Hunting and fishing
Dusty Lake in the Quincy Wildlife Area opens today. It is popular with fly anglers and produces rainbow and brown trout to over 20 inches and tiger trout that can be even larger.
The lower Coeur d’Alene and St. Joe rivers could provide some weekend fishing. Double nymph rigs and slow-moving streamers will be best. The St. Joe has snow around the edges but is wadeable.
The upper Clearwater River has fish, but it also sees weekend crowds. The lower river as well as the Snake have fish, too, but less commotion.
Salmon and steelhead
The Methow River opens today to fishing for steelhead and whitefish from the mouth (Highway 97 Bridge) to the confluence with the Chewuch River in Winthrop. Portions of the Mainstem Columbia River, the Wenatchee, the Okanogan and the Similkameen remain open.
Steelhead fishing has been best this week on the Salmon River, from the North Fork to the East Fork. Anglers are averaging about a fish every five hours.
The Grande Ronde River levels have been fluctuating, but steelhead are available when it settles down. At midweek, water flow was good and a few fish were being weighed at Boggan’s Oasis.
The chinook bite on Lake Coeur d’Alene has been generally good for 9-12-pound fish, but it slowed down this week. The salmon are being caught at a lot of different depths on herring or Mini Squid.
Trout and kokanee
Today is the early opening at a number of local lakes. Many of these, such as Deer are ice-covered, but Liberty is mostly open. Downs has some open water around the edges. In addition to Deer, ice fishing may be possible at Coffeepot, Amber, and Medical. North Silver has access problems and has not been stocked, but Liberty, Medical and Downs will either have been stocked with catchables and some jumbos by today or will be soon. Anglers at Liberty traditionally catch some of the largest brown trout of the year in shallow water right after the opener. Deer Lake ice anglers can expect to catch rainbow and mackinaw. If you plan on getting on the lake at the public access, take a shovel as there is a low snow berm alongside the road.
Seven Quincy Wildlife lakes in Grant County open today. All except Lenore were ice-free at midweek, and Lenore was only 60 percent covered. Several of the lakes are walk-ins, but Martha and Quincy are road-accessible. While fishing is expected to be good in all lakes, these two will probably see the most anglers. Martha rainbow are 12-13 inches and Quincy rainbow are 12-20 inches.
Next to Quincy Lake is Burke Lake, the site of the Quincy Valley Tourism Association’s Derby on Saturday. This lake should have excellent trout fishing, as the usual catch of 11-13-inch rainbow will be supplemented with larger fish for the derby, including some up to 7 pounds. Once again, Burke will have a tagged fish worth $2,000. Fishhook Pond and Pampa Pond in Whitman County and Nunnally Lake (selective gear) in Grant County also open.
Ice is melting all over the Potholes Recreation Area. Bank fishermen throwing Power Bait, salmon eggs, or nightcrawlers with marshmallows are doing well. Canal Lake, Heart Lake, Corral Lake, Medicare Beach and behind the MarDon Resort office are all producing nice rainbow for both trollers and bank anglers. A friend who fishes Upper Goose says it usually takes less than two hours to limit on 11-13-inch rainbow.
The Seven Tucannon Lakes in Columbia County also open today. At the Last Resort, Jim MacArthur says all lakes are currently being stocked with catchable and jumbo rainbow. He says that at midweek, ice was off all except Big Four.
Rainbow fishing was tough this week all over Roosevelt. Water level is holding at about 1,276 feet. Anglers from one end of the system to the other had similarly dismal reports. Rufus Woods anglers are eking out a few fish, but it can be very tough also.
The ice at Roses Lake, a popular Chelan-area trout and panfish destination, is becoming unsafe for fishing. Closer to Spokane, the ice at Hog Canyon is also starting to deteriorate. Fourth of July may have open water by the weekend.
Idaho lakes like Fernan, Hayden and Hauser are opening up. Anglers are catching trout in open water off the dock at the boat launch on Fernan, but the main body of lake is still frozen.
I fished Eloika twice this week and Silver once. The ice at both was excellent, and it will take a lot of warm weather and wind to change that. On Eloika, I was skunked Saturday morning, but caught 15 perch from the same spot Sunday evening in 14 feet of water just north of Jerry’s Landing. The bite was from 4 p.m. until 4:45. At Silver, I reeled in 7-9-inch perch at about five fish per hour for four hours between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. – steady but not sensational. The fish were on the bottom in 44 feet of water.
Perch-fishing action at Upper Twin Lake in Kootenai County has been generally good early, but recent reports indicate the lake may be breaking up.
Walleye anglers launching out of Porcupine Bay are nailing “eating size” ’eyes in numerous locations. Fish are still somewhat scattered, so plan on covering a lot of water. Now and then a school is located and fishing can be fast. Jigs tipped with nightcrawlers are effective in 40-60 feet of water.
Pike are being caught in nearly all the Lake Coeur d’Alene bays and in a few spots off the shore on the Chain Lakes. Frozen smelt under a bobber in shallow water is most effective.
Effective today through May 15 the mainstem Columbia River will be open for retention of shad, but only during days and in areas open for retention of adipose fin-clipped spring chinook. So far, there are few shad.
Porcupine Bay on the Spokane Arm of Roosevelt is still giving up burbot, and anglers who target whitefish there are catching some big ones.
Washington deer and elk hunters have until March 31 to enter their name in a drawing for a 2013 multiple-season permit which will allow them to participate in archery, muzzleloader and modern firearm general hunting seasons for deer or elk in 2013. Winners who purchase the multiple-season elk tag by Aug. 31 can participate in general elk-hunting seasons in both eastern and western Washington.
Contact Alan Liere at spokesmanliere@ yahoo.com