predictions of better fishing.
In Grant County, Blue, Deep, Park, Perch and Warden all averaged around three trout per angler. Okanogan’s Pearrygin Lake was phenomenal, and Conconully Lake wasn’t far behind. The area between the state park and Shady Pines Resort was the hot spot. The Leader Lake average was 3.5 fish per angler.
Lake Roosevelt trout continue to confound and frustrate most anglers. The best success has been in the top 20 feet of water on the Punk Rocker fly developed by guide Ray Bailey of R/C Guide Service in Davenport.
Priest Lake mackinaw anglers say they are not finding fish in the usual spots off points and rocky outcroppings, but they are still boating a few while trolling or jigging. Eventually, the fish will migrate back to their usual haunts
The good news for Idaho anglers is that few chinook were caught on the lower Columbia and the season closes today. When the fish finally arrive, there should be lots of them. The Snake is high, but it should be in shape by the time the fish get there. Mid-May to mid-June should be prime time on the Clearwater.
Coeur d’Alene’s shallow chain lakes are providing excellent crappie fishing. Black, Swan, Cave and Rose have been hot, and Fernan is also good. At Fins and Feathers, Jeff Smith said the Screw Grub, a jig similar to the Rattail, is selling as fast as he gets them in, but small Rapalas are also working.
Coeur d’Alene pike are spawning so the bite is off, but they recover quickly and fishing should get good again soon. In the meantime, small lipless cranks and jerk baits are accounting for some big smallmouth.
Liberty Lake docks are sheltering bass, and some are even being caught on deep water break lines. Bass fishing should improve dramatically in the next week
Eloika Lake bass are beginning to hit and keeper crappie are showing. The perch fishing is picking up again now that the spawn is over. Another lake for crappie is Banks, where the area near Steamboat Rock by the poplars is harboring lots of 9- to 11-inch prespawn fish. The fish are holding just above weed patches. Bass fishing on Banks has also been good, and walleye are waking up.
The application period for this fall’s Idaho deer, elk, pronghorn and black bear controlled hunts starts today, and runs through June 5.