April 5, 2013 in Outdoors

Hunting and fishing

By The Spokesman-Review
 
Tip of the week

Although May is usually considered the best month for largemouth bass fishing, don’t discount April. Big bass get that way partly because they begin feeding before their kin. In April, you’ll find them shallow where bait fish are feeding in the emerging vegetation.

Braggin’ rights

Two friends, Jerry Hawkins and Brad Waines, fished Deer Lake separately this week on different days. Hawkins, trolling for kokanee, caught a 26-inch mackinaw on a Wedding Ring. Waines, trolling for rainbow, caught a 26-inch mackinaw on a small Silver Magic.

Overheard

A tremendous run of smelt is occurring in the Columbia this year, and it’s possible this accounts for the smaller number of sea lions that have shown up at Bonneville Dam.

Heads up

• Spokane Fly Fishers annual Spring Extravaganza will be Wednesday from 5-7 p.m. at the St. Francis School, 1104 W. Heroy. In attendance will be flytiers and representatives from WDFW with lake reports, Project Healing Waters, fly shops, resorts, the Steelhead Coalition and Dry Fly Distillery. The organization’s meeting will begin at 7.

• The Spokane Arm of Lake Roosevelt is now open to walleye fishing from the mouth (SR 25) to 400 feet below Little Falls Dam and the lower San Poil River. There is a 16-fish limit per person with no size restrictions.

• The spring chinook salmon season in the lower Columbia River got off to a slow start, but the river is warming and the run has begun. WDFW has extended the season through April 12.

Fly fishing

Newman Lake water is very murky, but fly fishermen are hooking some solid largemouth on the edges of the flats on the northeast end. Large pike flies in a variety of colors are accounting for the action.

This is the time to hit McGinnis Lake on the Colville Indian Reservation for big brook trout. Nearby Buffalo Lake also has brookies, as well as rainbow and kokanee. Chironomids and leech patterns are best for the brookies. Licenses are available at the Exxon in Airway Heights.

Salmon and steelhead

Several marine areas of Puget Sound are still open for salmon, but anglers might want to turn their attention to the Strait of Juan de Fuca where fishing for blackmouth has recently improved, especially off Sekiu. Time is running out to hook a salmon in Marine Area 5 (Sekiu), as well as Marine Area 6 (eastern Strait) as the two areas are open only through April 10.

Most steelhead sport fisheries are now closed in the Columbia, though the upper Snake is open until Thursday, as are the Clearwater and most of the Salmon River sections. The Grande Ronde closes April 15. A “bank only” fishery adjacent to WDFW’s Ringold Springs Hatchery near the Tri-Cities also runs through April 15.

Trout and kokanee

Catch-and-release fishing at Amber Lake has been good. Amber is under selective-gear rules and shifts to a catch-and-keep season on April 27 when the daily limit will be two trout of at least 14 inches. Rainbows with clipped adipose fins caught at Amber must be released even after April 27.

Coffeepot Lake is producing rainbow trout, mostly on flies. Coffeepot is under selective-gear rules. Rufus Woods and Sprague are slow.

Rock Lake has been consistently good for brown and rainbow trout. Another year-round trout fishery that provides a secluded and productive experience for anglers willing to walk a mile is Z-Lake on the Swanson Lakes Wildlife Area in Lincoln County.

Rainbow action continues for bank fisherman on Potholes Reservoir using Powerbait, salmon eggs and nightcrawler/marshmallow “sandwiches.”

April 1 openings within the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge include the Pillar-Widgeon chain of lakes, which are providing fair-to-good rainbow fishing. North and South Teal lakes, south of Potholes Reservoir, are yielding 12-inch rainbow. Some of the best fishing is at Dry Falls Lake at the north end of Grant County near Coulee City, a selective-gear fishery with a one-fish daily catch limit, and no internal combustion engines.

Some year-round lakes in the Columbia Basin are producing excellent catches of rainbow. Upper Goose, Blythe and Corral are all good, with Upper Goose providing consistent limit catches of 14- to 18- inch rainbow.

Spectacle Lake, just south of Loomis in Okanogan County, opened April 1. Anglers are catching rainbow 10-14 inches. Several other Okanogan County rainbow trout fisheries shifted to catch-and-release-only fishing under selective-gear rules on April 1. These include Campbell, Cougar, Davis, Green and Lower Green, and Rat lakes. Davis Lake, near Winthrop, is still frozen, but when it is ice-free, it providers good fishing for rainbows in the 10-14 inch range.

The best bets in Okanogan County are Pearrygin Lake, near Winthrop, with 10-13-inch rainbows. Conconully Lake and Reservoir have lots of rainbow trout and kokanee. Alta Lake, just west of Pateros, provides excellent fishing for rainbow trout to 15 inches, and Wannacut Lake, near Oroville, has 10-13-inch rainbows.

The hot kokanee fishing is still going on at Lake Chelan. You can find them getting closer to Lakeside as well as on the Bar. Lake Roosevelt, too, has been good for large kokanee, though the rainbow fishing is off. Friends trolling specifically for kokes this week took limits three days in a row, the largest fish running well over 3 pounds.

Spiny ray

The Coeur d’Alene Chain lakes as well as the main lake are giving up pike and a few very nice largemouth. Hayden Lake crappie are on the bite.

Walleye anglers between Fort Spokane and Porcupine Bay have had some excellent days recently. Blade baits in 25-30 feet of water have put a lot of fish in the boat.

Walleye fishing at Lyons Ferry has been poor compared to other years. Smallmouth are beginning to bite in the Snake River, though, with the best success upriver from Lewiston.

Other species

Guide Tim Johnson of Clarkston says his first sturgeon trip of the year in Hells Canyon was a success with two clients catching four fish including one 5 feet, 6 inches long and one 8-2. All were hooked on anchovies.

Sturgeon fishing has picked up in the Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam. Boat anglers in The Dalles and John Day pool are also catching some legals.

Hunting

The general Idaho season youth turkey hunt runs Monday through Sunday. Idaho youths who are 10 to 15 years old by Monday may participate, but must be accompanied by a licensed adult 18 years of age or older who must be within normal conversation or hearing range. The general Idaho spring turkey season runs April 15-May 25.

Washington spring turkey hunting for youth is this Saturday and Sunday for hunters under 16 years of age. The general season runs April 15-May 31.

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission has extended the current wolf hunting season in the Middle Fork and part of the Dworshak-Elk City wolf management zones through June 30 in the Middle Fork units 20A, 26 and 27 and in the part of the Dworshak-Elk-City Unit 16 north of the Selway River.

Contact Alan Liere at spokesmanliere@yahoo.com


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