Hunting + fishing
Runoff has the Coeur d’Alene and St. Joe rivers running high and turbid. The Coeur d’Alene was soaring toward 6,000 cfs Thursday afternoon. If you must go, try prospecting with big dries and a dropper or with streamers against the bank or in tributaries.
Gold Creek Pass, the route from St. Regis to the St. Joe, was finally passable to four-wheel-drive vehicles on Thursday. Snow still lingers at the pass.
The Clark Fork was still spiking and muddy on Thursday. Brooks Sanford of Clark Fork Trout and Tackle summed it up Thursday by saying, “Pretty ugly.” Watch for lower flows next week.
The St. Regis has also bumped up, but nymphing could still be decent. There are a lot of hatches going on, so the smaller tributaries and tailwaters have potential.
Grimes Lake in central Washington opened Tuesday and has provided fast action for Lahonton cutts.
Salmon and steelhead
Chinook salmon fishing on the Clearwater River has been too good. Anglers are approaching their quota, so the season will close between the Orofino Bridge and Lewiston and the North Fork of the Clearwater River Sunday evening.
The rest of the main Clearwater River and its Middle Fork will close June 13.
After that, the only open chinook fisheries in the Clearwater Basin will be in the South Fork of the Clearwater and Lochsa rivers.
Trout and kokanee
The size of Loon Lake kokanee has been a pleasant surprise this spring. Last fall, many of the fish measured 14 inches, and most fishermen assumed this year’s crop would be much smaller. Instead, trollers are catching 13-inch kokanee. Fish could be running up to 16 inches in August.
Dworshak kokanee fishing is good. Anglers report success with blue/white pop gear with double white corn and crappie nibblet for scent. Also try a chartreuse dodger with blue-green Wedding Ring.
A few kokanee are finally showing on Lake Chelan near the Yacht Club, off the tip of Wapato Point and in the shallow water of Mill Bay.
Palmer Lake, northeast of Tonasket, is a better bet for much larger kokes. Billy Clapp, east of Soap Lake, also has some big kokanee.
Spokane-area trollers have done fairly well for 10-inch kokanee at Chapman Lake. Bight-fishermen are beginning to take fish from the west end.
Friends fishing Waitts Lake twice this week said the fishing is excellent. The majority of trout are rainbow running 10-12 inches, but there are larger rainbow, as well as browns up to 2 pounds. They were trolling three colors of leaded line with small multibladed flashers followed by 6 feet of mono and a large, gaudy fly pattern. The majority of hits came while letting out, and most of the action was at the south end.
Dock anglers have done better than trollers on large Deer Lake rainbow this week. A couple of warm nights have put Sprague Lake fatties back on the bite, said Monika Metz at Sprague Lake Resort. A 5-pounder is so common, it is almost expected.
Clear Lake rainbow and browns are plentiful and will take a trolled fly or spinner as well as bait still-fished in about 20 feet of water.
Dock anglers at Williams Lake were having excellent success at midweek by dropping bait straight down rather than casting out. Most of the fish are 10-11 inches, but a few rainbow to 15 inches are coming in.
The lower end of Upper Twin Lake in Lincoln County is a good spot for bass, but there are also a lot of 10- to 11-inch rainbow.
Friends fishing near Northport report fair walleye action but not much size. They said the China Bend ramp was 4 feet shy of being usable on Wednesday. Anglers who made the run down from Northport reported good walleye fishing in the China Bend area.
The opening of the Spokane Arm on Tuesday provided a lot of limits of small walleye. They were spread out and at all depths. Elsewhere on the big reservoir, notably near Outhouse Flats and the A-frame, the overall size of fish was a little larger.
Some walleye anglers are having trouble getting lures to the bottom without hooking up to the hoards of 6-inch rainbows released from Roosevelt net pens in May.
Moses Lake walleye fishing has been phenomenal one day and zip the next. Potholes has been a little more consistent. Banks Lake provided excellent Memorial Day fishing at midlake and elsewhere.
Lily pads near the public access are a good place to start for Loon Lake largemouth, which are beginning to bed. Silver Lake has also been good for largemouth.
On Long Lake, cast spinners along the emerging weed lines for largemouth and throw tubes for smallmouth. A slow presentation along the bottom is best as the lake isn’t quite warm enough for an aggressive bite.
Tiger muskies are hitting just often enough at Newman Lake to make many bass anglers use wire leader rather than lose their favorite plug. The bass bite has been slow.
Coeur d’Alene Lake has provided good bass and pike fishing at times, but an excellent day is often followed by a skunk.
Hayden Lake is still a little cold and low, but should start to pick up for crappies, largemouth bass and the occasional big rainbow as water temperatures warm.
Lake Pend Oreille’s temps are getting into the 50s and bass, perch and crappie are being caught in the sloughs.
Banks Lake smallmouth are biting well. A 50-fish day isn’t unusual.
The Snake and Columbia rivers aren’t quite that good, but a lot of smallmouth are being caught by anglers throwing plastics or trolling crawdad plugs shallow.
A few anglers have targeted catfish in Lind Coulee, taking some more than 10 pounds. The Palouse River is still a good destination for channel cats.
Contact Alan Liere at firstname.lastname@example.org. Outdoors editor Rich Landers contributed to this column.