At Northwest Outfitters in Coeur d’Alene, Pat Way said area rivers are coming back to normal after being blown out earlier in the week. He said there is a short window of opportunity on the Coeur d’Alene River, from about 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. during which nymphing can be absolutely excellent. Way said if possible, anglers should keep two rods handy – one with a nymph and one with a dry fly to take advantage of the extremely short afternoon hatches.
The Clearwater and Grand Ronde rivers were blown out after the big rains around New Year’s, but they are settling back into fishable condition and could even be good by the weekend. The Clearwater needed a push of water to bring up levels and the Grande Ronde was running at 1,200 cfs on Thursday – just about perfect for fly fishing.
Idaho anglers and hunters need new licenses for 2012. Washington anglers and hunters have until the end of March before a 2012 license must be purchased.
Steelhead and salmon
The spring steelhead season opened New Year’s Day on the Salmon, Little Salmon, Snake, Clearwater, North Fork Clearwater and South Fork Clearwater. All should be fishable.
The chinook bite on Coeur d’Alene Lake is fair, Jeff Smith at Fins and Feathers said. The biggest fish recorded last week was an 11-pounder from in front of Carlin Bay. Numerous smaller fish have been taken. Smith said to use herring at 90-100 feet over water averaging 120 feet deep. Troll the middle of the north end from Tubbs Hill to Arrow Point.
Trout and kokanee
WDFW fish biologist Chris Donley said he and two relatives fished Lake Roosevelt between Whitestone and Lincoln this week, landing nine rainbow and losing four others. Donley said they found most of the fish by trolling 6 feet down along the edges of sandy beaches, sometimes no more than 10 feet off shore. His party covered a lot of water, but where one fish was caught, there were always others, he said.
Other Roosevelt reports have not been so positive, but some anglers report moderate success around Hunters and in the San Poil arm. Colville Tribe fish counter Branditt West said she recently checked 14 trollers with only 12 trout and five bank fishermen with two. Branditt added that since September, she has only checked three kokanee.
Normally, good catches come in this time of year. That said, Frank Whitney and “Skipper” Bill Bongers fished Roosevelt for kokanee on New Year’s Day. A lot of patience and a slow troll from surface to 9 feet eventually put them into a school of kokanee ranging from 16-22 inches. Bongers said to watch for eagles which will indicate the location of fish on the surface.
Lake Chelan has been excellent for lake trout in the Trench. The Ace Hi-Fly is the ticket. Rufus Woods is yielding good catches of 2- to 3-pound triploids all around the net pens and off the beaches across from the net pens. Jigging is a popular and effective method, but the larger fish seem to prefer bait or bait look-alikes such as the Berkley Swim Bait. Remember that plastics, if scented, are considered “bait” and fish caught on them must counted as part of your two-fish limit.
Ice at Hog Canyon, Fourth of July and Sprague lakes has been compromised during the recent warm weather. Proceed with caution. It is not necessary to go out far from shore, particularly at Hog Canyon, but there is even a possibility of open water fishing by the weekend.
Walleye anglers on Lake Roosevelt are finding the fishing slow. Most fish taken are deep.
There were a few anglers on the ice at Eloika at midweek, but fishing for perch was slow. Eloika had 7 inches of hard ice before the warming spell, but some of that is gone.
Idaho ice fishing is good in places, but there is thin ice around the shorelines of most lakes. Don’t sneak out onto the ice early and not be able to sneak back off when it warms up later in the day. Round Lake is still fishable for trout and perch and Kelso is still good. Avondale, Gamble and Granite lakes have good ice, but the chain lakes are a mess and Fernan is soft around the edges. There were anglers on Hauser Lake on Wednesday.
Ice at Bead Lake is between 4 and 6 inches thick, but no one has been observed fishing for burbot. Lake Roosevelt walleye anglers still report catching a lot of burbot, which are one of the homeliest (but best-tasting) fish around. With a little practice, they are relatively easy to clean.
Washington State shellfish managers have announced tentative dates for evening razor clam digs during the next two months at Washington’s ocean beaches. Final approval depends on results of marine toxin tests that show the clams are safe to eat. The first dig is scheduled Jan. 20-21 at Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis and Mocrocks on evening tides. The second is planned during President’s Day weekend, Feb. 18-19, at Long Beach, Twin Harbors and Mocrocks.
High muddy flows improved the sturgeon bite over the weekend in the lower Columbia River. Boaters should be mindful of large debris floating down the river.
Good numbers of Canada geese are feeding in wheat stubble and winter wheat fields from Coulee City and Hartline down to Wilson Creek. Quail numbers are good in the same area wherever cover butts up against agricultural feeding areas.
Friends in the Columbia Basin say duck hunting is still tough. Two ducks per man per day is considered a good bag. Goose hunting is better.
Except for the beautiful weather and one suicidal pheasant, a midweek duck hunting trip to the Palouse River near Benge, Wash., was a bust for two friends and me. Duck activity, which had been considerable a week earlier when we were hunting pheasants, was almost nil. The river was running high and muddy.