November 30, 2012 in Outdoors

Hunting and fishing

By The Spokesman-Review
 
Braggin’ rights

Robert Bass of Deer Park, Washington, probably wishes there was a steelhead derby every week. In the Clearwater/Snake Steelhead Derby that ended Nov. 24, Bass won $500 for the second-largest fish of the derby (18.6 pounds), $250 for third-largest fish of the derby (18.24 pounds) and $500 in the fish skins competition. Bass just missed a really big payday when John White of Clarkston weighed in a steelhead weighing 20.07 pounds, claiming the $2,000 first prize.

Overheard

• Through August, a total of 143,381 lake trout have been removed from Lake Pend Oreille since 2006 – 69,742 by angling and 73,639 with nets deployed by hired fishermen. The number of adult lake trout has thus been reduced by well over 80 percent and this significant reduction has allowed the kokanee population to once again reach fishable levels. A six-fish limit will be in effect in 2013.

• A new feature of the Discover Pass allows purchasers to choose the start date for the annual pass. The new “choose your date” option is available online at www.DiscoverPass.wa.gov or in person from retailers who sell recreational licenses through the Washington. At the time of purchase, the buyer can activate the pass immediately or on any day within one year of the purchase date.

Heads up

• The Columbia River steelhead fishery will close at midnight Saturday from Wells Dam to Brewster. The Methow, Entiat and Wenatchee rivers will also close, but the Okanogan River will remain open.

• A proposed plan to restructure salmon and sturgeon fisheries on the lower Columbia River is now available for review on the WDFW website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/ conservation/fisheries/ lower_columbia/. The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission is scheduled to accept public comments on the recommendations during its Dec. 14-15 meeting in Olympia.

Fly fishing

Rocky Ford fly fishermen are throwing scuds, black Wooly Buggers and streamers for fast fishing on large rainbow.

Streamers and nymphs in the slower pools and back eddies on the lower Coeur d’Alene can still be good during a short window in the afternoon.

The Yakima River has fished very well with nymphs. Target the slots and keep it drag-free.

Salmon and steelhead

Black Friday was a very successful fishing day on Coeur d’Alene Lake for “Skipper” Bill Bongers and Frank Whitney. They limited on chinook, including Bongers’ 13-pounder and Whitney’s 10-pounder – a good warm-up for this weekend’s Gene Fink Memorial Derby sponsored by Fins and Feathers in Coeur d’ Alene. The fish were caught mid-lake.

Steelhead fishing on the Snake has been fair with the best fishing form the mouth of the Salmon River up. A jig tipped with shrimp has taken a few fish 6-8 feet down near the launch at Wawawai this week. The Salmon and tributaries had the best reports recently. The Clearwater and the Grande Ronde have been fair, with an average of about one fish for every 11 hours of effort. Water clarity is good.

Trout and kokanee

Eastern Washington’s four winter lakes open to fishing Saturday, and fish biologists say this will be the first time in 15 years all four lakes will be fishing well on the same opening. Central District Fish Biologist, Randy Osborne, says Hog Canyon and Fourth of July were pre-fished this week and both should be very good. Hog Canyon holds a variety of sizes ranging from 9-21 inches with an average of over 16 inches. Fourth of July fish will average over 18 inches and run 12-24 inches. Once two fish 14 inches or larger are retained from Hog Canyon or Fourth of July, your fishing is over for the day. Hatch and Williams lakes, north of Colville, should be outstanding with trout averaging 14 inches and many running well over 20.

Sprague Lake trollers dragging spinners, spoons or flies about 10 feet under the surface, are catching lots of trout over 2 pounds, including a few Lahontan cutthroat. Chartreuse has been a good color recently. The fish seem to come in bunches with dead times followed by a wild bite.

The catches at Rock Lake are changing from brown trout to more rainbows. Fishing from boats is a bit more successful, but anglers are still catching fish from the shore at the roadside access site.

Three friends who fished Lake Roosevelt in the Jones Bay area this week only caught four trout trolling flies. Not until they pulled into shore and began throwing nightcrawlers and Power Bait did the fishing pick up. They caught their three-man limit of trout in short order, all around 16 inches long. They noted the water in Roosevelt was more clear than they had every seen it.

A lot of excellent fishing reports have come from Roosevelt anglers this week and it doesn’t seem to matter what part of the reservoir is targeted. Pat Flanagan and Steve Wissink fished last Saturday between Keller Ferry and the San Poil, catching limits of 15-19-inch kokanee at midlake as well as the usual 16-inch rainbow. They said the kokes were in the top 20 feet of water.

Near Chelan, Roses Lake trollers are dragging Cone Head Muddlers with a Smile Blade at 15-20 feet for fast rainbow fishing. Bank anglers are also doing well for the 12-16-inch fish.

Rufus Woods is still kicking out limits of nice triploids for trollers in the lower basin between Pumps One and Four. Bait dunkers and jig fishermen are doing well on fish to 7 pounds inside the ropes at the net pens.

Banks Lake rainbow up to 5 pounds are being caught regularly from shore or boat.

Spiny ray

Bass fishermen are still catching largemouth and smallmouth from Long Lake, some of them quite large. In addition, die-hard crappie anglers are finding schools of fish holding on the channel edge in deep water. Drop-shotting jigs and swim baits in black and chartreuse with little or no movement is the key. Long Lake anglers are also taking an occasional northern pike as well as some large perch.

Newman is another productive cold-water bass fishery, and a few small tiger muskie have been caught as well.

Northern pike fishing remains good on Coeur d’Alene Lake. The fish are aggressively taking swimbaits and spoons. Look for the warmest water you can find over green weed beds and you have a good chance of catching pike. Jerk baits have worked best recently when dragged over the top and along the sides of these beds. Reel fast enough to keep the presentation down around 6 feet but not in the weeds.

Chatcolet is cold and murky and fishing is off. A lot of the fish will be small, but the bite can be crazy-good. For larger fish, try dead-baiting in the bays. A 32-pounder was reported taken last week

Perch are being caught in front of the Potholes State Park on Potholes Reservoir, as well as from the Medicare Beach area from either shore or boat. Walleye fishing on Potholes is slow for this time of year.

Rufus Woods Reservoir walleye fishing has picked up.

Hunting

For the first time in several years, small water has not iced over completely by the end of November. The Potholes area of Grant County has, however, seen a lot of fog. Mike Meseberg at MarDon Resort says the area is enjoying the best waterfowl hunting in years. For current hunting or weather information, call MarDon at (509) 346-2651.

Pheasant hunters are finding a few wild birds in the Palouse and more farther south along the Snake River. Bird hunters on the Yakama Reservation say cover is good and pheasant and quail population are the best in Washington.

Contact Alan Liere @ spokesmanliere@yahoo.com

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