Hunting and fishing
Steelhead and salmon
The steelhead harvest report from IDFG indicates anglers are catching steelhead from the mouth of the Clearwater to Orofino at the rate of a fish every seven hours, but most are wild, resulting in an average of one fish kept every 80 hours.
Steelhead fishing improved this past week in the John Day Arm of the Columbia. Upstream of Philippi Park, the river is iced over.
Although steelhead fishing closes Monday on most of the upper Columbia, Bob Fately at Triangle Exxon in Brewster said this weekend would be a good time to get out. Fishing near Pateros and Bridgeport has been fair to good.
At Darver Tackle in Starbuck, Wash., Verna Foley said steelhead fishing is “sporadic.” Below the fish hatchery has been good at times, and the mouth of the Tucannon good more often than not. “The Wall” off Little Goose Dam, a mainstay for Snake River anglers in the area, is providing slow steelhead fishing, although long-liners below the wall are doing pretty well.
Trout and kokanee
Fourth of July Lake trout fishing has been good, but there is a lot of water on the ice. At Hog Canyon, the ice is thicker and anglers are taking trout longer than 16 inches. Fishing was poor Wednesday, but when it suddenly turns on, the big Hog Canyon trout provide a lot of excitement. Good fishing has been reported at Hatch Lake near Colville where the rainbows run 13 to 16 inches. Anglers have also been catching some fish in that range at Williams Lake.
Lake Roosevelt trout reports still are best from anglers fishing in the vicinity of Hawk Creek. One group of anglers said they limited by dunking worm and marshmallow sandwiches from shore. Less positive reports came from Seven Bays and Fort Spokane, although the occasional fish was landed.
Rock Lake continues to provide good fishing for browns and rainbows in the vicinity of Johnson’s Beach. The browns are close in, the rainbows deeper.
Banks Lake is up 8 feet from low pool and rising slowly. Few anglers are launching boats, but those fishing from shore are taking trout, Lou Nevsimal at Coulee Playland Resort said.
Rippin’ Minnows trolled behind four colors of leaded line are consistently taking limits of Rufus Woods triploids near the first set of net pens. Dark-colored jigs are also effective. Small Rufus Woods triploids are 2-3 pounds with larger ones to 8 pounds not uncommon.
Ice fishing opportunities are available at Patterson and Davis lakes in the Winthrop area, Rat Lake near Brewster, and Big and Little Green lakes west of Omak, WDFW Okanogan district fish biologist Bob Jateff said. “The predominant species at Davis, Rat and Green lakes is rainbow trout in the 10- to 12-inch range,” he said. Patterson Lake also has perch in the 7- to 8-inch range.
Spirit Lake kokanee fishermen are going to have to wait to begin taking the tasty landlocked sockeye through the ice. Spirit lost most of its ice cover this week.
Friends and I fished Eloika Lake on Monday and Tuesday. Ice was a solid 6 inches. Fishing has been typical of Eloika in the winter – a fast morning perch bite followed by several hours of dead time followed by a fast afternoon bite. On Monday, I started at 11:30 a.m. and quit at 1:30 p.m. with only two fish. Two friends who stayed out said the bite began as soon as I stepped off the ice, and they returned with two dozen fish each. On Tuesday, a friend and I started just north of Jerry’s Landing at 1:30 p.m. and fished holes 10 feet apart. I had 17 perch on the ice before he got a bite. We were both using green Swedish Pimples tipped with maggots. Included in the catch were a half dozen small bass (legal but released) and a half dozen crappie too small to keep. The crappie bite came on just as it began to get dark. Other anglers have reported catching some slab crappie at times. With the recent warming trend, there is likely to be standing water on top of the ice.
Silver Lake had only three anglers on the ice at 9 a.m. Tuesday. This is because the ice in the bay by the launch is only 3 inches thick. The perch weren’t biting. Last year, Silver gave up a lot of decent-sized perch from the deeper water to the right of the bay, but the ice took a long time to form there.
Upper Twin Lake has been good for small perch in 15 feet of water west of the public access and toward the middle, but the northern pike bite hasn’t materialized. Ice was in good shape early in the week.
At Fins ’n’ Feathers in Coeur d’Alene, Dale Odenbaugh said ice at most North Idaho winter lakes was sloppy on Wednesday. Until the recent rains, there were 4 inches of good ice at most lakes. Odenbaugh said he has recently fished Round (10-inch perch and some trout), Gambel (large perch if you can find them), Kelso (trout 10 inches and up), Avondale (a variety of spiny ray and trout) and Fernan (perch, crappie and 12- to 14-inch trout).
All Columbia River sturgeon fishing areas will open to anglers Sunday from the mouth of the Columbia to McNary Dam. From the Wauna powerlines upstream to Bonneville Dam (including all adjacent Washington tributaries), white sturgeon may be retained Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays only.
Anglers have been taking a few limits of 10- to 15-inch whitefish on the mainstem Yakima and its tributaries. Seasons for winter whitefish are open on the Yakima, Naches, Tieton, Cle Elum and Bumping rivers. Whitefish are also available on north Idaho and western Montana rivers. Fish are usually caught with a small fly tipped with a maggot. Up to 15 whitefish can be retained daily.
The application period for Idaho spring turkey controlled hunts starts Jan. 15 and runs through Feb. 15. That’s also the time to apply for spring black bear controlled hunts. Leftover tags go on sale April 1.
Pend Oreille River duck populations have diminished significantly from two week ago, Craig Dowdy of Y.J. Guide Service said. Dowdy hunted the river near Davis Slough on Tuesday.
His party shot a mixed bag of divers and puddle ducks, but hunting was just “OK.” Closer to Newport, where there were a lot of mallards earlier, there is scarcely a duck to be seen except bufflehead.
Contact Alan Liere by e-mail at spokesmanliere @yahoo.com