Lake Chopaka, a longtime favorite of fly fishermen in the Okanogan, opens April 27. Chopaka has been terrific the past two seasons, and is expected to be great again this year. It has plenty of 16- to 18-inch rainbow as well as some hefty triploid rainbows introduced three years ago.
Fly fishermen throwing red Ice Cream Cone tandem rigs from the rocks on the east side at Dusty Lake (Grant County) report nonstop action on rainbow running mostly 15-18 inches and larger.
The Coeur d’Alene, St. Joe and Clearwater are high but dropping and clarity is good. Decent afternoon fishing is available. Skwalas and March browns are prevalent.
Salmon and steelhead
The North and South Fork Clearwater have been good for steelhead, with a fish for every 3 or 4 angler hours. These are not prime fish, however, and most are being released.
Last week’s Chinook derby on Lake Coeur d’Alene saw brutal weather with no really large fish weighed. Anglers caught numerous Chinook under the legal 26 inches, however. Reports indicate the fish were in the top 30 feet of water.
Bank anglers are beginning to catch a few spring Chinook in The Dalles pool. As of Wednesday, 1,994 spring Chinook had passed over Bonneville Dam.
Trout and kokanee
Chelan Lake is still the go-to destination for large kokanee. Some anglers report success trolling at approximately 40 feet, but others say they are doing best at around 70 feet on a slow troll. Smiley Blades in front of standard kokanee spinners seem to make a difference. These fish are being caught in the trench, just above Lakeside, along the face of Mill Bay, up at the Yacht Club and over by the Monument. Most of them run 15-17 inches.
Deer Lake has been open since March 1, but fishing hasn’t been very good. That is changing now, however, with the plant of several thousand catchable rainbow and 500 brood stock brookies. More good news is that the lake’s 16- to 20-inch carryovers are finally biting, and trollers dragging rainbow Apexes close to shore under two colors of leaded line are taking macks averaging about 6 pounds.
WDFW has been busy stocking area lakes in anticipation of the April 27 opener. Some of those well-stocked waters around Spokane include Williams, West Medical, Fishtrap and Clear, said WDFW central district fish biologist Randy Osborne. Fish Lake near Cheney, which rehabilitated last year, should be very good this season, he said.
Bill Baker, WDFW northeast district fish biologist, said many trout lakes in Ferry, Stevens, and Pend Oreille counties that open on April 27 are traditionally good bets. Those include Stevens County’s Waitts, Cedar, Rocky and Starvation lakes, Ferry County’s Ellen and Davis lakes, and Pend Oreille County’s Diamond, Marshall and Sacheen lakes. Anglers can find how many fish went into what lakes at wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/plants
Fishing is expected to be very good on the many trout lakes in the Okanogan. All are ice-free. Fish Lake, near Omak, should offer excellent fishing for rainbow of 10-12 inches. Blue Lake, a quality lake in the Sinlahekin Valley, will be one of the best. It has both rainbow and brown trout and 12- to 16-inch fish are common. Wannacut Lake north of Tonasket is deep and cold and produces good-tasting rainbow. Spectacle and Roses Lake are already open, and both are seeing good rainbow fishing.
Wapato Lake, near Lake Chelan should have good numbers of 14- to 15-inch rainbow and a fair number of 20-inch carryovers for the April 27 opener. In addition to the smaller fish, the lake will receive a bonus plant of 4,000 large catchables and 500 jumbo rainbow.
The kokanee population on Lake Pend Oreille is on the rebound, and for the first time in several years fisherman will be able to keep six kokanee per day. The Angler Incentive Program bounty has been removed for rainbows, but it remains at $15 per fish for lake trout.
Nine Mile Resort on Lake Spokane is open now, and fishermen launching there are finding good crappie and perch fishing close by. Right now, fish are fairly deep at about 40 feet on channel edges, but they should begin moving closer to shore soon. The crappie are averaging 10 inches and the perch slightly smaller.
Area largemouth lakes like Eloika, Newman and Downs are still slow, but the warmer,0 shallow water offers up a large surprise fish now and then. All these lakes will also have improved crappie fishing as the weather warms.
Idaho anglers are doing pretty well right now on crappie. Fernan, Hayden and the Chain Lakes are all producing – small jigs tipped with maggots. Remember the 10-inch minimum on Hayden.
Walleye anglers are having some success in The Dalles and John Day pools. A few walleye and some bass are beginning to show on Potholes Reservoir and Moses Lake.
Fins and Feathers in Coeur d’Alene is again hosting a two-man pike fishing tournament out of Harrison on April 27-28. The entry fee is $50 per team and the combined weight of four fish per team per day determines the winner. Info: (208) 667-9304.
Palouse River channel cats are beginning to bite, with some fish over 10 pounds reported. This fishery will improve dramatically in the weeks to come.
The month’s second morning razor clam dig is tentatively scheduled to run Wednesday through April 30 on various ocean beaches. For details, see WDFW’s razor clam website at wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish /razorclams /current.html.
Turkey hunting was poor to fair on opening day, with many hunters reporting the birds to still be in large flocks.
Warming weather will change that, and success will rise, as there seems to be lots of birds available.