The Yakima River is providing great winter action for anglers floating the canyon. Double nymph rigs are effective.
Trollers dragging black flies on leaded line report good success for rainbows and browns along Rock Lake shorelines. According to reports, fish have been rising.
Trout and kokanee
Two friends and I fished the Hawk Creek area of Lake Roosevelt Tuesday, but the trout weren’t exactly jumping in the boat. We trolled five hours, catching 14 chunky rainbow and one 16-inch kokanee, then spent another hour to no avail trying to get that last rainbow. Rippin’ Minnows fished on four colors of leaded line accounted for most of the fish, but several also hit a fly and worm behind a flasher. The fish were more spread out than a week ago. Better reports have come from some of the other launches.
Rock Lake is giving up some nice browns and rainbow to shore fishermen throwing nightcrawlers under a bobber at the access. The bite is more steady than fast. Boat anglers were nowhere to be seen when I stopped by the lake on Monday.
The winter lakes, Hog Canyon, Fourth of July, Williams and Hatch, have ice coverings, and trout fishing has been good. Hog Canyon could have access problems as the snow becomes slushy, but the bite has been excellent.
Be wary on the ice of all lakes, as warmer weather can change things quickly.
Salmon and steelhead
The Clearwater was good to three steelhead anglers fishing with guide Toby Wyatt of Reel Time Fishing last Friday. Working in the pink house area, John Petrofski, friend Paul Kirkpatrick, and Kirkpatrick’s son Mitch caught 10 B-run steelhead, with the young Kirkpatrick bringing four to net. Info: (208) 790-2128.
Snake River steelhead are hanging up in slots and holes up and down the river, and they seem to be getting larger each week. This is a good time to try your luck between Clarkston and Hells Canyon Dam.
At Boggan’s Oasis on the Grande Ronde, Bill Vail said the river is wide open and beautiful and fish are being caught.
An estimated 507 steelhead were caught in November on the Hanford Reach, and anglers are averaging one steelhead for each 11 hours of fishing.
On Tuesday, WDFW opened the Columbia River from Vernita Bridge to Priest Rapids Dam for the retention of hatchery steelhead. Returns of hatchery and natural-origin summer-run steelhead to the upper Columbia River have far exceeded the run criteria of 9,300 counted over Priest Rapids Dam required to open the fishery.
Snow and ice are making things difficult on the Methow and steelhead fishing is from shore only until things warm up. Floating the Wenatchee is still possible.
The Okanogan River froze over from the mouth clear to Omak and it probably won’t be fishable until sometime in February. For current conditions on the Methow River, call Kevin van Bueren, North Cascades Fly Fishing, at (509) 846-4939 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are a lot of steelhead in the Columbia, and the cooler weather has dropped water temperature, making them more likely to bite. Shrimp on marabou jigs under bobbers took a lot of steelhead near Pateros recently, but a good many of them were native fish. The bite has been midmorning rather than early.
The Lake Coeur d’Alene Winter Chinook Derby held last weekend had 55 participants, and Jeff Smith at Fins and Feathers in Coeur d’Alene said fishing was good. He estimated 200 chinook were caught, many of them between 3-6 pounds. Smith said 22 fish were registered and Andy Whitmire had the largest at 11 pounds 14 ounces. Many fish are cruising at about 115 feet.
On the West Side, fishing for hatchery steelhead gets going around mid-December as long as the weather cooperates and the rivers stay fishable, says Bob Leland, WDFW’s steelhead program manager. Several West Side rivers are open, including the Skagit, Snohomish, Skykomish, Snoqualmie and Green (Duwamish).
The perch fishing is starting to get good at Rufus Woods, and they are big. Look for weed beds on the upper end. Another place for perch, though not as large, is Eloika Lake, where the first ice fishing of the season began this week. Although the lake was in decent shape at midweek, the current warming spell could be making things sloppy (and dangerous) by the weekend. Depending on where you fish at Eloika, you will encounter 3-5 inches of ice. The lake has a huge variety of fish, so anglers are also catching quite a few bass as well as some big crappie. The best success has been straight out from the public access.
Patterson Lake near Winthrop, Wash., can also be good for yellow perch during the winter. Fish Lake in Chelan County is another good bet for December perch fishing.
Ice fishing in Idaho is also iffy. As of Thursday, Upper Twin and Avondale were kicking out panfish, including some 12-inch perch at Avondale.
Anglers were even ice fishing at the sportsman’s access on Hayden. The small lakes around Bonners Ferry, such as Robertson, Smith and Dawson, were also fishable.
The warmer weather should entice ducks and geese back into the area. Two friends and I had a good goose shoot Wednesday morning near Reardan. Sitting in my layout blind, I counted six different coyotes in an adjacent wheat field. Hunters looking for some winter action could do a lot worse than setting up for the now highly conspicuous song dogs.
Washington turkey hunters still have until Wednesday to fill their tags, and these are definitely not the wary birds of spring. They are in big flocks and are actually making nuisances of themselves as deep snow drives them into yards and even up on porches and hot tubs.
My son, who lives adjacent to me, has some good photos of a pure white wild turkey that stared at him through his patio sliders this week.