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Hunting and fishing

Fly fishing

High water is coming eventually, but for now, the Clark Fork is fishable. Reports have been variable with some reporting dry fly success in the afternoon and others resorting to nymphing and doing well. The Bitterroot, Blackfoot and Rock Creek are also fishable. Nymphing is the name of the game.

Trout and kokanee

Lake Roosevelt trout are moving back into the bays and anglers dunking bait are finding excellent fishing for 15- to 22-inch rainbow.

Coffeepot Lake is a little high this spring than last and it is possible to get through the narrows where anglers are finding lots of big rainbow.

Downs Lake in southwest Spokane County just received some hatchery catchable-size (9 to 12 inches) rainbow trout. Bass fishermen are already taking some largemouth.

Catch-and-release fishing for rainbow and cutthroat trout at Amber Lake has been “awesome,” WDFW biologist Chris Donley said.

The Tucannon River impoundments, on WDFW’s Wooten Wildlife Area, have produced nice rainbow catches since the March 1 opener. Area manager Kari Dingman said Big Four, Blue, Deer, Rainbow, Spring and Watson lakes are all well-stocked with hatchery trout.

Rufus Woods has been slow for trout, but Banks Lake is giving up some large rainbow. The fish are usually dark this time of year.

About three dozen regional lakes opened to fishing or shifted to catch-and-release today.The bulk of those fisheries are in the Columbia Basin. All but one are within or adjacent to the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge south of Potholes Reservoir, and more than half are planted with either spring and/or fall rainbow trout fry. Anglers who traditionally fish North and South Teal lakes should note these have not been stocked since being rehabilitated last fall. The best of the new openings may be Dry Falls Lake, a selective-gear lake located in Sun Lakes. Anglers will catch 13- to 14-inch yearling rainbows with carryovers 18 inches or greater.

Today’s other opening waters in the Columbia Basin include Upper and Lower Hampton lakes and the Pillar-Widgeon chain of lakes for trout.

In Okanogan County, a few other fisheries opened today. Spectacle Lake should be good for rainbow trout in the 10- to 12-inch range. During April, Spectacle will receive up to 800 1- to 2-pound triploid rainbows. Also opening today were Davis, Cougar and Campbell lakes, located within the Methow Wildlife Area near Winthrop, with rainbow trout 10 to 12 inches and carryover fish up to 15 inches. Rat Lake, located north of Brewster, has rainbow and brown trout 10 to 12 inches. Big and Little Green lakes, located 5 miles northwest of Omak, have rainbow trout 10 to 13 inches.

Steelhead and salmon

At midweek, water was clear in the Clearwater, South Fork Clearwater and North Fork Clearwater rivers. Steelhead catch rates have been good.

The spring steelhead harvest season closed Thursday on part of the Salmon River from the Lake Creek Bridge to Long Tom Creek, almost a mile upstream from the Middle Fork Salmon River. The spring steelhead season continues through April 30 in most other steelhead waters, except the Little Salmon River, which stays open until May 15.

Spiny ray

The Pend Oreille River is barely above 40 degrees, but anglers throwing crankbaits and spoons in 5-15 feet of water are picking up a few small pike. The fishery will pick up when the weather warms up.

Perch fishing seems to be slow everywhere. The Coulee City Marina on Banks Lake, which is usually hot in March, has been rather dismal all year. Small male juveniles showed up earlier, but the jumbos are nowhere to be found.

Walleye anglers fishing Fuzzy Grubs and nightcrawlers have had some decent days at the confluence at Fort Spokane. Most fish are under 20 inches. Burbot are also frequently reported. A couple of good walleye reports have come from just past Lincoln.

As the water warms, some of the earliest yellow perch and crappie fishing is available at Liberty Lake. Bass fishermen will have to wait a little longer for a good bite. Fernan Lake, near Coeur d’Alene, is already giving up some good crappie catches.

Hutchinson and Shiner lakes on the refuge in Adams County opened today. They have excellent largemouth bass and bluegill fishing. Only non-motorized boats are allowed. Coyote, Bobcat and Hayes creek ponds, located just south of Morgan and Halfmoon lakes on the refuge in Adams County, are relatively small and shallow.

Other species

Morning razor clam digs are scheduled at Long Beach and Twin Harbors Thursday and next Friday. There are no minus tides during this period, but enough beach should be exposed for decent digging. Another tentative dig is scheduled for April 19-23.


April 15 marks the beginning of the general turkey seasons in Idaho and Washington. Youth hunts will run the week before the general opener in Idaho and Saturday and Sunday in Washington. Dana Base, WDFW northeast district wildlife biologist, said that although overall turkey numbers are still somewhat down from four years ago, flocks are rebuilding and relatively healthy. Winter surveys indicate the highest number of turkeys is in GMU 117 (Chewelah) and GMU 108 (Douglas). WDFW Wooten Wildlife area manager Kari Dingman said turkeys have been strutting and gobbling since mid-March.

April is the month to apply for Idaho moose, bighorn sheep and mountain goat hunts. Hunters may apply at Fish and Game offices, license vendors, and with a credit card by telephone or over the Internet.

Contact Alan Liere at