The Methow River has a sizeable population of mountain whitefish and they can be caught readily on flies. The daily limit is 15, with no minimum size and selective gear rules in effect for whitefish in all areas that are currently open for steelhead.
Trout and kokanee
Many anglers are saying this is the best year for Lake Roosevelt trout. The entire system is producing great fishing with limits the rule, but it seems the larger fish are being taken below Lincoln. Plugs like the F-7 Fire Tiger Rapala have accounted for a lot of fish this week, but don’t hesitate to use any flashy fly or even the plain Muddler – with or without a flasher. Stay between the surface and 20 feet and use a long leader.
Lake Roosevelt shore fishermen are also doing well. A friend said he has taken limits to the left of the Fort Spokane swimming area every time he has been out. He said the longest he has fished is four hours. Green Power Bait is his offering of choice.
Anglers probing Rock Lake’s depths are having good success long-lining Rapalas or Apexes. Green streamer flies have also worked well. The majority of fish are rainbows, holding between 20 and 30 feet, but there are also plenty of brown trout. The average fish is around two pounds.
Anglers have been observed ice fishing at Sprague Lake recently and rainbow are being taken. Most fishermen do not venture out too far, but the projected frigid temperatures should firm things up and put them at ease.
Hog Canyon Lake has been very good to ice fishermen and they are hauling in 14-inch trout using Power Bait, corn or maggots. Fourth of July has not produced as well, but the trout are generally larger. Anglers complain of a muddy or grassy taste to Fourth of July fish, but there are no complaints from Hog Canyon or Sprague.
The northern winter lakes – Hatch and Williams – still have a good population of trout but aren’t seeing many fishermen. The ice conditions are good. Waitts Lake ice anglers reported some good catches of brown trout recently.
Lincoln County Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Swanson Lakes Wildlife Area manager Juli Anderson reports shoreline openings in Z Lake thanks to an aeration system. “I don’t know how many folks are trekking in to Z Lake to fish those rainbow trout, but they’re available,” she said.
In Okanogan County, Davis Lake in the Winthrop area, Big and Little Green lakes in the Omak area and Rat Lake near Brewster have ice and are producing trout. Patterson Lake near Winthrop has a good population of 6- to 10-inch perch as well as a few kokanee and rainbow trout. Other popular ice fishing lakes in Okanogan County are Sidley, located east of Oroville, and Bonaparte, located east of Tonasket. Sidley has rainbow trout and Bonaparte has eastern brook and kokanee.
Salmon and steelhead
The Clearwater can go from poor to fantastic in a half day. Anglers who have fished the morning without a bite say afternoons are sometimes red hot. Steelhead fishermen are averaging eight hours per fish from the Memorial Bridge to the Orofino Bridge. A few fish are also coming from the North Fork of the Clearwater.
Some of the best steelhead catches on the Columbia River have been reported in the Ringold area, though steelhead fishing with a jig and bobber from Pateros to Bridgeport is reported to be good. Many boats are putting 10 to 15 fish in the net per day using baited jigs under slip bobbers.
Eloika Lake is the most popular panfish destination in the Spokane area. Fishing action seems to have moved north on the lake, with anglers having better luck beginning at Jerry’s Landing. Often, a lethargic morning bite will take off in the late afternoon, and anglers who have drilled multiple holes and are willing to keep moving will often take a lot of fish before dark. Perch comprise the majority of catches, though bass are also common. Anglers are also likely to catch crappie, bullheads, grass pickerel and sunfish.
Ice is 8 inches thick (half opaque and half clear) with a lot of snow on top.
Silver Lake, a normally popular ice fishing destination near the town of Medical Lake, had only a little ice at the public access this week.
Small Idaho lakes are frozen and fishing has been fair to good for a variety of species. Hauser, Fernan and Round lakes have a lot of small perch. Gamble has larger perch, but 10 fish is an excellent bag. The Chain Lakes have just about everything. Pike fishermen using smelt are taking fish off their tip-ups.
There have been no recent reports, but some of the largest walleye of the year are boated during the winter months near the Tri-Cities – including the 19.3-pound state record taken in Lake Wallula in 2007.
In Idaho, whitefish are beginning to show on the Clearwater River below Kooskia, the lower Selway and Lochsa. Small wet flies drifted just off the bottom in riffle areas bring the best results. Whitefish angling has also improved on the lower stretches of the North Fork of the Coeur d’Alene. Where bait is allowed, tip the flies with a maggot.
A few anglers are venturing onto the minimal ice at the north end of Banks Lake and coming back with whitefish and a few perch. Most anglers, however, have not been willing to risk the walk.
Starting Saturday, the John Day Pool will reopen for retention of white sturgeon that measure 43 to 54 inches from their snout to the fork in their tail. The annual sturgeon quota for this fishery is 165 fish. In recent years that has been reached in a couple of months.
Goose hunting in Spokane and Lincoln counties is open Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays through Jan. 23 – plus Jan. 17 for the Martin Luther King holiday – then every day Jan. 24-30.
The application period for spring turkey controlled hunts starts Jan. 15 and runs through Feb. 15. That’s also the time to apply for spring black bear controlled hunts. Spring turkey and black bear seasons start April 15 – some controlled hunts open later. Leftover tags for spring turkey and bear controlled hunts go on sale April 1.
The recent snows should make for some decent pheasant and grey partridge hunting. The birds are bunched up near brush or farm machinery.