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Hunting + fishing

Fly fishing

There is not much snow now, even around north Idaho rivers. Persistent fly fishermen are still catching lots of small cutthroat from the North Fork Coeur d’Alene.

Trout and kokanee

Two friends and I launched at Seven Bays Tuesday and trolled flies and small plugs close to shore toward Jones Bay. The bite wasn’t as strong as last week at Keller and the triploids weren’t quite as big. We caught six. Overall, limits are the rule out of most Roosevelt launches, and a few big kokanee are coming from Spring Canyon. A week ago, Skipper Bill Bongers and Frank Whiney fished the same Lincoln area and limited quickly on triploids running 2-5 pounds. Go figure.

Sprague is under the same catch rules as Lake Roosevelt – five trout daily with no more than two measuring over 20 inches. The overall size of Sprague Lake trout is tempting some anglers into violations, and tickets have been issued. Anglers who leave equipment or debris on the ice can be fined for littering.

Rock Lake continues to impress with good catches of brown trout. The bite for anglers fishing from shore is slow.

Priest Lake has had excellent mackinaw fishing. Spokane resident Brian Stauffacher said that stuffing the new Cut Plug Superbaits with tuna fish works just as well for macks as for salmon. He trolls Mack Alley at 1.3 mph using either the Superbaits or a dodger and glow hootchie tipped with pikeminnow meat or worm. Make sure the downrigger ball is always dragging or thumping the bottom. The Indian Creek Campground launch is probably the best, but it gets slippery.

Ice fishing for rainbow trout at the Windmill/Canal lakes in the Potholes Reservoir area in Grant County has been good.

WDFW district fish biologist Bob Jateff of Twisp reported good rainbow trout fishing through the ice at Rat Lake near Brewster, Sidley/Molson Lake near Oroville, Big and Little Green lakes near Omak, and Davis Lake near Winthrop.

Steelhead and salmon

The Clearwater River was a pleasant surprise last week with anglers taking a steelhead every eight hours. There have been reports of eight-fish days by shoreline jig and bobber fishermen near the Orofino Bridge.

Snake River steelheading remains productive for anglers who find the fish pooled up near the mouths of tributaries. The latest creel check data shows the best catch rates below Heller Bar near the mouth of the Grande Ronde River, and in the lower Grande Ronde itself where anglers average a little more than six hours of fishing per catch.

In the mainstem Snake, from Ice Harbor to Lower Monumental dams, steelheaders average almost 12 hours per fish caught. From Lower Monumental to Little Goose dams, the average is just less than 17 hours per catch, and from Little Goose to Lower Granite dams, the average is 17.5 hours. Tributary streams in the area have been muddy but are clearing.

Upper Columbia River steelhead fishing picked up slightly last week in the tributaries above Wells Dam while air temperatures were above freezing. Fishing will taper off as the temperatures fall and ice forms in the rivers, so anglers planning a trip should check weather conditions. Anglers do best when drifting the slower-moving, deeper runs as the fish tend to hold in these areas during the winter months.

Steelhead fishing in the Ringold area of the Columbia River near the Tri-Cities is still producing for bank anglers and boaters alike, reported WDFW Ringold/Meseberg Fish Hatchery specialist Mike Erickson.

Spiny ray

Eloika Lake has been slow for perch. Silver Lake is better, but the bite is early and the bigger perch are in deep water. Perch eyes are a popular bait at either lake. Ice fishing for perch has been decent at Moses Lake and at Fish Lake in Chelan County near Wenatchee. Patterson Lake near Winthrop is producing perch in the 7- to 8-inch range, with some larger fish to 10 inches.

Idaho’s Upper Twin perch fishing is fair at midlake. Fernan, which was good last week for perch, has been slower this week with anglers catching as many trout as spiny ray. Gamble Lake is said to be good for big perch.

On Roosevelt, walleye anglers are picking up fish near Buoy 12, but the fish are deep.

Other species

An evening razor clam dig on ocean beaches is set to begin Jan. 27 if marine toxin tests confirm the clams are safe to eat. Long Beach and Twin Harbors are tentatively scheduled to open on evening tides Jan. 27-31, with digs also planned at Copalis and Mocrocks beaches Jan. 29-31 and at Kalaloch beach in the Olympic National Park Jan. 30-31.

Ice fishing for whitefish at Banks Lake near Coulee City is reportedly good. Anglers are also taking limits of whitefish on the Yakima, the Naches, Tieton, Cle Elum and Bumping rivers. Concentrate effort in deep pools below riffles. Most fish are 10-15 inches.

The Methow River is open to whitefish from Gold Creek upstream to the falls above Brush Creek and the Chewuch River from the mouth to the Pasayten Wilderness boundary. The Similkameen River is open from the mouth to the Canadian border. Anglers fishing for whitefish in areas that are open for steelhead must use selective gear (single barbless lures and flies, no bait allowed).


Waterfowl hunting season continues through this month. Near dusk, large flights of mallards and pintails can be seen coming off Columbia Basin irrigation wasteways, Potholes Reservoir and Moses Lake to feed on corn stubble fields into the night. This makes them practically inaccessible to hunters. Goose hunters report having to work hard to get their birds, though overall goose numbers seem to be increasing in the area.

Coyote hunting, which is open year-round statewide, is popular in northeast Washington, especially in the Colville Valley, the Stevens County “wedge” and the Springdale/Valley area, said Sandy Dotts, WDFW habitat biologist in Colville.

Snow geese are plentiful in the North Puget Sound area. Hunting for the birds has recently improved, said Don Kraege, WDFW waterfowl manager. Kraege encourages eligible hunters to hunt for snow geese at the quality hunt units on Fir Island and in Stanwood.

“Not a lot of hunters who have signed up for the quality hunts are currently using those areas, which should provide great hunting opportunities for snow geese throughout January,” he said.

Hunters must have written authorization to hunt for snow geese in Goose Management Area 1 and written authorization to hunt the quality hunt units.

Hunters also must possess a Washington small-game hunting license and a state migratory bird validation, as well as a federal migratory bird stamp. For more information on the quality hunt units and the quality hunt program go to game/water/snow_goose

Contact Alan Liere via e-mail at