The region’s rivers went ballistic after last weekend’s heat wave and the subsequent rainstorms. Here’s some fodder for thought:
Crab Creek’s Irby gauge shows the river was only marginally affected, the flow dropping from 48 cfs on Sunday to 42 on Thursday.
Coeur d’Alene River has dropped from 9,100 cfs on Tuesday to 5,800 Thursday, still high, but with a few possibilities.
Snake River on Thursday started a downward trend with some clearing.
Pend Oreille River is on an upward trend, increasing from 41,400 cfs on Tuesday to 47,000 on Thursday.
Lake Roosevelt’s pool level is being raised quickly. The level was elevation 1,261 feet Thursday. The Bureau of Reclamation’s target is 1,273 by May 31.
Go figure. Then go catch a fish.
“If people insist on going to rivers this week, I’d recommend throwing something big and hairy in the softer pocket water off seams,” said Jon Allan of Silver bow Fly Shop. “The rivers have stabilized this week, but some are still off-color.”
The Clark Fork River is toast for a while, but salmonflies are showing on the St. Regis and Thompson rivers, said Brooks Sanford at Clark Fork Trout & Tackle in St. Regis.
Lake reports are a mixed bag.
“Amber has been slow this week, and it doesn’t make sense,” Allan said. “The weed growth isn’t that high. It could change with more stable weather.”
One of Allan’s friends said he might catch five or six trout out of Medical Lake one day and not get a bite the next day.
“I’d still recommend using chironomids and damselfly nymphs,” he said.
Coffee Pot has produced good fishing on some days, including one stellar report from an angler hooking big rainbows on Chromies.
McDowell Lake continues to fish well for anglers who dial in the depth where fish are feeding.
Trout and kokanee
Kokanee fishing was so bad at Lake Koocanusa last week, Lenny Mayo of Seven Bays didn’t even fish the second day of a derby. “They were about 6-7 inches long and their bellies weren’t even filled out,” he said.
Lake Roosevelt trout and kokanee fishing is “all muddled up” with the lake level rising,” Mayo said.
Dworshak fishing is fair for kokanee, which seem too have moved up from 60 feet to 30 feet this week, according to Idaho Fish and Game reports.
Lake’s Coeur d’Alene’s best kokanee fishing is south of East Point. Loon Lake’s kokanee are around 11 inches.
Williams and Badger are still hot spots for trout anglers, as are Cedar and Starvation, the top producers in the northeast.
Lake Rufus Woods was spiced Thursday with more than 4,000 triploid rainbows running about 1.5 pounds, courtesy of the Colville Tribe.
Colville Reservation lakes shouldn’t be overlooked. Buffalo Lake is producing rainbows running 1.5 pounds and kokanee 8-11 inches. Word is out, though. All cabins at Reynolds Resort were booked well in advance for this holiday weekend.
Lake Pend Oreille’s warming surface temperatures have improved the rainbow bite this week, according to several reports. Anglers have been hitting fish trolling Apex lures off planer boards in around 20 feet of water or long-lining near the surface.
Priest Lake mackinaw fishing is steady, Lonnie Osterholm of Priest Lake Guide Service said.
(But he said he’s heading down to catch spring chinook near Hanford this weekend.)
“Really, it’s always good,” he said. “If you have downriggers, use them, right on the bottom. Jigging is good any time of year when the wind doesn’t preventing you from getting the lure down.”
Spring chinook anglers had excellent success on the Clearwater last week, harvesting more than 500 hatchery adults, mostly in the lower river.
After Monday evening, all adult hatchery-raised chinook must be released on the Clearwater River between Lewiston and Cherrylane. However, anglers will still be allowed to keep jacks – chinooks less than 24 inches – on the lower section of the river.
Banks Lake was host to a walleye tournament last week. Washington bass clubs take over this weekend for a three-day tournament out of Coulee Playland.
Walleye winners went to the north end of the lake to catch their limits of five fish in the 17-inch range, tournament director and fishing guide Gordon Steinmetz said. “Then they came back south to cast jigs on the sunken islands to upgrade the size of their fish in the last hour of each day.”
The tournament’s big fish, a 10.12-pounder caught by Jim Donelan of Spokane, probably weighed 14 or 15 pounds a month ago, Steinmetz said. “It was 34 inches and a beautiful fish,” he said.
Shad Raps and other crankbaits have been catching walleyes in the Devil’s Punchbowl this week, and anglers have used smile blades in 45-50 feet of water to catch walleyes off the point across from Coulee Playland, he said.
Pend Oreille River sloughs are finally flooded and producing good fishing. Art Acuff of Spokane Valley caught 10 bass in two days totaling 36 pounds to win the Inland Empire Bass Club’s tournament last weekend out of Blueslide.
Smallmouth anglers had to keep moving to keep catching fish earlier this week at Lake Coeur d’Alene, Jeff Smith at Fins and Feathers Sport Shop said. “They haven’t spawned yet, and the big ones ought to be easier to catch than they have been,” he said, noting that his largest on Thursday was a 4-pounder, but most were 1-2 pounds.
Smith recommends lipless crankbaits or jerk baits in about 8 feet of water off points and along some banks.
The lower Coeur d’Alene River chain lakes have been his most productive fisheries. “When you head down there you need to take all of your rods because there’s a little of everything,” he said.
The water has come up, improving the crappie fishing in lakes such as Black, Anderson, Blue and Swan, he said. Higher water has lured most largemouth bass into the grass and brush where they’ll fall to flipping jigs or rubber worms and lizards rigged weedless.
Dworshak Reservoir bassing will improve with warmer weather, but Idaho Fish and Game reports a couple of 6-pounders weighed this week.
Pike and muskies
Warmer water is boosting the bite of the area’s northern pike from the Coeur d’Alene chain lakes to the Pend Oreille River, where more than a few tournament bass anglers reported losing their lures last weekend to pike strikes.
Tiger Musky tournaments are scheduled May 30 at Silver Lake and May 31 at Newman Lake and Curlew Lakes.