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Hunting + fishing

Fly fishing

The Methow River closes at the end of the month, but fly fishermen are still taking steelhead as well as incidental catches of rainbow and bull trout.

Roses Lake in the Okanogan is not noted as a fly fishing destination, but a bead head Wooly Bugger will get you all the 11-13 rainbow action you can stand.

Sprague Lake trout, too, are taking flies. Good success may be had slowly trolling a Wooly Bugger. The fish have a tendency to hit the fly at a dead stop.

Fly fishers have so many other choices right now it’s silly. The rivers and creeks are in good shape and look to stay that way, Amber and Medical are productive, the Grande Ronde is on fire and the desert lakes get better each day.

Salmon and steelhead

At Boggan’s Oasis on the Grande Ronde, Bill Vail says cold mornings are a little slow but the river is still kicking out a steelhead every two angler-hours. He’s seeing a lot of bright fish. With the lack of snow pack, there shouldn’t be unfishable days for the rest of the season, he said.

Clearwater River tributaries are still producing steelhead, but fish are harder to find in the Snake from Lower Granite Dam up. At Darver Tackle in Starbuck, however, Verna Foley says steelheading is still good both above and below Little Goose Dam and the Tucannon and Touchet are producing as well.

Upper Columbia steelhead fishing continues to be good on Lake Pateros using bobbers and quarter-ounce Rock Dancer jigs baited with purple shrimp. Running and gunning is the order of the day. The jig should usually hang 6-9 feet below the bobber.

Drano Lake and Wind River from the mouth to Shipherd Falls area opens to fishing for hatchery chinook and hatchery steelhead on Tuesday. However, very few chinook have yet to cross Bonneville Dam this month.

Steelhead angling is excellent in The Dalles Pool. Winter steelhead and a few spring chinook should be available on the lower Columbia.

Lake Coeur d’Alene chinook are right on top. Anglers using planer boards or longlining plugs like the Hot Tiger and Fire Tiger Rapala are taking a few fish. It should pick up as the water warms.

Trout and kokanee

Selective-gear lakes Amber and Coffeepot are all fishing pretty well, mostly for rainbows 14-20 inches and occasionally one to 24 inches. Medical Lake is giving up 14-19-inch browns.

Liberty has slowed from the opening week, but anglers are still taking some big browns and rainbows by trolling slow with a variety of lures. Two hundred brood rainbows were released in Liberty last week. About 10,000 catchables are scheduled to be planted toward the end of the month. The launch is small and can be jammed at times.

Sprague Lake is beginning to take off. Trollers dragging Needlefish and walleye spinners down the middle are boating big rainbow. A pair of Spokane anglers fished there last Saturday and caught and released many trout before keeping two limits. Most fish were taken by trolling an assortment of plugs on top. They said flat-lining countdown Rapalas was most effective

Lake Roosevelt is dropping about six inches a day and trout are biting better for bait anglers fishing from shore. Some good fishing is reported near Hansen Harbor. Three friends who fished near Keller last week landed only three fish one day and 15 the next doing basically the same thing.

In Grant County, good reports have come from Caliche where bait anglers are taking limits of trout right on the bottom. Burke Lake was productive for rainbow running mostly 10-13 inches. Anglers I spoke with said small brown crappie jigs were working better than anything. Dusty Lake, a quality water, is very cold. It has been fair for fly fishermen using a deep sinking line and a slow troll. Lenore is giving up a few big fish.

Rock Lake ’bows and browns are attracting a lot of attention. The fishing can be lights out one day and dead the next, but the consensus is that trolling and casting plugs is the way to go. Anglers have reported follows by brown trout they swear would run 15 pounds.

Rufus Woods has been good for some, particularly those fishing at the lower net pens where the Colville Tribe released a lot of cookie-cutter 2-pound triploids with floy tags. A black fly cast from shore works well.

In the Okanogan, Roses Lake is hot for husky 12-inch planter rainbows and tiger trout to 2 pounds.

Spiny ray

Good perch fishing is again available near the I-90 Bridge at Moses Lake. Anglers are hammering fat perch off the rip rap, and boaters are doing even better.

Caliche Lake in Grant County is loaded with small perch and it isn’t much trouble to catch a bucketful. The perch in this lake need to be fished hard to reduce the competition.

Walleye fishing on Lake Roosevelt is picking up, but the bite is still light. Some big fish have been taken recently near the mouth of the Kettle River.

On the Snake River near Starbuck and Lyons Ferry, walleye fishing has been fairly consistent all winter. Fish seem to be moving toward the Palouse early this year.

Pike fishing has been phenomenal in the Coeur d’Alene Lake bays – anywhere there is enough water to float a bobber and smelt. There is some concern, however, that anglers are killing too many big females to maintain the fishery.

Other species

Sturgeon are just beginning to bite above Little Goose Dam and catfish are slowly moving into the Palouse River near Lyons Ferry to spawn. Look for them now on the mud lines near the mouth.

Contact Alan Liere by e-mail at