December 16, 2011 in Outdoors

Hunting and fishing

By Correspondent
Tip of the week

A gift certificate to cover a new annual Washington hunting/fishing license makes a good Christmas gift. Available to Idaho residents only are license certificates valid for the lifetime of the license holder. Even if a lifetime certificate holder moves out of Idaho, he will continue to receive an annual license, but will have to pay nonresident tag and permit fees. The lifetime certificate does not include tags and permits. Lifetime certificates can be purchased at Idaho Fish and Game headquarters and regional offices. The cost varies with the age of the buyer.


Gun owners who have historically used public lands for target practice would be barred from potentially millions of acres under new rules drafted by the Department of the Interior. “It’s not so much a safety issue. It’s a social conflict issue,” said Frank Jenks, a natural resource specialist with Interior’s Bureau of Land Management, which oversees 245 million acres. He adds that urbanites “freak out” when they hear shooting on public lands. If the draft policy is finally approved, some public access of BLM lands by hunters would also be limited, potentially reducing areas used by deer, elk and bear hunters.

Heads up

• In Idaho, waterfowl hunters who hunt on Jan. 1 must have a 2012 Idaho hunting license and migratory bird validation, but the federal duck stamps are good through the end of June. In Washington, licenses are good through March.

With the opening of the spring harvest season Jan. 1, steelhead fishing in Idaho continues through the winter on parts of the Clearwater, Salmon, Little Salmon, Snake and Boise rivers. On Jan. 1, all anglers will need a 2012 Idaho fishing license and steelhead permit to fish for steelhead in Idaho.

• Two 2011-2012 sport rule proposal changes could affect northern pike in Washington if passed into law: declassification of pike as a game fish and allowing a two-pole endorsement for Box Canyon and Boundary Reservoirs on the Pend Oreille River. To comment on these or other sport rule proposals, go to

• Although the public meetings have already taken place, follow other links and instructions on that page to provide your comments until Dec. 30.

• With its rich green foliage and red berries, Japanese yew is an attractive exotic ground covering shrub planted to decorate gardens. As people have started to live further from town, they brought this yew with them. Unfortunately, when big game or livestock are involved, a bite or two of Japanese yew can be fatal. It is so toxic, it can quickly kill something as large as an adult moose, and has recently done so.

Steelhead and salmon

The Clearwater River is clear and cold and hard to navigate. Under such conditions, the fish will be in slow water, but reports from Orofino down to the mouth are not good.

Snake River steelhead fishermen are fighting cold water and a lot of debris. Fishing is slow, but there were a lot of bank anglers in Wawawai Canyon this week, and enough were catching fish to make the trip worthwhile.

An ice shelf extending from shore has made the Grande Ronde River difficult to fish.

Water temperatures at Whitebird on the Salmon River were hovering around freezing at midweek. Call ahead to Riggins before making the trip to see if the river is fishable.

Steelhead anglers fishing the Lyons Ferry area from shore have had a few good days sandwiched between numerous skunks. Fish are visible in the area, and the locals are blaming the persistent high pressure ridge for the bad fishing.

Fishing is tough from shore on the Methow because of ice. Persistent fly fishermen and jiggers are taking a few, but the hot fishing from boats in the estuary at the mouth is over for a while. This area is completely iced over.

Trout and kokanee

Hog Canyon ice is about 4 inches thick over most of the lake, but there was open water Wednesday at the far end. Fishing has been slow at times, but the trout are mostly large. Hog Canyon fishes best early. Stay in shallow water and keep it small. Fourth of July ice is also 4 inches thick. Fishing there was slow this week, with fish more than 14 inches the rule.

At Hatch Lake in Stevens County, ice is thin around the ramp, but thicker as you head south. Ice fishermen are catching 12- to 15-inch trout with the best bite early and late. Williams Lake trout average a little larger, but despite the aerators, ice thickness is around 4 inches. Several anglers standing on the edge and fishing in open water at the aerators on Wednesday were catching fish, but this can be dangerous.

Rock Lake has been a bright spot for area trout anglers. Rapalas and big flies with flashers are taking browns running a couple of pounds.

Rainbows are somewhat larger. A slow troll at depths of 10-25 feet will put you in fish.

Lake Roosevelt trout fishing has been what one angler described as “pathetic.” Banks anglers are doing nothing, and boat anglers call it a good day if they catch one. The apparent shortage of fish is more obvious when compared to the phenomenal fishing last winter.

Rufus Woods Reservoir has been tough this week. The best bite has been along the can line near Chief Joseph Dam. If you plan to launch at Seaton’s Grove, pack chains and a shovel because the ramp is icy.

The Okanogan’s Roses Lake was stocked with 15,000 rainbows recently, but anglers report poor fishing. Roses is getting some ice around the sides, but the launch is still open.

Spiny ray

A friend who lives at Eloika Lake measured the ice at his dock at 4 inches this week. There was no one fishing. Early in the week, Silver Lake perch fishermen were still out in boats and reported a good bite jigging small Swedish Pimples and Kastmasters with maggots.

Walleye action has been reported from the Goose Island Area of Potholes Reservoir. The Lind Coulee Arm and the humps between Goose Island and Frenchman’s Wasteway have been productive.

Most anglers are catching their walleye on blade baits and 6-inch Swim Jigs. Walleye fishing has been poor at Lake Roosevelt but good some days at Rufus Woods.

Other species

Lake Roosevelt burbot are in relatively shallow water (30 feet) and hitting jigs with plastic tails sweetened with a piece of nightcrawler. The mouth of Hawk Creek has been good. Roosevelt burbot are seldom more than 5 pounds, but they are a delight on the table.

A razor clam dig has been approved for the holidays during an evening opening Thursday and next Friday at Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis and Mocrocks beaches.


Bird hunting opportunities are still available for grouse, pheasant, quail, chukar and grey partridge, but the eastern Washington turkey season closed Thursday. Pheasants are wild and scarce and quail are just scarce, but some decent chukar hunting is available for gunners willing to crawl high into the Snake River breaks.

The Columbia River in the Tri-Cities area is said to be covered with geese, and several concentrations can be found on the Snake near Central Ferry. Duck hunting is still disappointing in the Moses Lake area, though there are still geese around.

At Yankin’ Jaw Guide Service, Craig Dowdy said there are huge concentrations of ducks and geese on the Pend Oreille River south of the bridge at Usk and added that as the season progresses, the birds move north from Newport. He is seeing a lot more widgeons, redheads and bluebills than mallards, but some days they are spooky and have a tendency to land near houses on the river where accessibility is limited. A good goose spread will draw both ducks and geese to the islands. Once there, the decoys may be set out by wading in shallow water over a sand bottom. The river sloughs are frozen.

Contact Alan Liere by e-mail at

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