March 25, 2011 in Outdoors

Hunting and fishing

By The Spokesman-Review
 
Tip of the week

Fish the windy side of a lake in the spring. This is where the warmest water will be, where the plankton will be stirred up and where the bait fish will be – especially in coves and on points and banks.

Overheard

Lake Roosevelt anglers who assumed they were targeting walleye, are locating concentrations of trout near the bottom in 30-40 feet of water. Still-fishing with bait is putting them into a lot of fish.

Heads up

• Vernita Bridge (State Route 24) upstream to Priest Rapids Dam (Hanford Reach) will close to steelhead fishing at the end of March. The steelhead fishery at Ringold will remain open from April 1 through April 15, but is restricted to bank fishing only.

• Dworshak Reservoir kokanee tend to congregate near the dam during winter months, and when mountain snow packs are abundant and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dump water to make room for spring runoff, some fish are washed downstream. For this reason, Idaho Fish and Game officials have removed bag and possession limits for kokanee in the North Fork Clearwater River and Clearwater River downstream of the North Fork in Clearwater County through May 15. While anglers may take home as many kokanee as they can carry, the fish may only be taken by rod and reel, dip net or by hand. A valid Idaho fishing license is required.

Fly fishing

Dusty and Burke lakes in Grant County are providing fair fly fishing for 14- to 18-inch rainbows. Chironomid patterns along the shorelines are working under a strike indicator.

The skwala stones continued to be the most dominate insect on the Yakima River, but there have been some blue wing olive hatches in the early afternoon.  Most success has been subsurface using a dropper system with size 8 or 10 brown and beige color skwala nymphs and either a small mayfly nymph or a San Juan worm dropper.  Water flows are good for floating but a little high for wading. 

Black chironomids are nailing hefty Nunnally rainbow. Lake Lenore has not been as productive for cutthroats.

Trout and kokanee

A lot of Lake Roosevelt trout fishermen – even those with boats – are casting bait in coves. Limits have been common in a number of areas, including Keller Ferry, Lincoln and Hansen Harbor. Most fish are over 16 inches long.

Kokanee fishing on Lake Roosevelt has been very good for anglers willing to abandon traditional methods and try something different. Currently, a few fishermen are catching a lot of 3- to 5-pound kokes in Spring Canyon by pulling flies behind side planers in just a few feet of water. Go over those same fish using traditional trolling methods, and they spook.

Sprague Lake reports are few and far between, but trollers are catching rainbows – some over 5 pounds.

Amber Lake is not red-hot, but dark chironomids under an indicator will take fish, as will small gold spoons, Rooster Tails, and small metallic plugs. Remember that Amber is a selective-gear lake. Remove treble hooks and pinch down the barbs on the singles.

Rock Lake is high and bank fishing near the outlet is unproductive. Trollers are doing better dragging Rapalas with orange bellies. Flatfish are also good. Most fish caught this week were brown trout. Look for fish suspending in the top 15 feet over deep water. Liberty Lake reports are mixed, with some anglers saying the best bite is over and others say they are pounding both browns and rainbows. If casting, hammered gold spoons are a proven Liberty brown-enticer. Rapalas are effective on the troll.

Medical lake selective-gear anglers are catching rainbow, browns and tiger trout to 20 inches.

Roses Lake, in Okanogan County, is ice free now and pumping out limits of planter rainbows.

Steelhead and salmon

Spring chinook angling on the lower Colombia is slowly improving and should continue to do so as the water flows drop and clear.

The Methow and Wenatchee are providing excellent steelhead fishing right now, and the Okanogan can be excellent if you have the means to float it.

Steelhead fishing has seen a resurgence in the last week below Wells Dam.  Take advantage by fishing current breaks and seams with shrimp and bobbers. The fishery closes March 31. 

The Grande Ronde was running at 5300 cfs on Thursday and dropping slowly, but visibility was 1½ feet and anglers were catching a few fish by the acclimation ponds at Cottonwood. The water temperatures are around 43 degrees.

The Clearwater River is turning green again after several weeks of dirty water. The South Fork, however, is still blown out. The best steelhead fishing has been in the North Fork.

Coeur d’Alene chinook are in the top 20 feet of water on the south end, says Jeff Smith at Fins and Feathers, and though the fishing isn’t great yet, his boat took five fish in two days this week. Smith likes the Firetiger Rapala or something in black and silver.

Spiny ray

Walleye fishing on Lake Roosevelt has been generally good. Anglers jigging the dropoffs near Keller are finding their fish relatively deep. The Spokane Arm – which closes after March 31 – is running pretty brown, but anglers who stick with it are catching fish. The flats out of Seven Bays have been better.

Banks Lake walleye fishing is decent off the edges of flats in 35-40 feet of water. A few smallmouth are beginning to show in slightly shallower water using the same presentations – blade baits, drop shots and jigs. Locating them is the hard part, as they are concentrated in small groups. Historically, Banks Lake smallmouth begin to scatter during a weeklong period at the end of March and beginning of April.

Mike Meseberg at MarDon Resort on Potholes Reservoir says walleye fishermen are taking quite a few fish at Goose Island on the humps on the face of the sand dunes and in Lind Coulee. Blade baits account for the majority of takes.

The Chain lakes near Coeur d’Alene have been good for small pike. Use smelt or herring on bottom or under a bobber. Coeur d’Alene Lake is coming up, but water temperatures are still in the 30s. The good pike bite is a week or so away.

Fernan Lake, also near Coeur d’Alene, is beginning to give up some good catches of 9- to 11-inch crappie on the east end. Go with a small jig 2 to 3 feet below a bobber from boat or shore. Some bass and trout are showing also. The Chain Lakes, which are colder, are still a week away from a decent crappie bite.

Other species

I sampled the razor clam digging on Long Beach last weekend after a 40-year hiatus. From the small strip of beach on which I was digging I could see hundreds of diggers in either direction, and I was told it was that way almost the entire length of the 26-mile beach. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is tentatively planning another razor clam opening April 7-9 until noon each day at Long Beach and Twin Harbors, if marine toxin tests show the clams are safe to eat.

Hunting

With snow still lingering in the mountains, it seems impossible that turkey season is almost upon us. April 15 marks the beginning of the general seasons in both Idaho and Washington. Youth hunts will run a week before the general opener in Idaho and April 2-3 in Washington.

Contact Alan Liere at spokesmanliere@yahoo.com


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