December 24, 2010 in Outdoors

Hunting and fishing

By The Spokesman-Review
 
Tip of the week

When jig and bobber fishing for steelhead, spool your spinning reels with super braid to reduce stretch and keep your line on the surface where you can see it.

Braggin’ rights

My young friend, Mike Vargas, has been working on the North Slope in Alaska this winter and hasn’t done any hunting. Although he wasn’t exactly “on,” he shot a limit of mallards in a barley field west of town Wednesday.

Overheard

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game has proposed a major renovation to the Sportsman Park boat launch located on the north end of Hayden Lake. At completion, the facility is expected to significantly improve boater access.

Heads up

• In the winter of 2010, a lot of white sturgeon were present in a slough at Rooster Rock State Park on the Columbia River.  Sturgeon catch rates in this area were extremely high in the winter and spring, which jeopardized the 2010 season structure for the gorge fishery above the Wauna powerlines. The area will be closed this year Jan. 1-April 30.

• New special hunting permit categories that debuted in Washington drawings are causing some confusion for hunters filing their mandatory hunting reports, state officials say. The new system allowed some hunters to get more than one tag for a species.  In those cases, the hunter may file a report and think he’s done his duty but not realize he needed to file a second report for the other tag. It’s harder to make this oversight when the filing is done online, but apparently some of the people filing by phone are hanging up and missing the prompts.  The key is to be sure that all reports are cleared before hanging up. The deadline for reporting 2010 hunting activity is Jan. 10.

• Barbed hooks for salmon and steelhead fishing will be allowed on the Columbia River from the mouth to McNary Dam effective Jan. 1 until further notice.

Trout and kokanee

Anglers all over the Lake Roosevelt system are catching limits of trout. This week, positive reports came from Fort Spokane, Seven Bays, Lincoln and Keller. Most are trolling 2-4 colors of leaded line with long (up to 50 feet) leaders. Game commissioner George Orr used a gaudy fly and stinger hook with no flasher for a quick limit of beautiful 14- to 17-inch trout plus a few in the 20s. Others are dragging muddlers and flashers, and still others are pulling Rapalas and Rippin’ Minnows. Keep the boat speed between 1.8-2.4 mph. For some reason, the larger Roosevelt rainbow show up in the winter.

Bank fishermen also do well at Roosevelt. The bay to the left of the Seven Bays launch can be good, as can the water to the left of the swimming area at Fort Spokane. Worms and marshmallows are the preferred offerings of bank fishermen, but it would be a good idea to carry a jar or two of Power Bait. Green and Rainbow are popular colors. A variation that might also entice a walleye from shore is a one-fourth-ounce Curlytail jig with some black on it.

The lower net pens at Rufus Woods are usually good for triploids running 2-3 pounds. Dark-colored jigs are working.  Trolling flies is also effective. Put an action disk in front of something with marabou in its tail. The reservoir is best when water is running.

This is a great time of the year to get a big fish as well as nice numbers of lake trout on Chelan Lake.  Fish by the Yacht Club with Worden’s Lure’s T-4 Purple Glow Flatfish.

Banks Lake trout are biting well. Fish from 1 1/2-3 pounds are common in the top 10 feet of water. The launch at Coulee Playland is usable. Banks Lake water temperature is still hovering around 40 degrees, but there are precious few anglers taking advantage of what could also be a decent walleye and smallmouth bite

Washington ice fishing

Eloika Lake perch, crappie and bass are hitting black jigs tipped with wax worms or maggots.

The crappie have been running 10-12 inches, the perch much smaller.

A lot of bass fall in the 12- to 17-inch slot and must be released.

Many anglers are catching more grass pickerel than anything.

Unfortunately, these are never big – a 13-incher is a whopper – and they are pencil-thin. So far, Silver Lake is not fishable through the ice.

Hog Canyon is fishing well. There are two class sizes of trout – 9-11 inches and 13-15 inches. Fourth of July has been slow, but the trout caught are nice.

Up north, Williams and Hatch both have safe ice. Williams has the most fish – 10- to 15-inchers, but Hatch is booting out trout to 17 inches for the few who are sampling it.

Idaho ice fishing

Not all Idaho lakes are safe for ice fishing, but as of Thursday, there were several options for hard-water anglers. Upper Twin is kicking out pike, though the lower lake is not safe. Cocolalla and Fernan do not have safe ice, either.

Idaho lakes that are fishable through safe ice are Kelso (lots of trout because of a late plant), Round (trout and perch), Avondale (mostly bluegill, but also small perch and trout), Hayden Lake at Sportsman’s Park (small pike, with only the bay frozen), and all Bonners Ferry small lakes.

Salmon and steelhead

Larry Busse and friends fished with Jerrod Riggan out of Brewster on Saturday, catching 12 steelhead and losing another six. Nine of the fish landed were wild. They used shrimp under bobbers.

It was reported that Dworshak Dam flushed a lot of water into the Clearwater this week, sending fish downstream. Three friends who bank-fished in several spots near Orofino caught two steelhead in two days.  

The Grande Ronde was reported to be running ice. Last weekend, the mouth was on fire, but there have been no reports recently.

Steelhead angling was hampered by muddy water this past week in the John Day Arm. It should improve in the days to come.

Lake Coeur d’Alene is still booting out small chinook for anglers trolling flashers and Mini Squid 100-150 feet down. A few fish are being taken at 50 feet on helmeted herring, but most of the fish are deeper.

 The stretch of the Columbia River from the Vernita Bridge to Priest Rapids Dam has been good to steelhead anglers. Bait is allowed and there is a two-fish limit for hatchery fish. Barbless hooks are required for this “conservation-based” fishery, and all hatchery steelhead landed must be retained. There is good bank access along this stretch of river.

Other species

Trout and walleye anglers on Lake Roosevelt are picking up an occasional burbot. Targeting them with cut bait or a gob of nightcrawlers may be worth the effort, though it is still a little early for a consistent bite.

Clam diggers can ring in 2011 with a three-day razor clam dig on Washington’s coastal beaches over the New Year’s holiday. Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks and Kalaloch will be open for clam digging Dec. 31 and Jan. 1, from noon to midnight. One beach, Twin Harbors, will also be open from noon to midnight Jan. 2. Low tide on Dec. 31 will occur at 3:40 p.m., setting the stage for the first daylight dig of the season.

Hunting

There are reported to be a lot of geese at Chatcolet and Benewah at the south end of Lake Coeur d’Alene. I think most Spokane- vicinity honkers are hanging out on the football field in Medical Lake.

It has not been a good season for most duck hunters. The mallards still in the country are on the Columbia River. Pheasant hunters who are persistent can find a good shoot now and then. I talked with two hunters Thursday who shot five roosters near Steptoe following the new snow.

Contact Alan Liere at spokesmanliere @yahoo.com


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