Steelhead and salmon
Lake Coeur d’Alene chinook are still deep, though they should be coming to the surface soon. A Mini-squid and flasher at 90 feet is currently the way to go.
The Clearwater River offered fair-to-good steelhead fishing this week, getting a lot of attention from shore anglers throwing beads or jigs under a bobber. About half the fish are wild. Grande Ronde anglers also had a productive week. Fly fishermen are doing well.
Steelhead anglers are taking a few fish at Wawawai, either trolling or dunking shrimp off the rip-rap at the launch. A friend caught a wild 10-pounder this week by trolling a pink Hot Shot.
Steelhead fishing is good in The Dalles and John Day pools. Anglers are also catching a few steelhead and early spring Chinook on the lower Columbia River.
Trout and kokanee
More than 50 eastern Washington lakes open to fishing Thursday and some are now being stocked with trout by Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife hatchery crews. Five of the seven man-made lakes off the Tucannon River in southeast Washington’s Columbia County – Big Four, Blue, Deer, Rainbow and Spring – are well-stocked with catchable-size rainbow trout, including 8- to 12-inch one-third pounders and some 14-inchers up to or over a pound each.
In Asotin County, Golf Course Pond was planted with almost 3,500 catchables and 50 1-pounders. West Evans Pond had a plant of 4,455 catchables
Also open Thursday will be Amber, Coffeepot, Downs, Deer and Liberty. At midweek, Deer and Liberty still had ice, though the ice on Liberty is clouding up.
Spectacle Lake in Okanogan County opens Thursday, as do Lenice and Nunnally. Both are expected to provide good fishing, though Nunnally is tougher to pattern.
The rest of the Thursday opening waters are in central Washington’s Columbia Basin, most in Grant County. All are listed under “Special Rules - Eastside Lakes” in the 2012 fishing regs. According to Chad Jackson, Region 2 fish biologist out of Ephrata, all lakes should be ice-free or nearly ice-free. Sample fishing this week yielded lots of healthy rainbow. These lakes include Upper, Lower and East Caliche south of Quincy, Burke and Quincy, and lakes in the Pillar-Widgeon chain. Don’t overlook Martha, Dusty and Lenore. Martha should be excellent, though Lake Lenore is usually a little slow this time of year. Dusty, a walk-in lake, is usually good.
Rock Lake in Whitman County is attracting quite a few shore fishermen who are throwing worms under a bobber for browns and rainbow. The browns often approach 20 inches in length.
One party of Lake Roosevelt anglers dragging pink Apexes 10 feet down on planner boards caught several big, bright rainbow recently in Spring Canyon and Swawilla Bay near Plum Point. Another group reported getting into a school of big kokanee in Spring Canyon and catching several on orange Rip’n Minnows.
Banks Lake trout fishing has been very good from shore in the vicinity of Coulee Playland. Most of these 2- to 4-pound fish are still quite bright, though it won’t be long before they begin to turn. Banks is expected to be at full pool by April 1. Water level is currently minus-8.
The Sprague Lake public launch is iced up, but shore fisherman are plying open water along the shore for a few large rainbow.
Spirit Lake kokanee anglers were catching a lot of small fish through the ice last week. This week, the ice may not be safe.
Lake Chelan mackinaw are still deep with trollers going to 240 feet and beyond for their fish. The bite has been good with a few big fish and a lot of little ones coming in. Anglers drop-shotting and jigging can pretty much catch all the 14-inchers they want from the lower lake up.
We are approaching the end of the ice-fishing season in the Spokane and Coeur d’Alene areas, though there was still safe ice at several lakes at midweek. These include Silver and Eloika near Spokane, where perch are the predominant species, and Fernan, Kelso, Granite, and Cocolalla near Coeur d’Alene, which have perch as well as trout. Ice at most lakes is breaking away from the shore, even where midlake ice is still thick. Some anglers are making board bridges to span this gap.
At Silver Lake, the perch bite seems to be spread out over the entire day rather than concentrated in a short morning window. I fished the lake twice this week, taking around two dozen fish each time. A friend who stayed on the lake after I left said a fellow next to him caught “an honest 14-incher.” I have never seen a 14-inch perch, and most of those caught at Silver are around 8 inches.
Upper Twin Lake in Kootenai County still has good ice. Perch fishing has been slow but steady straight out form the launch. The bite is light
Lake Roosevelt walleye anglers are looking for the bite to pick up as soon as the water starts dropping and the fish begin their spawning runs. Fishing is slow, but a few big ones are already showing. Anglers are beginning to take a few fish on the flats by Marcus Island.
On the Snake River, a few big walleyes are caught each week between the mouths of the Tucannon and the Palouse. Walleye angling is starting to pick up between Bonneville and McNary dams on the Columbia River.
The Lake Coeur d’Alene pike fishery is quickly picking up steam. Anglers throwing smelt or herring under a bobber from shore are catching fish in midlake bays such as Wolf Lodge, Carlin and Harrison. A few fish in the low 20s have been taken recently.
Burbot (freshwater ling cod) are moving into the shallower water in lakes such as Bead and Sullivan. Both lakes have ice covers, but if the ice is thick enough to be safe, there are some big ling available. Typically, ling will be holding in the deepest water, but by the end of February they can often be found on the bottom closer to shore.
The ling bite on Lake Roosevelt has been very good since the end of January, particularly near Hawk Creek and by Buoy 5 in the Spokane Arm.
Whitefish are spawning and in shallow water. Banks Lake is full of these fish and they are easily caught on small jigs and tubes.