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Hunting + fishing

Fly fishing

Lenice Lake was the most popular and best-performing quality water on Monday’s opener. Triploid trout averaged 19-21 inches with a few up to 24.

Dusty Lake didn’t get nearly as much attention as Lenice, but a few fly fishermen throwing small scuds did well on rainbow and tiger trout to 16 inches. Tigers have been in the lake for several years, and some are more than 10 pounds.

Fly fishermen trolling leeches and Wooly Buggers did well at Amber Lake this week. The fish are not yet taking chironomids.

The Grande Ronde is coming up and prospects for the weekend aren’t as good as they were this week. It could be prime again by Monday. Stonefly nymphs and egg patterns are taking a lot of fish throughout the system – even at the mouth – said Sean Visintainer at Silver Bow Fly Shop.

Visintainer also said the North Fork Coeur d’Alene is fishing well with stonefly nymphs and Pheasant Tails. He said there is a little dry fly action at midday on midges and blue-wing olives.

Salmon and steelhead

The Clearwater River is low and fish are strung out throughout the system. The Salmon River system is full of fish.

Upper Columbia Steelhead fishing has been fair near Pateros using baited quarter-ounce Rock Dancer jigs baited with purple shrimp. Drift a hole three or four times and move on.

Boat and bank anglers in The Dalles and John Day Pools are catching a few steelhead. Winter steelhead and a few spring chinook should be available.

Lake Coeur d’Alene chinook are starting to feed more aggressively. Fishing for these landlocked salmon should be good.

Trout, kokanee

Monday’s opener in Grant County was generally good. The most successful opening-day waters were Martha, Upper Caliche and Lenice lakes. At Martha and Caliche lakes, anglers averaged near limits of trout with several anglers taking full limits in less than an hour.

Quincy and Burke lakes were a disappointment. Catchable trout were planted only two weeks ago, however, and District 5 biologist Chad Jackson expects both lakes to fish a lot better as the spring progresses.

Lakes that appeared to be underused by anglers on the opener were Dusty and Lenore. The five boat anglers checked at Lenore caught about seven cutthroat trout each, from 14-22 inches.

WDFW fish biologist Jeremy Trump checked anglers on opening day at most of the Tucannon lakes on the Wooten Wildlife Area, where fish averaged about 12 inches. Spring Lake had the highest average number of fish caught per angler – just more than three.

WDFW Region 1 fish biologist Chris Donley said Liberty was probably the best area water on Monday’s opener, with bank anglers averaging a fish each and boat anglers averaging around three. The majority were brown trout running 14-20 inches.

Selective gear lakes Amber, Medical and Coffeepot were “decent,” Donley said. Amber fish were mostly rainbow 13-18 inches.

Medical rainbow averaged 18 inches and up to 24 inches. Brown trout averaged 16 inches. Donley said Coffeepot Lake was a little murky, but anglers averaged four rainbow each, most between 13 and 18 inches.

Deer Lake gave up one 15-pound mackinaw on the opener. One angler noted the lake level was down a little and the launch was difficult.

No trout will be planted at Downs Lake until mid-March, but it is one of the first area lakes to provide early largemouth fishing.

Friends who fished Sprague this week, both from boat and shore, said the bite is picking up. A trolled perch Rapala accounted for at least one limit of chunky rainbow to 23 inches. Remember that you may keep only two Sprague Lake trout more than 20 inches in length.

Lake Roosevelt anglers have had some good days for trout lately. One party reported that while trolling in Spring Canyon netted nothing, pulling into shore and casting Power Bait under a bobber was deadly.

In Idaho, rainbow trout still abound in Fernan.

Spiny ray

Lake Coeur d’Alene pike anglers are throwing out smelt or herring under a bobber in the bays and hooking up with some big fish. Hayden Lake has produced a few pike, too, but the average catch is smaller than in years past. Plug anglers are taking a few pike on the chain lakes.

The Lind Coulee Arm of Potholes Reservoir should turn on any day for walleye. Crappie action in the main lake should also begin soon.

Perch fishing is good at Coulee City in the marina, but the fish are small. The walleye fishing at Rufus Woods is fair if the water is running, but slow if not.

Lake Roosevelt walleye action is said to be slow but consistent. Some decent catches have been reported from just north of The Kettle Falls Bridge.


With a month left in Idaho’s first regulated wolf hunting season, half the wolf zones are closed and another is one wolf shy of the harvest limit. As of Monday, hunters have taken 162 wolves, with 58 left to reach the statewide harvest limit. Wolf harvest is nearly at the limit of 16 in the Salmon Zone. To find out whether a zone is open, call 877-872-3190.

Contact Alan Liere at spokesmanliere@