The Coeur d’Alene is moving pretty fast and wading is tough. Fish the slower water. Skwalas, March browns and grey drakes are showing. The St. Joe is dropping slowly and water clarity is good. Hatches are the same as on the Coeur d’Alene. The Clark Fork is high, but some fish are moving during the afternoon hatches.
Salmon and steelhead
Steelhead are being caught at a fairly fast clip on the North and South Fork Clearwater and on the Salmon River drainage, especially from the Pahsimeroi River to the East Fork Salmon River.
Trout and kokanee
WDFW fish hatchery crews have stocked 17 million trout and kokanee in lakes on both sides of the Cascades. Those fish include 2.3 million catchable trout, 160,000 jumbo trout weighing up to 11 pounds apiece, and 52,000 triploid trout averaging 1 1/2 pounds apiece. There are also millions of smaller trout that were stocked last year that have grown to catchable size. Angler success on opening day, Saturday, should be excellent. Water access site locations can be found on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/lands /water_access/.
Fish biologist Randy Osborne said a couple of Spokane-area lakes in particular should be excellent on opening day. West Medical was recently stocked with 13,500 catchables (defined as trout 11-12 inches), 900 triploids of 14 inches and larger and 300 rainbow broodstock of 17 inches and larger. Last year’s 5,000 spring fry are a fat 9-11 inches and the 5,000 fall fry slightly smaller. Osborne said Fish Lake near Cheney will probably be the best in Eastern Washington. Fish Lake is only 47 acres, but it was stocked with a whopping 5,000 catchables, 500 triploids and 1,500 brook trout broodstock that run 15-18 inches.
Fishtrap and Williams Lakes are down slightly from a couple of years ago, but anglers should do OK there also. Both lakes hold rainbow of all sizes, including catchables. Williams also has cutthroat and tiger trout. Fishtrap was given 900 1 1/2-pound rainbow and 100 broodstock. Clear Lake was planted with more than 10,000 catchable rainbows as well as a few broodstock. It also has some good-sized brown trout.
In Stevens County, Mudgett and Starvation lakes have good numbers of catchable rainbow and carryovers. Deer Lake has been open since March 1, but fishing is now getting good. A 17-pound mack was pulled from Deer recently. Two weeks ago, the lake was given an infusion of 12- to 16-inch broodstock brook trout in hopes they would help control the exploding bass population. Anglers are encouraged to release these brookies, as there are plenty of large carryover rainbow, catchable-size rainbow and brook trout plants in Deer.
Loon Lake is usually one of the best opening-day destinations for mackinaw. Last year, some nice kokanee were already biting on the opener. Loon was recently stocked with 700 rainbow averaging 1 1/2 pounds each, as well as 200 rainbow broodstock.
In Ferry County, Lake Ellen should be good with a plant of nearly 2,500 catchable rainbow. Waitts Lake got 350 broodstock rainbow. Waitts also has a good number of locally raised catchable rainbow and browns and many carryovers from last year. Nearby Jump-Off Joe typically kicks out some large brown trout on the opening weekend. Diamond Lake in Pend Oreille County is a pretty consistent rainbow producer.
Okanogan County lakes worth checking out include Alta, Conconully, Conconully Reservoir, Fish, Leader, Pearrygin and Wannacut.
Sprague Lake was recently planted with 25,000 6- to 8-inch rainbow that are a bit of a nuisance as anglers there are accustomed to much larger fish. Cow Lake, part of the Sprague Lake system, is also yielding the smaller trout. Friends who fished Cow Lake this week said they caught more bass than trout – some as large as 2 1/2 pounds.
Lake Chelan kokanee fishermen found the 15- to 17-inch fish less cooperative this week. Many anglers start at the blue roof condos and go prospecting at other spots throughout Mill Bay at depths from 40-70 feet.
Rufus Woods triploid anglers are catching fair numbers of 16- to 18-inch fish at the second set of net pens. Fish Lake in Chelan County has many feisty 9- to 11-inch rainbow. A chrome dodger and larva fly combination works well.
Crappie fishermen at Long Lake are beginning to take some fish with small jigs fished 4 feet under a bobber in shallow water near Tum Tum. Crappie are staging to spawn and the fishing should get hot soon. An occasional northern pike has been reported.
Potholes Reservoir is beginning to produce more consistent bass action and the Lind Coulee is yielding walleye, many quite small. A walleye tournament on Potholes May 4-5 should give anglers a better idea of how fishing will be this year. It is expected that some large ’eyes will be weighed in by some of the best walleye anglers in the Northwest.
Turkey hunters report much better success this week than last. Many of the birds have broken into smaller flocks, which make calling more effective.