Despite cold, slightly roiled water, a few hardy fly fishermen are finding trout that are still looking up on the Big Spokane. If you’d rather drive farther and possibly catch bigger fish, Rocky Ford near Ephrata has had some spectacular days. Small scuds and Stillwater nymphs and small leech patterns are popular.
Lake Roosevelt bank fishermen have had some good days at Seven Bays, Fort Spokane and Gifford. The triploids are running 15-18 inches. Try different combinations of worm, marshmallow, Power Bait and red eggs.
Perch streamer flies and Muddler Minnows are mainstays for Lake Roosevelt trollers. Tip with a small piece of nightcrawler and fish with or without a flasher. Good fishing is reported everywhere, but the Lincoln area seems to be slightly better than others. Depth has been inconsistent, with some fish on the surface and others down as much as 20 feet. A good trolling speed is 2-2.5 mph.
Rufus Woods continues to give up an occasional large triploid – definitely better than three weeks ago. If casting spinners and jigs to shore fails to produce, try trolling dark-colored flies close in. If that doesn’t do it, try a GSR-7 Rapala in blue and tiger striped perch colors. The Nespelem Bar area has been productive, and an Action Disc is often the difference in a good day and a skunk.
Rat Lake ice fishing has been red hot. Limits on this Okanogan-area destination are the rule for 12- to 14-inch trout, and the ice is a solid 8 inches thick.
The northern Washington winter lakes, Hatch and Williams, still have plenty of trout and the ice is good.
Steelhead and salmon
Trollers are having good steelhead success above lower Granite Dam. Shrimp and bobber anglers have had some days casting from shore at Wawawai.
Steelheading in the Okanogan area is slow on the main stem Columbia, which is nevertheless getting a lot of pressure because the Methow and Okanogan rivers are frozen.
Steelheaders below Wells Dam have reported hours of inactivity followed by a frantic bite that lasts as long as an hour and makes all the waiting worthwhile.
The chinook bite on Coeur d’Alene is fair, mostly in bays like Carlin, Arrow Point and Echo. Most boats are getting one or two.
Four of us fished Eloika Lake on Tuesday, averaging five keeper fish each on the east side, north of Jerry’s Landing. There were long dead times between bites, as the perch didn’t seem to be running in schools. We caught more extremely small perch than ever, and the “big ones” were only 8 inches long. Besides the perch, one sunfish and one brown trout were taken. Last year at this time, Eloika Lake anglers were taking a lot of bass.
Silver Lake perch are still biting just out from the public access, but the fish there are pretty small. Bigger fish are coming out farther from 30 feet of water.
Walleye jiggers on Lake Roosevelt are just beginning to pick up a few fish. but they are deep and subject to getting the bends if released.
Moses Lake is frozen and there is some ice fishing for perch near the Interstate Bridge. Soda Lake is also frozen and yielding a variety of spiny ray.
There has been plenty of ice fishing activity at Idaho’s multispecies Fernan Lake with anglers taking some perch up to 12 inches off the points. There are numerous pull-offs around Fernan for parking. The deepest spot in the lake is 24 feet, and this is often where the larger fish are in the winter.
Upper and Lower Twin, Hayden, Hauser, Avondale, Cocolalla, Jewel, Kelso, Mirror, Gamble and Round are also popular multispecies lakes. At Cocolalla, 200 perch might give you 40 big enough to clean. At Gamble, you’ll catch fewer, but some of them will be as long as 14 inches. For small northern pike, try Killarney, Medicine, Cave or Thompson. Chatcolet Lake, at the south end of Coeur d’Alene, is also a good spot for pike, and anglers are also taking 8- to 9-inch perch.
In Idaho, the Clearwater River below Kooskia, the lower Selway and Lochsa are good places for whitefish action. Small wet flies drifted just off the bottom in riffle areas bring best results. Where bait is allowed, tip the flies with a maggot.
The 2010 Columbia River smelt season begins today and runs daily through March 31. The daily limit is 10 pounds.
With the waterfowl season entering its last month, area hunters are concentrating on geese. There are quite a few in the Spokane/Coeur d’Alene region because of numerous bodies of running water, but there’s a long barren stretch between here and the Columbia Basin. As long as the snow cover remains light, there could be decent area goose shooting until the end of the season.
Pheasant hunters are hoping for enough snow to slow the birds down for the last 21/2 weeks of the season. There have been few if any bright spots on the upland scene this year.
Hunters who want to pursue wolves in Idaho need a 2010 wolf tag. All Idaho hunters need a 2010 Idaho hunting license to hunt in the new year. As of Wednesday, the statewide hunter harvest was at 136 wolves.