Hunting and fishing

Fly fishing

Amber Lake sometimes gets forgotten in the opening-day lowland lakes frenzy, but the lake is still producing good, if not fast, selective-gear fishing for some beautiful cutthroat to 18 inches as well as slightly smaller rainbow.

On Marshall Lake in Pend Oreille County, some nice-sized cutthroats are cruising the surface. It could be an excellent opening-day choice. Marshall is scheduled for a planting later in the month.

Now that the ice is finally off, Antilon Lake northwest of Chelan is pumping out 12- to 15-inch brown trout. Wooly buggers or Muddlers on a full sink line will do the trick.


WDFW has expanded the popular fishing area at the mouth of the Wind River by moving the outside boundary about 250 yards out into the Columbia River. The new boundary is marked by white buoys. The fishing area was expanded to help relieve crowding at the mouth of the Wind River.

Three sections of the Snake River opened to salmon fishing Wednesday – near Little Goose Dam, below Lower Granite Dam and near Clarkston. There aren’t enough chinook in the Snake to provide a viable fishery.


Anglers preparing for opening day of the 2012 lowland lakes season on Saturday can expect to reel in trout that are one-third bigger than last year. WDFW has released 3 million trout averaging 11-13 inches – 2 to 3 inches longer than last year. Those fish will join millions of other trout that were stocked last year and have grown to catchable size in lakes around the state. Many of those lakes have also been stocked with triploid and jumbo trout weighing 1½ to 11 pounds apiece.

Three of the best bets for the opener are Williams, Fishtrap and West Medical. Badger was a surprise last year with much better fishing than predicted. With the smallmouth bass population growing, it is supposed to be “off” again this year, but it did receive some 1½-pound fish.

Fish Lake near Cheney has both brookies and tiger trout with the latter expected to run 12-17 inches. Clear Lake could be good, but usually picks up steam a little later. Like many of the other opening-day lakes such as Loon and Diamond, have been given an infusion of about 750 1½ -pound trout. Loon is always good for a few large mackinaw during the first two weeks of the season.

Jump-Off Joe Lake always gives up some big rainbow and browns on opening day. Nearby Waitts has a good population of catchable rainbow and browns as well as a large carryover population. Farther north, perennial opening-day favorite Starvation Lake should be good, as will Ellen (north of Kettle Falls), which was stocked with catchable rainbow. Deep, Cedar, Potter’s Pond, Bayley, Rocky and Starvation should also be good, and don’t overlook Sacheen. North and South Skookum are inaccessible at this time.

Anglers don’t have to concentrate on recently stocked lakes for good fishing. Many area lakes that are open year-round or which had earlier openers have also received recent plants. Just a few of these are Downs, Liberty and Deer in the Spokane area and Big Bow, Hammond, Fish and Putters Pond near Wenatchee. Idaho lakes are constantly being “freshened up” with periodic plants.

Roses Lake, near Chelan, is still excellent for rainbow. To spice up the standard fare of overwintering 9- to 12-inch rainbow, WDFW planted some jumbos.

The big channel cats in Roses are also getting active. Recently, an angler caught a 9-pound tiger trout there.

Deer Lake was planted in mid-April with some 1½-pound trout, but there was also a recent plant of much smaller fish as they are numerous close to the public boat launch.

Spectacle Lake trout are up high. According to recent reports, trolling or casting dark spinners almost anywhere on the lake will net trout to 12 inches.

In Idaho, jig fishermen are beginning to take the 9- to 10-inch Spirit Lake kokanee that went nearly untouched during the winter because of poor ice conditions.

Spiny ray

Eloika Lake crappie are beginning to show, but the fishing is not lights-out. A friend fished there recently, catching a half-dozen over the minimum 9 inches. Other anglers report some decent largemouth fishing on Eloika throwing jerk baits, cranks and plastics.

Newman Lake bass seem to be awakening sooner than those in other area bass lakes. Water temperature is approaching 60 degrees in some bays and fish are already taking topwaters.

Downs Lake bass were less cooperative this week, but a few large perch are beginning to show.


Nonresidents can purchase Montana big-game and elk combination hunting licenses online. The licenses, good for antlered deer and elk in most hunting districts, can be used during the archery and general hunting seasons. There are about 1,700 nonresident big game and 2,150 elk combination hunting licenses available for this hunting season.

First-come, first-served nonresident hunting licenses available include Montana’s big-game combination license for $939, and the elk combination license for $789. The nonresident combination hunting licenses allow one to hunt for deer and elk or elk and include conservation, season fishing, upland-game bird licenses and the hunting-access enhancement fee. For more information visit FWP’s website at fwp.mt.gov. Click the “Nonresident Big Game & Elk Combo Licenses Now Available” banner.

Contact Alan Liere at spokesmanliere@yahoo.com

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