November 23, 2012 in Outdoors

Hunting and fishing

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Tip of the week

Rather than winterizing your boat, winterize yourself and keep fishing. You’ll avoid crowds and find the fish closer to the top. Wear coveralls, take a space heater and a thermos of coffee and enjoy the crisp air. Rock, Roosevelt, Sprague and Curlew are worthy of consideration this time of year.

Braggin’ rights

My stepson, Evan Johnson, and I just returned from a four-day hunter/host whitetail hunt in Alberta. Although I was pleased with my nice 4x4, Evan was happier yet, downing a much larger 4x5 that scored around 145 and weighed almost 300 pounds.

Overheard

The Idaho Supreme Court has lifted an Idaho First District Court injunction that had blocked the opening of Idaho Fish and Game’s upgraded Farragut shooting range. The range has traditionally has been closed in the winter, however, and will not be open immediately to public use.

Heads up

WDFW enforcement officers are seeking information about a deer-killing spree that occurred near the intersection of Madison and Thorpe Roads by the Painted Hills Golf Course. Three whitetails were shot from the road in a no-shooting area at about 6:30 a.m. on Nov. 10. Two of the deer were left injured in the field. One was taken. Anyone with information is encouraged to call the Spokane Regional WDFW Office at (509) 892-1001 and ask for Officer Douglas King. Information can also be called in to the WDFW poaching hotline at (877) 933-9847, or texted to TIP411.

Fly fishing

The Coeur d’Alene River has been fishing well. Try midges and small blue-winged olives. Fishing should remain good until the water temperature drops.

November can be very productive on the Lochsa, Selway, North Fork and Clearwater rivers, and Kelly Creek. Fly anglers should focus on the deeper pools and use smaller nymphs to find fish. These streams have harvest and gear restrictions, so review the regulations.

Rocky Ford rainbow usually perk up this time of year. Fly fishermen throwing mini-leeches on the bottom end are catching big fish and a lot of them. Orange is a good color.

The whitefish is the Rodney Dangerfield of fly fishing – it gets no respect. This hard-fighting fish is common in Washington and Idaho and can grow to 20 inches. In Idaho, the Clearwater River below Orofino, the Selway, Lochsa, and North Fork Clearwater rivers all have excellent populations. Small wet flies fished just off the bottom in riffle areas works very well. Whitefish tend to school up more during winter and are more active than trout. Almost every major river in eastern Washington has a whitefish season that requires special hook sizes to prevent catching trout or steelhead. The Yakima, Wenatchee, Methow, Kettle, Pend Oreille, Spokane and Columbia rivers are all good.

Salmon and steelhead

The steelhead count at Lower Granite was 97,956 as of Nov. 18, which is about half of the annual average. Nevertheless, anglers are taking a fish every six hours both upstream and downstream of the Salmon River. The Salmon itself has been best from the South Fork to Pahsimeroi with a fish-per-seven-hours average. Clearwater steelhead anglers are averaging a fish every 12 hours from the mouth to Orofino Bridge and one every eight hours upstream of there.

Steelhead anglers are catching a few fish from shore on shrimp and bobbers west of the Snake River hatchery near Starbuck.

Chinook salmon are holding in the 70-100 foot depths on Lake Coeur d’Alene. Troll helmeted herring, flashers and mini-squids.

Heavy rains are going to raise the level of tributaries and make fishing tough for steelhead anglers on the Methow, Entiat, Wenatchee and Okanogan rivers. The fishing should still be good on the main stem Columbia River, and steelhead continue to be taken in good numbers near Pateros where 1/16- to 1/32-ounce jigs are proving effective. Fishing has improved in the Bridgeport area and below Wells Dam.

Trout

Amber Lake closes Nov. 30, but friends who continue to fish there are finding lots of big fish. They troll barbless, single-hooked Hotshots and Flatfish in golds and greens. Amber is noted as a fly-fishing lake, but regulations which stipulate special-gear rules do not exclude the use of plugs and spoons altered to make them legal.

The second half of the Lake Pend Oreille fall trout derby runs Nov. 23-25. Dale Hickman leads the adult rainbow division with a fish weighing 16.64 pounds and Jim Carothers leads the adult mackinaw division with a 27-inch fish weighing 6.38 pounds. Hali Morlin is at the front of the youth “A” division with a rainbow of 13 pounds. The north end of the lake has been most productive for rainbow suspended at 20 feet.

Lake Roosevelt dropped 2 feet last week, but trout fishing remains good. Trollers dragging Muddlers, Apexes, Rippin’ Minnows – the usual Roosevelt fare – are all doing well as long as they keep their offerings in the top 8-10 feet of water. (Don’t go deeper than the fish). Fish seem to be everywhere in the system, but consistent success is most common from Two Rivers to Sterling Point. The majority of trout are a fat 16 inches.

Rufus Woods has seen some outstanding triploid fishing between pumps 2 and 4. The fish have been holding near the weed beds.

Idaho anglers are finding good rainbow fishing from the shore and docks at Fernan Lake. The fish usually range from 11-13 inches. Nightcrawlers or Power Bait have been most popular.

Spiny ray

Northern pike fishing has been outstanding at times recently for Coeur d’Alene Lake anglers. Though no really large fish are being caught, the weeds are still good and the fish aggressive. A report from the Harrison area says a 15-pounder was caught recently on a Husky Jerk Rapala. Be aware that some Coeur d’Alene launches are too shallow for launching.

Walleye fishing on the humps on the face of the dunes at Potholes Reservoir has picked up considerably. Blades, jigs and spinners are all working. The perch bite has stayed good in the Lind Coulee and around Goose Island with 25-fish limits common.

Other species

November’s second razor clam dig will get under way Monday at Twin Harbors beach and run through Dec. 1, then expand to include openings at Long Beach on Thursday and Copalis and Mocrocks on Dec.1. All will be evening digs.

Idaho Power Company biologists have completed the first of a three-year survey of white sturgeon and report a diverse population of healthy fish in the lower Snake River between the utility’s Hells Canyon Dam and Lower Granite Dam. The study yielded sturgeon as short as 1.8 feet, weighing 1.3 pounds, all the way up to a 9.3-foot fish, and one that tipped the scales at 344 pounds.

Hunting

The 2013 Idaho licenses, tags and permits go on sale at 11 a.m. PST on Dec. 1., except for the nonresident Selway B elk tags which go on sale at 9 a.m. Nonresident hunters can buy their licenses and tags at Fish and Game offices, any license vendor, or by credit card by calling (800) 554-8685. They can also buy them online at the Fish and Game Website at http://fishandgame.idaho. gov.

On my trip home from Alberta this week, the farm land from Lethbridge to Tabor was packed with honkers and ducks. The weather there has been relatively mild and there is open water and lots of feed. Don’t expect to see those birds until temperatures drop and snow covers the stubble fields. That said, Mike Meseberg at MarDon Resort near Moses Lake says northern flights of ducks and geese are pouring in and hunters are enjoying consistent limits. There is a lot of open water, and if the weather remains mild, hunting will only get better.

Contact Alan Liere by email at spokesmanliere@yahoo. com

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