December 28, 2012 in Outdoors

Hunting and fishing

By Correspondent
Tip of the week

Because it is difficult to age a Canada goose, it sometimes doesn’t matter how you cook it – it will be tough. A friend reports excellent success by cooking his goose for an hour in a crock pot with two cups of water in the bottom. After an hour, he pours the greasy water out, washes the goose in hot water to rid it of additional fat, stuffs in a couple of sliced apples or oranges, and returns it to the pot for 12 hours of slow cooking in water and an onion soup mix. The finished product should fall off the bone.


Chances for a long chinook season with liberal limits next spring are looking slim. If forecasts prove accurate, 2013 will see a lower return than 2007, when only 86,000 upriver spring chinook returned to the Columbia.

Heads up

• The new online reservation system for hunting on private lands is expected to be up and running before the start of spring turkey seasons. In the meantime, WDFW has developed alternate arrangements in Whitman and Garfield counties where participating landowners have been notified they can allow access by written permission, using slips supplied by the department. To hunt on those properties, hunters must contact one or more of the landowners enrolled in the Hunt by Reservation program and receive written permission to hunt.

• Idaho Fish and Game wants to hear from hunters about proposed changes to moose, bighorn sheep and mountain goat seasons and rules for 2013-14. These will be posted on the Fish and Game website for review and comment. The proposed changes will be submitted along with public comments to the Idaho Fish and Game Commission for consideration and action. Comments may be entered online, by email to or by mail to Moose, Goat, Sheep Comments, c/o Idaho Fish and Game, P.O. Box 25, Boise 83707. Public comments are due by Jan. 9.

• Contrary to the contention of several hunters I’ve talked with recently, lead-coated copper shot is not legal for waterfowl. The confusion arises from misreading the nontoxic shot requirements at the bottom of page 22 in the WDFW migratory-game pamphlet. It says: “coatings of copper, nickel, tin, zinc, zinc chloride and chrome on approved nontoxic shot types are also approved.” The key words are “on approved nontoxic shot types.” Lead is not an approved nontoxic shot type.

Fly fishing

Whitefish can be the saviors of sanity for fly fishermen this time of year. The Coeur d’Alene River has them, and you might also catch a trout. Other rivers, such as the St. Joe, Clark Fork, Clearwater and Kettle also have whitefish.

Salmon and steelhead

Steelhead anglers aren’t going to have much success from here on by fishing the main stem of big rivers. This is the time to head to tributaries such as the Grande Ronde, Salmon and Clearwater. Even then, cold water and fewer fish are making catching difficult. The Clearwater, for example, is seeing perfect water but few fish. The Grande Ronde, where fishermen expected to catch five steelhead a day in banner years such as 2009, is giving up less than one fish a day per angler.

Starting New Year’s Day, anglers will be required to use barbless hooks until further notice when fishing for salmon, steelhead and cutthroat on a large section of the Columbia River.

The rule issued by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife will affect sport fisheries from the mouth of the Columbia River – including the north jetty – upstream to the state border with Oregon, 17 miles upstream from McNary Dam. Under the new rule, anglers may still use single-point, double-point, or treble hooks in those waters, as long as any barbs have been filed off or pinched down.

Monday is the last day to fish for steelhead in Mill Creek (a Cowlitz River tributary) and salmon in the Elochoman, Grays (including West Fork), Tilton and Washougal rivers, the main-stem Columbia from the I-5 Bridge upstream to the Highway 395 Bridge at Pasco, and Drano and Mayfield lakes.

Small Coeur d’Alene Lake chinook are plentiful in 90-100 feet of water. Use the usual Mini-Squids and helmeted herring.

Trout and kokanee

Trout fishermen have had some good days at Rock Lake recently. Browns are willing to hit sinking Husky Jerks and other plugs in crawdad colors.

Lake Roosevelt is still excellent for 15- to 16-inch rainbow. Eden Harbor has been mentioned a lot lately, and it is a good place to try if the water is rough. Good reports also come from the vicinity of Split Rock, and the consensus is the fish are in the top 10 feet of water.

Triploid fishing has been good at time on Rufus Woods by anglers throwing bait from the Corps of Engineers Park and Brandt’s Landing below Chief Joseph Dam on the south shore. Quite a few 4-to 5-pound fish are taken there.

The winter trout lakes in eastern Washington are in a transition period – ice is forming, but not enough to walk on.

Things are supposed to start cooling off by Sunday, so perhaps there will be some ice fishing by next weekend on lakes such as Williams, Hatch, Fourth of July and Hog Canyon.

Ice anglers itching to get out might consider the Okanogan area where lakes such as Davis (near Twisp) and Patterson (near Winthrop) offer safe ice fishing for trout and perch.

Spiny ray

Eloika Lake is usually the first local water for ice fishing for perch, but snow has kept the ice thin and fishing is not advisable. Other perch destinations such as Silver and Long are also without fishing ice. Long is seeing some of the best open-water winter fishing in many years. Crappie and perch in 50-60 feet of water have been bending rods for several weeks.

Walleye anglers are finding fish near Two Rivers on Lake Roosevelt and also on Rufus Woods near Seaton Grove and on the humps at Potholes. Blade baits are working. Ice is beginning to form in back of the Potholes dunes and some skim ice is forming on Moses Lake.

Other species

Burbot are biting on Lake Roosevelt in the Spokane Arm, but other winter burbot destinations such as Bead and Sullivan lakes are without ice.

The recreational fishery in Bonneville Reservoir opens to white sturgeon retention seven days per week effective Tuesday through Feb. 10. Catch-and-release fishing for sturgeon will still be allowed between Bonneville and The Dalles dams when retention is not allowed.

State fishery managers have approved an end-of-the-year razor clam dig over four evenings, leading up to and including New Year’s Eve. They also announced a tentative schedule for additional digs in 2013. Information about both confirmed and tentative digs are available at shellfish/razorclams/current .html. The upcoming dig will begin today after noon at Twin Harbors and expand to include three other ocean beaches through Monday. Good digging tides are forecast.


This is an excellent time to find a coyote or two wandering about at midday. They are abundant and also conspicuous throughout the Palouse.

Flocks of gray partridge are being spotted in the snowy wheat stubble around Rosalia, Spangle, Reardan and St. John. Find a protected brushy draw near a food source or open water and you’ll probably find more than one pheasant.

A friend in Moses Lake said he is seeing good numbers of mallards returning to Moses Lake each morning. There is little snow in Grant County and the birds don’t seem in a hurry to move on.

There are still good numbers of Canada geese in Goose Management Areas 4 and 5. Area 4 is open today through Monday before resuming normal Wednesday and weekend openings until Jan. 21. At that time, they will be open every day until the end of the season on Jan. 27. Area 5 is open every day until the closure on Jan. 27.

Contact Alan Liere @

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