Trout and kokanee
Area winter lakes Hog Canyon, Fourth of July, Williams and Hatch will open Wednesday after being closed for rehabilitation last year. Fish biologists Chris Donley and Bill Baker have sampled the lakes and said anglers will be pleasantly surprised. Hog Canyon, Hatch and Williams trout are running 10-15 inches. Fourth of July fish will go as big as 17 inches. There are lots of them. There was no ice on any of the lakes when fished, but anglers are advised to keep a watch on the 10-day forecast. If the cold weather holds, ice fishing on opening day is a possibility, especially at Hog Canyon.
Lake Roosevelt anglers report excellent success for some of the larger rainbows as well as wild sheep sightings between Lincoln and Sterling Point. Long-lining mono and plugs has been just as effective as dragging flies on three colors of leaded line. Pink Apexes have also been good.
A Spokane bank angler on Roosevelt said it took him four hours to get to Lincoln, one hour to catch a limit, and three hours to get home. He was using green marshmallows.
Rufus Woods is kicking out a lot of tagged 2-3 pound fish as well as a few larger ones that have been in the impoundment longer. Dark-colored jigs in 10-15 feet of water are doing the damage near the net pens.
Nasty weather is affecting participation in the Lake Pend Oreille Thanksgiving Trout Derby. As of mid-week, Roy Stokes of Post Falls led the adult division for rainbow with a fish weighing 15 lbs, 13 oz. For adult mackinaw, Dave Ivy of Sagle led with a fish weighing 10 lb, 3 oz. Ivy is also second in the rainbow category with a fish of 13 lbs, 12 oz. No fish were allowed to be weighed in on Thanksgiving.
Salmon and steelhead
Steelhead anglers are doing well now on the upper Wenatchee River, but a lot of the fish caught are wild. The Methow, too, is providing decent fishing.
The Clearwater River is coming back down after last week’s storm and fishing pretty well, though participation is understandably low. From the Salmon confluence to Hells Canyon Dam has been good.
The best steelhead fishing has been on the Salmon River from the Middle Fork to the Lemhi River, where anglers are averaging a fish every six hours.
Anglers are averaging one steelhead for each 11 hours of fishing in the Hanford Reach. Catch and harvest is well below the 2008 and 2009 November. Steelhead angling is fair in the Columbia River above the John Day Dam and in the John Day Arm.
Walleye anglers fishing the full moon at Keller did not do particularly well this week. The few who braved the weather reported quite a few fish, but nothing of size. Most bites were at 50-60 feet.
Perch aficionados may want to keep an eye on shallow Eloika Lake, which was forming ice around the edges at midweek. If the cold snap continues, this may be one of the earliest ice fishing seasons, and the initial bite at Eloika is generally one of the strongest of the season.
In general, the sturgeon fishing on the Lower Columbia from the Wauna powerlines to Bonneville Dam has gone as cold as the weather. Out of 117 sturgeon bank anglers and 24 boat anglers sampled recently from Bonneville Dam downstream to the Wauna powerlines, no legals were kept.
IDFG biologist, Jim Hayden says the Priest River deer check station shows better results for hunter success this year than last, with pressure down and harvest up. He says 11.9 percent of the hunters checked brought in a deer compared to last year’s 7.3 percent.
No one has reported seeing big numbers of unwary mallards in the Columbia Basin, but a friend in Moses Lake says there is a good-sized flock of northerns feeding in his cornfield. Hopefully, when the big migration arrives they will find open water.
Idaho 2011 licenses, tags and permits go on sale at 11:01 p.m. PST, Tuesday, except for the nonresident Selway B elk tags which go on sale at 9 a.m. Wednesday. Nonresident hunters can buy their licenses and tags at Fish and Game offices, any license vendor, or by credit card by calling 1-800-554-8685. They can also buy them online at the Fish and Game Website at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov. Big game hunters can find more information on the sale and purchase of tags for residents and nonresidents on pages 92-96 of the Idaho 2010 Big Game Seasons rules booklet.