The Coeur d’Alene River is temperamental in winter, but it can fish well at times. Less than 3,000 cfs and dropping is much better than rising water. Double nymph rigs near the bottom are working in some areas, but a warm-up gets the midges going at midday.
In the Clearwater region of Idaho, good fly fishing opportunities for trout and whitefish are available in many of the larger streams and rivers. Cutthroat trout congregate in some of the deeper, slower pools. For either species, drift a beadhead nymph along the bottom.
Trout and kokanee
Hog Canyon Lake is full of 12- to 15-inch rainbow, and there’s a good chance you will catch your limit of two longer than 14 inches before you catch your five. Some anglers do not understand that once the two 14-inchers are taken, they cannot keep fishing for the other three, and numerous tickets have been issued. Single salmon eggs work as well as anything, and it is not necessary to fish deep water.
Sprague Lake hard water anglers are taking big rainbow near the public access on both sides of the island.
The trout fishing on Lake Roosevelt is not quite as fast in the Spring Canyon area as it is near Seven Bays and Lincoln, but is still good. A lot of fish are being taken at the mouth of the San Poil. Husky Jerks are working well, but it is almost impossible to find an offering that won’t work.
Rock Lake trollers are taking a lot of browns, but they are a somewhat skinny 14 inches. For bigger fish, particularly rainbow, troll deep.
The lower Rufus Woods net pen area is providing action for boaters dragging dark Wooly Buggers or jigging black marabous. Most of the fish are around 3 pounds, but there have been reports of a couple of fish in the teens and one more than 20 caught by anglers trolling Rapalas. The lower end of Rufus, near Chief Joseph Dam, has also produced good catches of triploids running 2-6 pounds. The fish are holding in the top 15 feet of water.
At Lake Chelan, 10-15 lake trout days have not been that unusual. This is the time of year the largest are caught. The odd landlocked chinook has also been reported.
Rat Lake in the Okanogan is frozen and giving up trout in varying sizes, with an average of about 10 inches. Fish Lake, also in the Okanogan, has larger trout as well as perch. The trout have been easier to catch than the perch.
Salmon and steelhead
Chinook action on Lake Coeur d’Alene is good at midlake around Carlin and Loff bays. A few fish are also being taken from Rockford and Windy bays and from the north end at Mica and Arrow Point. Bites come in the 90- to 120-foot range on flasher/mini-squid riggings as well as helmeted herring. The most popular setup is an 8-inch flasher with 24 inches of leader to a mini-squid. If you use an 11-inch flasher, stretch your leaders out to 36-48 inches. Helmeted herring become even more popular in January.
The Clearwater River can be hot one day and cold the next, but the B-run steelhead are worth the hours of inactivity. Shrimp and bobbers, marabou jigs and bobbers and cured eggs are enticing fish near Orofino.
The Columbia River between Pateros and Bridgeport has been excellent for steelhead. One of the traditional drifts is “the rocks,” below the mouth of the Methow. Rod Hammons of R&R Guide Service in Brewster said the excellent steelhead run this year has featured the largest fish in seven or eight years. Info: (509) 689-2849.
Friends and I fished Eloika Lake twice this week. We couldn’t find a steady perch bite, and many of the fish were small. Swedish Pimples tipped with maggots worked best in about 10 feet of water north of Jerry’s Landing. Both days, the bite started fast, died completely between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., then picked up slightly. We caught quite a few bass that had to be released because they were in the 12- to 17-inch slot.
Crappie are hanging out just under the ice at Eloika, and anglers who target them are making some decent catches.
Silver Lake near the town of Medical Lake is finally ice-covered and anglers who move around are hauling in perch. The deeper water (20 feet and more) has been best, The fish aren’t large, but neither are they the “dinks” of two years ago. Like Eloika, the best bite is early and again in the afternoon, beginning at about 1:30. Several anglers have related success stories using a chartreuse Genz Bug.
Fish lake in the Okanogan has plenty of ice, but thickness varies from spot to spot. The lake is loaded with medium-sized perch – not many jumbos, but not a lot of small ones either.
Ice fishermen were observed near the I-90 Bridge at Moses Lake this week. A variety of spiny ray as well as some trout are being taken.
In Idaho, Twin Lakes and the southwest end of Lake Fernan are good spots to catch perch and trout. Perch and trout in Twin Lakes are going after Swedish pimples. Use smelt or cut bait like herring for the pike there. In Fernan, catch trout using a glow hook. If tipped with maggots, this will also catch perch. Round Lake in Idaho has 6 inches of ice. Both trout and spiny ray are being caught.
Idaho seasons are open for waterfowl through Jan. 14 in the northern and eastern parts of the state and through Jan. 21 in the southwest. A valid 2011 hunting license and a migratory bird permit validation is required, but federal duck stamps from 2010 are good through the end of June 2011. In Washington, the waterfowl season remains open until Jan. 30. No new license is required.
In the uplands of Idaho, the seasons remain open on forest grouse, chukar and gray partridge through Jan. 31. The season on cottontails is open through Feb. 28 and on snowshoe hares through March 31. In Washington, forest grouse closed Dec. 31; pheasants, quail, chukar and gray partridge close Jan. 17; and cottontail and snowshoe hare close March 15.