Salmon and steelhead
There has not been much angler activity on Idaho steelhead waters this week, but those fishing between the Clearwater confluence and the Orofino Bridge are catching a fish about every six hours. In Washington, steelhead fishing remains open on the Okanogan and Similkameen rivers.
Steelhead fishing has been up and down on the Columbia River with some of the best catches reported in the Ringold area. In the Tri-Cities area, the fishery is open for retention of hatchery steelhead from John Day Dam upstream to the wooden power-line towers at the old Hanford town site through March 31. Fishing was good in the John Day Arm last week.
Trout and kokanee
Fourth of July Lake was about half frozen when I stopped by on Sunday. Anglers who fished open water on the far end reported fast limits of mostly 15-17-inch rainbow. Hog Canyon has an ice cover, but only the end closest to the boat launch had decent ice at midweek.
Near Colville, Both Williams and Hatch lakes are fishable through the ice. There are a lot of nice-sized rainbow in both.
Lake Roosevelt rainbow fishing for the smaller 15-18 inchers has been “lights out” this week. Dodgers and flies on top are hard to beat. The Swawilla Basin is good. Anglers throwing bait from shore are also beginning to find fish.
Rock Lake is bursting with small, recently- planted rainbow which are a bit of a nuisance for anglers looking for larger ’bows and browns. Slowly retrieved spinners are effective, with fish from the surface down to 30 feet. Some traditional year-round fisheries in northcentral Washington now have enough ice for safe fishing. These include Patterson and Davis lakes in the Winthrop area, Rat Lake near Brewster, and Big and Little Green lakes west of Omak. It’s mostly a rainbow trout show at Davis, Rat, and Green lakes, with fish in the 10-12-inch range. Patterson Lake has yellow perch in the 7-8-inch range.
WDFW recently stocked several local ponds near Yakima with more than 400 broodstock rainbows, averaging 5 to 10 pounds apiece. I-82 Pond No. 4, Rotary and Myron lakes, and the pond at Sarg Hubbard Park all received some of the lunkers in December.
Lake Roosevelt walleye are scattered in small schools, but they’re biting. The 15-20-inch fish appear to be in excellent shape.
Eloika Lake fishermen have been testing the ice this week, and some are going out. It should be a lot safer by the weekend. Anglers fishing north of Jerry’s Landing report mixed bags of perch, bass and sunfish.
Silver Lake has iced over and may be fishable by Saturday. Good perch fishing at Silver usually begins in the bay by the public launch and moves down the lake as the winter progresses.
The new winter fishery at Leader Lake in Okanogan County provides offers an abundance of crappie, bluegill, largemouth and smallmouth bass, as well as rainbow trout.
Lake Roosevelt burbot anglers are starting to pick up a few fish from shore. The mouth of the Colville is a good spot this time of year. No report yet on Sullivan burbot. Bead Lake still has open water.
Winter whitefish seasons are currently open on the Yakima, Naches, Tieton, Cle Elum and Bumping rivers. Eric Anderson, a WDFW fish biologist, recommends anglers fishing for whitefish concentrate their fishing efforts in deep pools below riffles. Whitefish gear is restricted to one single-point hook with a maximum hook size of 3/16-inch from point to shank (hook size 14), and bait is allowed. Anderson said most whitefish are caught with a small fly, tipped with a maggot. The individual limit is 15 whitefish per day, most of which range from 10 to 15 inches long.
Sturgeon fishing reopened Tuesday from the mouth of the Columbia to McNary Dam. The John Day Pool (Lake Umatilla) has reopened but has a 500-fish annual quota for sturgeon. In recent years, the quota has been reached in a couple of months.
Snow cover throughout the region should help Washington upland game-bird hunters, whose seasons continue through Jan. 13 for pheasants and Jan. 21 for quail, chukars and gray partridge. Private lands with bird cover in the central and southeast districts of Washington may be best at this point in the season. The new “Hunt by Reservation” system, which includes landowners in Whitman and Garfield counties, is accessible now, but only through written permission directly from the on-site landowners.
Decent upland game-bird hunting opportunities still exist on WDFW properties, such as pheasants on Revere Wildlife Area in Whitman County and Hungarian partridge on Swanson Lakes Wildlife Area in Lincoln County, and other public lands like the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers habitat management units along the Snake River. For details see the interactive mapping program “Go Hunt” on WDFW’s website.
Additional “Feel Free to Hunt” access is now available through the annual contracts made with Columbia Basin landowners in the Corn Stubble Retention Project (CSRP), including acreage in the George area of Grant County. These fields are all part of WDFW’s Feel Free to Hunt access program, and are available to hunters as soon as corn harvest is completed. The application period for Idaho spring black bear controlled hunts runs from Jan. 15 through Feb. 15. Spring black bear controlled hunt seasons start April 15. Leftover tags go on sale April 1. Info on 2013 spring hunts is available in the 2012 big-game rules brochure.