December 21, 2012 in Outdoors

Hunting and fishing

By Correspondent
Tip of the week

While trolling, if you get a bite that does not result in a hooked fish, idle the motor for five to ten seconds so your presentation appears to have been stunned or crippled. This frequently results in the fish returning to finish the job. When you resume your trolling speed, it appears your lure is trying to escape, once again triggering the predatory response in the fish.

Braggin’ rights

Though I have never before heard of a tiger trout being caught from Potholes Reservoir, Pete Robinson of the Tri-Cities recently caught a 7½-pound fish there that sure looks like one. He was fishing for walleye with a silver blade bait.


The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission has approved a new management framework for Columbia River fisheries that allocates more salmon for the sport fishery and plans a gradual transition away from non-tribal, commercial gill-net use on the river. The plan calls for the elimination of gill-net use on the mainstem and encourages a switch to seine nets, which are believed to cause less harm to entrapped fish. That would allow wild, seine-caught fish to be released unharmed. The proposal is likely to be opposed from many quarters.

Heads up

• Washington hunters have a chance to win one of nine 2013 special hunting permits if they report this year’s hunting activities for black bear, deer, elk, or turkey to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) by Jan. 10.Those who meet the deadline will be included in a drawing for five deer permits and four elk permits in various areas of the state. To qualify for the drawing, hunters must submit a report for each black bear, deer, elk, or turkey tag they purchased and for each special hunting permit they received in 2012. All hunters, whether successful or not, are required to submit hunting reports for those species by Jan. 31. Failure to meet the deadline can result in a $10 fine, payable before a hunter can purchase a 2013 license. Report by phone (877) 945-3492 or the Internet

• Washington fishing rules require that all sport crabbers with winter catch-record cards submit catch reports for the winter season to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife by Feb. 1, even if they did not catch any crab. To submit catch reports, crabbers may send their catch-record card to WDFW by mail or file their report on a special webpage on the department’s licensing website. The mailing address is WDFW CRC Unit, 600 Capitol Way N., Olympia, WA 98501-1091. The online reporting system will be available Jan. 1-Feb. 1 at /puget_sound_crab_catch.html.

• Leader Lake, located 3 miles west of the town of Okanogan on Hwy 20, will be open Jan. 1 through April 26 so anglers can take advantage of an abundant spiny ray population. New regulations proposed for Leader Lake would open this water year-round.

Fly fishing

The Coeur d’Alene River has dropped enough to make afternoon streamer or nymph fishing for cutthroat worth the drive. Afternoons are best.

Steelhead rivers are still a little on the high side, but the Grande Ronde and Clearwater are starting to give up a few fish. Swing with a sink tip and large leech to cover more water, or try nymphs under an indicator for fish less willing to chase.

Salmon and steelhead

Steelhead anglers checked last week by Idaho Fish and Game averaged a fish every nine hours from the mouth of the Clearwater River to the Orofino Bridge, six hours upstream from there and 12 hours on the South Fork Clearwater. The best fish-per-angler average was two on the Salmon River downstream from Whitebird Creek, though only a few anglers were checked.

It’s not great fishing, but steelheaders with boats are still taking fish on the free-flowing upper Okanogan River. Fishing there from shore is almost impossible because of the ice shelf. The lower river near Brewster is frozen.

The bar below Wells Dam is giving up the occasional steelhead for anglers drifting jigs and bobbers. Water is higher than normal.

Trout and kokanee

Hatch Lake near Colville, is ice-covered, but there is not enough to safely support ice anglers. Nearby Williams, which is deeper and has an aerator, was not iced early in the week, so trout fishing may still be a possibility. South of Spokane, Hog Canyon was ice-free at midweek, and Fourth of July had patches of skim ice. Both of these should provide excellent trout fishing once the ice forms.

Lake Roosevelt, near the area known as “The Goat Farm,” was very good this week for rainbow trout. Trollers dragging perch flies or Rapalas from the surface to about 15 feet at 2.5 mph were taking limits if they could land even a third of the fish that hit. The water around Split Rock and Lincoln has also been good, with the Lincoln area being most consistent. It’s time to include a bag of sand in your fishing gear for the icy ramps on Roosevelt.

Though the bite is not nearly as fast, Sprague Lake trollers are using the same gear and presentation as Roosevelt trollers to take big rainbow from the middle of the lake in the deeper water. Chances of taking a 5-pound trout are excellent.

There have been good days and not-so-good days for those fishing at the lower end of Rufus Woods Reservoir. On a good day, numerous triploids to 12 pounds are caught. On an average day, most of the fish are in the 2-4-pound range. Spoons, black jigs and flies are all effective.

Anglers are fishing through the ice on Rat Lake in the Okanogan, catching lots of 10-12-inch trout.

The trout lakes around Coeur d’ Alene are still fishable from shore. Bait anglers are taking fish from Fernan, Hayden and the Chain lakes. Lake Pend Oreille is a good bet for big rainbows on top.

Spiny ray

Lake Spokane is still good for crappie and bass. Launching is possible at the Riverside State Park launch upstream of where the Little Spokane river runs in. You’ll need a Discover Pass and $7. The Willow Bay launch is open; the launch fee is $15. Anglers drop-shotting in almost 50 feet of water are catching 12-inch crappie and perch that are slightly smaller.

Deer were reported to be crossing Eloika Lake on the ice this week, but the 2 inches of ice is not enough to be ice fishing. Silver Lake, another popular winter perch destination, is not even close.


A two-day hunt in Grant County yielded five quail, one pheasant and nine mallards for friends Mike Vargas and Mike Sweeney last weekend. The quail hunting was in the sage brush around Potholes Reservoir, and several coveys were bumped when the duo left the blind to take the dogs for a walk. The duck hunt in the same area was dead one day and mediocre the next, but they said they saw numerous large flocks of geese and a fair number of ducks were moving ahead of Sunday’s storm.

There is no shortage of geese anywhere in eastern Washington, with large concentrations in Whitman, Grant and Lincoln counties. A friend, Brad Waines, and I, shot quick limits of big honkers pass-shooting in the scabrock near Coffeepot Lake on Wednesday.

Idaho waterfowl seasons are open through the holiday season and into January. Waterfowl hunters must have a valid Idaho hunting license – a 2012 license through the end of December and a 2013 license on Jan. 1 and thereafter, but the federal duck stamps are good through the end of June. In Washington, waterfowl licenses are good to the end of the season, which is Jan. 27 for most units.

Pheasant hunters are hoping the snow holds, as they are now finding roosters in huntable numbers under the trees in brushy draws in the Palouse. Pheasants are inclined to hold much better when there are a few inches on snow on the ground.

Contact Alan Liere by email at spokesmanliere

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