Recent runoff has the Coeur d’Alene and St. Joe rivers running high and turbid. If you absolutely need to fish, go high into the watershed. The Clark Fork is up, but if it stays constant, the fishing can be good even at 17,000 cfs.
Best bets for fly fishermen are the scab rock lakes south and west of Spokane. Sprague and Amber have had some phenomenal days, as have Lenore and Lenice. Crab Creek has been good. Medical Lake is giving up a few average-sized browns, some nice tiger trout and quite a few 17- to 20-inch rainbows. Chironomids are still the ticket.
The Mother’s Day caddis are beginning to become the most dominant insect on the Yakima River, but there are still many brown duns as well as salmon flies, golden stones and blue wing olives. Clarity has been good in the Cle Elum area, but the water is a little discolored from Ellensburg down.
Salmon and steelhead
Spring chinook are pouring over Bonneville Dam and anglers are intercepting them along the way. Drano Lake anglers are averaging a fish for every three rods.
Snake River chinook are starting to show in fair numbers, said Richard Ellis of Reel People Guide Service in Starbuck, Wash. Most are 10-12 pounds, but the occasional 30-pounder is landed. He recommends getting on the water early and dragging a KwikFish. Info: (208) 290-8798.
Clearwater River is producing some decent catches of early-arriving chinook as around 24,000 fish have passed Lower Granite Dam.
Landlocked chinook fishing is still fair on Lake Coeur d’Alene. They have been hitting herring on the surface.
Most Idaho steelhead waters are closed, but the Little Salmon River from its mouth to the U.S. Highway 95 Bridge near Smokey Boulder Road is open until May 15.
Trout and kokanee
Kokanee reports are trickling in from around Harrison on Lake Coeur d’Alene. The fish are small. Dworshak Reservoir kokes are larger and are biting much more aggressively. Good action is still a week or more off at Loon Lake and Lake Chelan.
Idaho Panhandle trout stocking is just getting started, but a few popular lakes won’t get planted until just before Memorial Day.
Bull Moose, Crystal, Freeman and Mirror lakes have been planted with 9- to 10-inch rainbow. Kelso, Lower Twin, Round and Stoneridge Reservoir will be planted Monday.
Antelope, Clark Fork Lodge Pond, Fernan, Granite, Post Falls Park Pond and Jewel will be planted May 17. Of these, Fernan will receive the most at 4,000. Of the other 14 lakes to be stocked on May 24, Brush, Horseshoe and Robinson will receive 2,000-2,500 trout each.
Five pounds separated first and second place in the rainbow division at the Lake Pend Oreille Spring K&K tournament, won by True Ott of Pleasantville, Utah, with a fish weighing 18 pounds, 2 ounces. Second place was Cory LaRue of Hayden Lake. Lana Kay Hanson of Sandpoint caught the top mackinaw. It weighed 19 pounds. Zachary Russell of Mill Creek, Wash., was youth mackinaw winner with a fish weighing 8 pounds, 7 ounces.
In the Spokane area, Williams Lake remains the go-to destination for limits of planted rainbow. West Medical is also good. Planters are numerous but small with broodstock to 22 inches. Badger Lake reports are mixed, but on some days, a trolled Carey Special is deadly.
To the north, Waitts Lake is a good choice for a daylong bite of stocked trout and carryovers.
Colville Indian Reservation hot spots include McGinnis Lake for brookies. Twin Lakes anglers have landed some 6- to 7-pound triploids as well as bass. LeFleur Lake, which has small bass plus 9-inch rainbows and lots of carryovers, opens Saturday.
Eloika Lake bass should begin spawning by next week. Crappie, which are spawning, are fairly easy to catch on white jigs.
Downs Lake is another crappie hot spot. Anglers who have fished the lake for years say the recent bite has been the best they’ve seen for 10- to 14-inch slabs. Largemouth also are biting.
Potholes Reservoir conditions were terrible last weekend for the Rod Meseberg Walleye Classic, but a lot of nice fish were weighed – most taken from the Crab Creek Channel. The winning weight was nearly 40 pounds, caught be the team of Jason Bauer and Rod Hewitt. Spinners were the most consistent fish-catchers.
Moses Lake bass are biting. Most are smallmouths with a few hefty largemouths.
Lake Roosevelt smallmouth have turned on. A friend fishing rock piles near Keller recently, as well as gravel flats and points in the lower Sanpoil, did well at midweek on cranks and tubes. Most fish were caught in 8 feet of water.
Banks lake walleye anglers are finding some fish on the north end and a few in the Devil’s Punchbowl. Smallmouth bass are just getting started.
Lake Coeur d’Alene water is almost up to summer levels and smallmouth fishing picking up. Pike are spawning and are most susceptible to bait
Hayden Lake is still cold and low, but crappie, largemouth bass, pike and the occasional big rainbow are beginning to bite. One warm weekend would really bring things to life.
Lake Pend Oreille’s temperature is getting into the 50s and bass, perch and crappie are being caught in the sloughs. Fishing for these species will get better.
Catfish are showing in good numbers up the Palouse River. The sturgeon bite on the Snake near Starbuck is probably two weeks away.
Four ocean beaches will open for clam digging on May 15, and two the following day if toxin tests come up negative .
Washington and Montana hunters have new options when they apply special big-game permit this year. Take time to check out the details.
Application deadlines: Washington, May 26; Montana, June 1; and Idaho, June 5.
Contact Alan Liere by e-mail at spokesmanliere @yahoo.com.
Outdoors editor Rich Landers contributed to this report.