December 17, 2010 in Outdoors

Hunting and fishing

By The Spokesman-Review
Tip of the week

A simple but effective setup for field hunting honkers is to think of the letter “A” when setting up. Put a few decoys at the tip of the “A,” your blind at the crosshatch and then run the rest of the decoys along the line of each leg. Leave the down-wind leg a little shorter. Geese have a tendency to want to fill in the shorter leg as they land into the wind, and this should put them right in front of you.

Braggin’ rights

A friend and I finally found some ducks this week on a small creek west of Spokane. Shooting wasn’t fast, but we took six mallard drakes from two flocks. After making him promise me the keys to his new truck, I was able to extract my friend from the middle of the creek where he had sunk a foot into the mud.


There were two big Rufus Woods triploids caught this week above Chief Joseph Dam. One weighed 17 pounds, the other 22. The frequency of large triploids from Rufus Woods has diminished considerably in the last two years.

Heads up

• It’s not too soon to enter Idaho’s Super Hunt, a chance to win the hunt of a lifetime. The Super Hunt is a fund-raising drawing for 40 big- game tags. The tags for elk, deer, pronghorn and moose are handed out to winners in two drawings and cost $6 for a species and $4 for each additional tag for the same species. Super Hunt Combos are $20 for the first entry and $16 after that.

• The Idaho fall steelhead season remains open through Dec. 31. The spring steelhead season begins Jan. 1, but anglers will need a new steelhead permit and a 2011 fishing license. Parts of some rivers are closed, so check the fishing regulations.

• Little Goose Lock and Dam has temporarily suspended private vehicle crossings to accommodate work divers and their equipment. The dam is slated to reopen for vehicle crossings on Jan. 3. Lower Monumental Lock and Dam remains closed to cross-dam traffic through March 13. Lower Granite Lock and Dam allows traffic crossings daily, from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., except for federal holidays. Call 1-888-326-4636 for current dam-crossing information.

Fly fishing

If you need a fly-fishing “fix,” Pat Way at Northwest Outfitters in Coeur d’Alene said, Rocky Ford is about your only option. He said small nymphs are the best bet, but streamers can be good at low light.

Trout and kokanee

Anglers trolling the can line on the upper end of Rufus Woods report taking quite a few 15-inchers along with the occasional larger triploid. Several anglers mentioned that the fishing picked up when they began a faster troll, more than 2 mph. Anglers fishing Power Bait on a slip sinker do well at times at the lower net pens. There are supposed to be 4,000 fish per month released into Rufus between now and June.

The ice at Fourth of July covered only part of the lake at midweek and fishing was erratic. A fast bite was often preceded and followed by many hours of inactivity. Hog Canyon was better, but the ice there is also marginal. Up north, Williams and Hatch are loaded with trout but the ice is unsafe. A few more days of freezing will firm things up again.

The rainbow bite on Lake Roosevelt continues. Most fish weigh about 1 1/2 pounds, but there are still 20-inchers being caught. Recent reports from the Split Rock area indicate easy limits come on plugs or gaudy flies fished with no flasher. The chunky rainbow appear to have moved up some in the water column, with anglers reporting good success fishing only 1-2 colors of leaded line. Bank anglers throwing worms, marshmallows and Power Bait are also catching fish. Anglers camping/fishing at Porcupine Bay will get pretty lonely, but the trout fishing is excellent at the mouth of the narrows.

Rock Lake rainbow and browns are easier for boat anglers than those fishing from shore, but the bank bite occasionally gets crazy. Anglers at the access are throwing worms under bobbers and stringing some big trout.

Salmon and steelhead

The Clearwater has been running high and muddy, but there is a good chance it will be fishable again by the weekend. At Camp, Cabin and Home in Lewiston, Andy Alldredge predicts phenomenal fishing by Sunday as new fish will be in and a little color to the water makes them less spooky.

The Grande Ronde was running at 2,900 cfs on Thursday, but it is dropping and will probably be less than 2,000 cfs by Sunday. At this level, Chris Donley of WDFW said, it is “very fishable, but anglers will just have to look in different places.”

In Starbuck, guide Richard Ellis said the Palouse is running mud, so the mouth won’t be good for a while. He said the steelhead fishing near the hatchery should pick up any time, but fishing off The Wall at Little Goose has been slow.

Anglers and guides say Columbia River steelhead in the Brewster area are the biggest seen in several years. The Columbia bite is mostly a shrimp and bobber affair, with jig or without. Move around and try different depths.

Maxi Jigs, with or without bait, are accounting for Wenatchee River steelhead. Many of the fish are wild.

Roses Lake in the Okanogan has received a plant of 17,000 catchable rainbows, so it should provide some great angling.

Spiny ray

Despite the rain earlier in the week, Eloika Lake is still fishable, though no one has done particularly well, and the ice isn’t thick enough for me. As many bass are being caught as perch. The best bite is early and late.

Walleye anglers are puzzled by the lack of success at Rufus Woods. This is generally the time the bite picks up again. A friend and fanatic walleye fisherman said he hasn’t been able to graph a walleye lately at Lake Roosevelt near Seven Bays. He did, however, catch an 18-inch smallmouth.


At Mardon Resort on Potholes Reservoir, Mike Meseberg said there are a lot of geese in the Royal Slope area and his clients are shooting ducks in flooded corn near Othello. He noted the sand dunes are a tough go with lots of ice and only about a half mile of Crab Creek open. A boat blind would be effective, but getting to land to set up is almost impossible. Meseberg also warns that the ramp at the public access is “seriously iced” and anyone who is thinking about launching there better have a second vehicle with a long tow strap to help get the boat out.

The Idaho pheasant season in Areas 1 and 3 is open through Dec. 31. The forest grouse season is open through Jan. 31 in north Idaho’s Area 1 and through Dec. 31 in the rest of the state. Seasons for bobwhite and California quail in Area 2 are open through Jan. 31. Chukar and gray partridge seasons are open statewide through Jan. 31. Idaho waterfowl seasons are open to Jan. 14, in Area 1, northern and eastern Idaho, and to Jan. 21 in Area 2, southwestern Idaho and Magic Valley. Idaho hunters and anglers must have 2010 licenses and permits through Dec. 31. On Jan. 1, they will need new 2011 licenses and permits.

The Washington waterfowl season closes Jan. 30. Pheasants, quail and chukar all close Jan. 17. Long-legged hunters are finding a few partridge and some quail near the blackberry patches in Snake River canyons from Wawawai to Clarkston.

With the snow mostly gone south of town, pheasants have again faded into the brush.

Contact Alan Liere at

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