Water on local steelhead destinations has dropped and fishing has been good if you can catch a warmer day. Guide Toby Wyatt, of Reel Time Fishing, says he has had some excellent days on the Clearwater.
This is typically one of the best months for hatchery steelhead fishing on the north coast rivers, said Kirt Hughes, regional fishery manager for WDFW. “The rivers are running cold and the snow is sticking to the higher elevations,” he said. “If the weather holds up, fishing for hatchery steelhead should be great through the month.”
Jeff Smith of Fins and Feathers in Coeur d’Alene has caught a lot of chinook recently at a depth of only 30-40 feet, which is unusual for this time of year on the big lake. The larger fish have come off helmeted herring.
Fourth of July, Hatch and Williams have all been fishing well through the ice, though the midweek thaw makes ice quality suspect. John Petrofski of Spokane says he and friends have taken relatively easy limits of mostly 14-inch rainbow from Hatch using white crappie jigs tipped with Power Bait, and success is similar on Williams.
Lake Roosevelt trolling reports vary from dismal to excellent, but most are pretty good. Trollers have had good success lately dragging J-9 Rapalas near Seven Bays, but an Apex fished off a planer board is probably even better. Add maggots or white corn. Anglers fishing from shore north of Seven Bays and also at Jones Bay and anywhere in between where there is access are using scented marshmallows, Power Bait and nightcrawlers for some nice catches.
Rock Lake brown trout have been hitting surface plugs and flies despite easy picking from the thousands of 9-inch rainbow plants in the lake.
Rufus Woods Reservoir is probably the best place in Washington to catch big trout from shore. There is a spot near the power-line tower just below Chief Joseph Dam that is good, or try Brandts Landing, which is about 8 miles from the turnoff to the dam. The water is shallow off much of the shore there, but fish will be cruising just outside of the weed lines. The net pens are best accessed by either taking the road past Omak Lake, or by taking the turn down to the river at the rodeo grounds at Nespelem. Boat anglers can launch at the Army Corps of Engineers boat ramp at Bridgeport and explore upstream in back bays and along shorelines.
Waitts Lake still has open water and fishing for browns and rainbows can be excellent, if you have a car-top boat. There was a huge snow berm blocking the pubic launch last week.
A friend who fished Silver Lake last weekend said there was 3 inches of ice and he caught over a hundred perch, though many were smaller than the ones caught last year. Be very careful on Silver as snow on the ice has kept the ice very thin in places, and the recent rain and wind haven’t helped any.
Upper Twin Lake is also a possible perch destination, but once again, be wary. While the ice averaged about 3½ inches early in the week, some spots were thinner. The best success has been in about 15 feet of water straight out from the launch. Upper Twin also has crappie and pike.
Eloika Lake ice is about 6 inches thick and the perch bite has been slow but steady. Anglers drilling holes just north of Jerry’s Landing say the fish seem to be a little larger than last year’s, and it is not unusual to catch a nice largemouth or two in a morning’s jigging. There is a lot of sloppy snow on the ice, and in places, it appears to be sinking.
Practically all the small Idaho lakes between the Chain Lakes and Sandpoint have ice, but it is only about 3 inches thick. Use caution.
Brant goose numbers in Skagit County are high enough to allow an eight-day hunt later this month. Hunting is scheduled Jan. 12, 13, 16, 19, 20, 23, 26, and 27 with a bag limit of two geese per day.
The Washington pheasant season closes after Sunday. Quail, chukars and gray partridge stay open through Jan. 21. Ducks statewide and geese in Management Areas 4 and 5 close Jan. 27. There are a lot of waterfowl now on the Columbia, Snake and Pend Oreille rivers. At Y.J. Guide Service, Craig Dowdy says there are plenty of geese, but redheads and bluebills are the most plentiful duck on the Pend Oreille. Info: (509) 999-0717.
In Idaho, forest grouse in Area 1 (upper Panhandle) are open until the end of January but closed in the rest of the state. Chukars, gray partridge and quail are also open until the end of January in most areas. Pheasants are closed everywhere. Duck and geese in Area 1 remain open until Jan. 18. They close Jan. 25 in Area 2.