At Northwest Outfitters in Coeur d’Alene, Mike Beard says the lower Snake River has “actually been OK” for steelhead, though shelf ice can be a problem. Beard predicts the current warming trend will give the steelhead bite a boost by next week. He said he wouldn’t be surprised either to see the Coeur d’Alene River perk up for cutthroat.
Salmon and steelhead
The Clearwater River is about the best steelhead option around these days, with ice affecting other waters. Anglers fishing the mouth to the Orofino Bridge are catching approximately a fish every 12 hours, though a lot of them are wild and must be released.
Trout and kokanee
Hog Canyon trout fishing has been tough recently, with a lot of anglers leaving empty-handed. There is an occasional large fish pulled through the ice, however, and the road down to the lake is passable as long as it stays cold with a four-wheel-drive vehicle in low gear.
Fourth of July Lake has about 8 inches of ice at the narrows and 5 inches at the south end. Fishing has been fair to good, with most anglers catching their two 14-inchers fairly quickly.
Sprague Lake trout fishing has been very slow, but the lure of taking a 4-pound rainbow through the ice is still a tantalizing possibility and anglers continue to try. A few large ‘bows are taken each day through 5 inches of ice.
Waitts Lake was extremely slow for the family and me on Monday, but some anglers were putting a few 14-inch brown trout on the ice. So far, perch have been few and far between. Most angling activity was concentrated about 150 yards straight out from the pubic access. The ice is excellent.
The Hatch Lake bite is not as fast as last week, but ice anglers are still taking two or three fish each.
Lake Roosevelt is fishing very well lately, especially for rainbows. Limits of 16-18-inch trout are common. Kokanee reports are fewer, but fish up to 3½ pounds are coming in. The best reports come from anglers launching at Spring Canyon and fishing low in the reservoir with flies and flashers at about 10 feet. Jason Norisada, visiting from Wisconsin and using one of his brother John’s custom-painted blade baits (altered with fingernail polish and a Sharpie), caught a giant Lake Roosevelt trout last week while fishing for walleye. The fish was over 30 inches long. It is not the first large trout caught from Roosevelt on a Norisada blade bait.
On Roses Lake near Chelan, ice anglers are dunking a variety of baits for good catches of 11-inch rainbow. The morning bite was reported to be best. There is a good ice layer on the majority of the lake, but be cautious around the cattails close to shore and around the springs at the east end.
Rat Lake in Okanogan County has been best for rainbow at the far end of the lake from the boat launch. Power Bait in pink and orange takes the majority of fish.
The Priest Lake Marina boat launch is still accessible to four-wheel-drive vehicles with chains and mackinaw trollers are finding fish deep.
The slop on top of the ice at Eloika has finally firmed up. Perch fishermen do well at times north of Jerry’s Landing and at the public access to the south. The occasional largemouth bass – some as large as 18 inches – make Eloika ice fishing an adventure. Eloika often has an evening bite beginning around 4 p.m.
I fished Silver Lake twice this week, finding a few perch once and quite a few the second time. The fish are smaller this year, running about 8 inches on average and are found in deep water. The shallowest I fished was 33 feet. The best bite has been from dawn until around 10 a.m., but Silver also has an evening bite similar to that at Eloika. Use a light line and a heavy sinker and bait your hook or jig with maggots or perch eyeballs.
John Norisada, who works for Wholesale Sports and has a blade bait manufacturing business, tries to fish Roosevelt once a week. He said that this year, despite optimum conditions, walleye fishing has been “a grind.” He says that normally, the Roosevelt bite is on by now, but for some reason the fish aren’t schooled up. He and his brother fished dawn to dark this week and only touched six walleye.
Moses Lake perch fishermen are finding fish though the ice near the I-90 Bridge and in Lind Coulee. Potholes does not yet have safe ice, and neither does Banks, though both lakes are frozen.
Perch anglers are finding the usual large (10-12-inch) fish through the ice off the Long Bridge into Sandpoint. The bite is erratic.
All small North Idaho lakes are ice-covered and pike fishing has been good north of Coeur d’Alene at Chatcolet and the Chain lakes. Last week, two pike over 20 pounds and one that went 32 were weighed in. Smelt or herring on tip-ups is a good way to go, but some anglers use small perch for bait.
Burbot fishing has been outstanding in the Porcupine Bay area of Lake Roosevelt, and anglers are finding them throughout the day. Most fish are in the 3-4-pound range, but fish as large as 7 pounds have been reported.
Sturgeon fishing on the Lower Columbia mainstem below Bonneville Dam has been as cold as the weather. About one in nine boat anglers on the Bonneville Pool landed a legal-size fish last week, though a lot of sub-legals were caught, none by bank anglers. Through Jan. 13, an estimated 23 (2 percent) of the 1,150 winter guideline had been taken.
The Idaho Fish and Game Commission has adopted seasons for moose, bighorn sheep and mountain goats for 2013 and 2014.
In response to moose population changes, primarily in the Clearwater and Panhandle regions, the commission approved seasons that overall decreased bull moose tags by 46 and increased antlerless tags by 11. Moose populations are declining in part of Idaho as well as parts of the other lower 48 states.
The 2013-2014 Moose, Bighorn Sheep and Mountain Goat seasons and rules brochure will be available in late February.
The application period for Idaho spring turkey controlled hunts opens Feb. 1 and runs to March 1. The Idaho spring black bear controlled hunt application period opened Jan. 15 and continues through Feb. 15. Spring turkey and spring black bear seasons start April 15 – some controlled hunts open later. Turkey youth hunts open April 8.
Hunting seasons in Idaho and Washington are pretty much over for everything but rabbits and coyotes after this weekend. Next up – turkey hunting in April.
BACKCOUNTRY -- Here's the source of most of the area's smoke woes -- the fires in the Glacier Peak Wilderness. Here's a shot I made today as I hiked south ...