March 4, 2011 in Outdoors

Hunting and fishing

By Correspondent
Tip of the week

It may not feel like spring, but the Pend Oreille pike don’t seem to mind. You can catch them now by ripping your lure through the water, then bringing it to a complete stop. Wait about 10 seconds, then rip it again. The hit often comes on the drop.

Braggin’ rights

Silver Lake perch anglers should take a bow this winter. The ice is completely free of the trash that usually accumulates on area ice fishing lakes by the end of the season.

Heads up

• Little Canyon Shooting’s annual Kid’s Day, sponsored by the National Shooting Sports Foundation and local businesses, is Sunday at the Peck, Idaho ranch beginning at 8:30 am. It is a totally free day set aside for kids that may not have access to upland game bird hunting. Any youth age 10-16 who has completed hunter safety (required only for pheasant hunting) and would enjoy a day of pheasant hunting, sporting clay shooting, practice on the .22 rifle range and life-size targets on the archery range, may participate. Guns, ammo and lunch provided. Volunteers are needed. Call for info and directions: 208-486-6235.

  • Spokane Fly Fishers’ March 9 conservation fundraising raffle begins at 7 p.m. with viewing and ticket sales at 6 p.m. Raffle items include a pontoon boat, flies, fly rods, guided fishing trips and much more. Location is St. Francis School, 1104 W. Heroy.

• The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission will accept public comments on big-game hunting seasons and other issues during its March 4-5 meetings in room 206 A/B of the Spokane Convention Center, 334 W. Spokane Falls Blvd. One of the more controversial issues for the Saturday meeting will be whether to adopt a proposal to impose antler-point restrictions in two Stevens County units. Meetings will convene at 8:30 a.m. both days.


• About 760,000 fall chinook are expected to return to the Columbia River this season. That’s about 112,000 more chinook than last year’s return and would constitute the fifth-largest run since 1948. More than half of the chinook forecast is expected to be “upriver brights” headed to the Hanford Reach area and the Snake River. That would be the second-largest run of upriver brights since 1964, when fishery managers began keeping records. Anglers between Buoy 10 and Portland are said to be hammering the chinook this week.

Fly fishing

A few fly fishermen are targeting the large Omak Lake Lahontan cutthroat feeding near shore on the north end. Casting black streamers to pods of cruising fish has been effective. As the water warms, the lake should really take off.

Trout, kokanee

Because of ice, anglers must still wait to fish most of the local lakes that opened March 1. Coffeepot, for example, still has seven inches of ice and is probably not safe for fishing. Nearby Twin has bad ice, and Amber was covered with ice too thin for safe walking. Deer Lake ice is still okay, but no one is fishing.

Up north, Hatch Lake has 10 inches of good ice and limits of trout are still the rule. The larger fish run 14-15 inches, the smaller ones 9-10. One angler reported excellent luck using a white crappie tube jig. Williams Lake is also producing, with the rainbow just a little smaller.

Rock Lake brown trout are averaging about 14 inches. Trollers dragging J-9 Rapalas are finding consistent action.

With the exception of Burke, the desert lakes in Grant County didn’t get much attention on the March 1 opener. There was ice, but also open water on all, and anglers who participated did well. Trout at Burke were cookie-cutter 14-inchers, and the best bite was close to shore using both bait and lures. The Trout Derby at Burke Lake on Saturday is a go.

Several of the Colombia County trout lakes that opened on March 1 have not been stocked because of ice. Fishable lakes where the trout bite was good were Blue and Spring. Rainbow Lake was slushy at midweek, but will probably be fishable by the weekend.

Lake Roosevelt is dropping quickly and trout and kokanee fishing is getting tough. Colville Creel clerk Branditt Westsays some of the launches are now unusable. These include Crescent Bay, Jones Bay, Daisy, Snug Cove, French Rock, Napoleon Bridge and China Bend.

Kokanee fishing is starting to take off at Idaho’s Spirit Lake and some are also being iced at Mirror. The Coeur d’Alene Lake chinook bite usually begins to pick up at this time of year, but there have been few boats out because of the weather.

Steelhead, salmon

The Clearwater River is fishing pretty well for steelhead above Orofino and the South Fork is picking up. The Grande Ronde is likely to soon be getting the runoff from two feet of wet snow that covered the Blue Mountains this week.

The area on the Colombia between the I-5 Bridge and Rooster Rock opened to boat angling on March 1. Bank angling is currently allowed between Buoy 10 and Bonneville Dam. Spring chinook are biting, many of them the larger, 5-year-old fish exceeding 20 pounds.

Spiny ray

Anglers fishing through a foot of ice at Eloika Lake are still icing perch, but those who know to suspend their jigs about halfway down in deeper water are also taking keeper-size crappie.

A friend and I braved the wind at Silver Lake Monday and were rewarded by not having to clean any fish. We started at 6 a.m. and quit at 9 with only four perch, which we released. We were the only anglers on the lake, which was slushy on top with five inches of solid ice below.

The Snake River near Starbuck is beginning to produce some walleye, says guide Richard Ellis of Starbuck, who is changing his focus because fast water is making steelhead fishing almost impossible on the Snake near Little Goose Dam.

Walleye anglers jigging edges and changes in bottom are finding lower Lake Roosevelt fish.

Potholes Reservoir is now ice-free and walleye anglers are scoring a few fish near the island. The water is still cold, but when the spawning run begins, look for big walleyes near the mouths of Crab Creek and the mouth of Lind Coulee.

Ice Fishing is holding up on the Idaho Panhandle, says Jeff Smith at Fins and Feathers in Coeur d’Alene. He says Cocolalla, Lower Twin and Fernan are producing perch in the 9-inch range as well as a few trout. For pike, try Sportsman’s Bay on Hayden or Upper Twin.

Other species

Sturgeon angling has slowed in The Dalles and John Day pools but should improve as the water temperature increases.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife plans to open ocean beaches to razor-clam digging for several days in March and April if marine toxin tests show the clams are safe to eat. The March dig is tentatively scheduled to begin after noon on March 19, then switch to morning hours March 20-22. Under that plan, digging will be allowed at four beaches – Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis and Mocrocks – March 19-20, then continue at two beaches – Long Beach and Twin Harbors – March 21-22.


A Washington spring wild turkey season for hunters under 16 is scheduled April 2-3 prior to the start of the general spring hunt April 15

Hunters may now purchase and submit applications for a 2011 spring black bear hunting permit. To be eligible for a permit, hunters must purchase and submit an application to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife by midnight Thursday. Hunting licenses, bear transport tags and bear permit applications may be purchased online at, by calling (866) 246-9453, or at any license vendor.

 Contact Alan Liere at spokesmanliere@

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