June 28, 2013 in Outdoors

Hunting and fishing

By The Spokesman-Review
 
Tip of the week

Although it is true that big fish usually prefer big bait, Craig Dowdy of YJ Guide Service says the sturgeon he is catching on the Snake River near Lower Granite Dam are taking pieces of cut bait no bigger than his thumb. Last weekend, Dowdy caught numerous sturgeon up to 8 feet long using the smaller offering.

Braggin rights

I trolled Loon Lake for kokanee with Spokane resident Jerry Hawkins on Thursday; I landed one and he landed 10. Evidently, a 50-foot leader does make a difference. Mine was 25.

Overheard

A 52-pound striped bass was caught in the lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam on June 17. It was taken by a commercial fisherman in the Gorge.

Heads up

• White sturgeon retention is over Saturday in the Columbia River and tributaries from John Day Dam upstream to the John Day Reservoir. Catch-and-release fishing will continue to be allowed.

• Fishing for chinook salmon is now closed in the Little Salmon and Snake rivers.

Fly fishing

The Coeur d’Alene River was recharged by recent rains and levels are good. Poor weather has kept anglers off the water, and as it drops again, cutthroat fishing should be excellent. The St. Joe has risen again, but is still fishable Wading is difficult but clarity is good. Floating from Avery down has been decent with big attractors and stonefly patterns working in the faster water. The Clark Fork is fishing very well. Dead-drifting big nymphs under an indicator has been effective.

Bass fishing has been good for 2-3-pound largemouth in the shallows at Newman and Silver lakes. Topwater patterns have been working.

Trout and kokanee

Kokanee are still growing at an astonishing rate in Idaho’s Hayden Lake. Use standard kokanee gear trolled between 30-50 feet for fish up to 17 inches. The fish are spread out. Find a school and try to stay with it. Big kokanee are also being caught fairly consistently in Lake Roosevelt from Keller down by anglers dragging Apex lures at depths of 25-28 feet.

According to Anton Jones at Darrell and Dad’s Family Fishing in Chelan, this is prime time for fishing Omak Lake for Lahontan cutthroat trout. Currently, trollers are catching a lot of 12-14-inch fish at 50 feet by dragging a large white and red Needlefish.

Clear Lake in Spokane County remains good for both still-fishermen and trollers. The rainbow taken recently have all been longer than 12 inches. West Medical still-fishermen are also finding plenty of fish just out from the public launch.

Deer Laker mackinaw averaging about 5 pounds have been hitting sporadically near the bottom in 40-50 feet of water. Anglers trolling near the entrance to the narrows are finding fish. Trollers are taking some rainbow 15-18 inches in addition to the 10-inch plants.

On Sprague Lake, Bill and Nettie Blosser took limits of 16-17-inch rainbow on Thursday, with one 21-incher sweetening the catch. They dunked worms and marshmallows between Four Seasons Resort and the island.

Pearrygin Lake in Okanogan County has been excellent for 12-15-inch rainbow. Both trollers and bait fishermen are doing well. Find the suspended fish and limits come quickly.

At Curlew Lake in Ferry County, rainbow fishing is holding up nicely for fish over 14 inches. Limits are the rule for both still-fishermen and trollers.

The big rainbow of Potholes Reservoir are still active near Medicare Beach and the mouth of Frenchman’s Wasteway. Leaded line and Needlefish have accounted for a lot of 6-8-pound trout. The seep lakes below O’Sullivan Dam continue to provide good trout action at Canal, Heart, and the Windmill lakes. Soda, Long, and Crescent lakes provide both bank and boat fishing. There are also bass, and walleye.

Steelhead and salmon

The summer chinook season begins July 5 on the Columbia River.

The sockeye season has already opened below Priest Rapids Dam. Retention begins Monday from Priest Rapids Dam to Wells Dam, from the mouth of the Okanogan River upstream to the first Highway 97 bridge and from the Highway 173 bridge in Brewster to Chief Joseph Dam. Daily limit is six.

Chinook fishing season on the South Fork Salmon River begins July 5 from Forest Service Road 48 upstream about 35 river miles to a posted boundary 100 yards downstream from the IDFG weir and trap. Fishing will be open only Fridays, Saturday and Sundays until further notice. A short fishery is anticipated.

During the all-species fishery at Ilwaco last weekend, anglers averaged nearly 1.6 salmon per rod. Just over half the catch was coho.

Spiny ray

Coeur d’ Alene Lake pike and largemouth bass are hitting in the main lake as well as most of the chain lakes. Soft plastic frogs, jointed plugs, and weedless spoons have all been working in 5 feet of water.

Tiger musky are cooperating at area lakes that have stocked the toothsome fish. Nothing particularly large has been reported lately, but quite a few to 30 inches have come from Silver, Newman and Curlew lakes.

The worm harness has always been one of the preferred walleye rigs at Potholes Reservoir, but anglers are complaining that small perch are decimating their worm supply in short order. Nevertheless, some nice walleye (to 25 inches) are showing.

Moses Lake perch as large as 15 inches have been caught this month, and walleye are showing on the north end by the horse ranch off Highway 17. There have been a lot of boats recently fishing near the I-90 bridge. A fishing dock financed and installed about a month ago at the Moses Lake State Park by the Columbia Basin Walleye Club has become a popular perch-fishing destination.

Blue Lake, part of the Sun Lakes chain, not only has fat rainbow trout, it has excellent bass and some really large perch. There are numerous places to fish from shore.

Banks Lake is providing excellent bass fishing for both smallmouth and largemouth. Everything seems to be working as long as it is fished shallow. Barker Flats and the Devil’s Punchbowl are good places to start.

Prime time for crappie has come and gone, but the I-82 ponds near Yakima are still booting out good numbers at times. A white fly trolled across the surface of Eloika in early morning and late evening will also put fish in the boat. Eloika crappie must be at least 9 inches long to be retained. The same technique will work along the shoreline at Silver, Hayden, Newman and Long lakes, and anglers won’t encounter the heavy weed growth found at Eloika.

Other species

Sturgeon fishing on the Snake River in the vicinity of Lower Granite Dam has been excellent. Cut bait is preferred as it is not as likely to be nibbled off by pikeminnow, bass and catfish, but a gob of nightcrawlers is also good. Measured from nose to fork, a Snake River sturgeon must be between 43 to 54 inches to be retained.

In a few more years, it may be possible to fish for shad closer to home. Non-native American shad are experiencing a revival of sorts in the Columbia River Basin. Since the extensive development of mainstem hydroelectric projects, shad runs have increased markedly in abundance and have extended their range into the upper Columbia River and into Hells Canyon of the Snake River. This year, over 3.6 million have passed Bonneville Dam, and they continue to cross in large numbers, though fishing effort has declined.

You can pretty much catch all the channel cats you want now from the Snake River, particularly in the vicinity of Little Goose Dam. Find the deepest hole in a stretch of river and put a cut bait or gob of worms on the bottom. Most of these fish are 3 pounds and up.

Hunting

The 2013-2014 Idaho wolf hunting season opens Monday on private land in the Panhandle Zone of Idaho. It opens throughout the rest of the state on Aug. 30. Wolf hunters may use five tags, with no overall harvest limit. Tags are $11.50 for Idaho residents and $31.75 for nonresidents.

Contact hunting and fishing correspondent Alan Liere at spokesmaliere@yahoo.com

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