Amber Lake still has good numbers of 12-14-inch cutthroat as well as some much larger. A leech pattern on a sinking line will account for a lot of strikes. The fish appear to be suspended 10 feet off bottom in deep water.
The Coeur d’Alene and St. Joe rivers are running high. Better success is found on the Clark Fork, which has been holding steady at about 6,000 cfs. Afternoon dry flying has been excellent when the wind lets up.
Salmon and steelhead
IDFG has approved a spring chinook salmon fishing season to start Saturday on parts of the Clearwater, Salmon and Snake rivers. River sections open to fishing are: Clearwater River drainage on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday only; Salmon River drainage from the Rice Creek Bridge upstream to the to a posted boundary at the mouth of Short’s Creek; the Little Salmon River from the mouth upstream to U.S. Highway 95 Bridge near Smokey Boulder Road, and the Snake River from the Dug Bar boat ramp upstream to Hells Canyon Dam. The Salmon and Snake sections are open seven days a week.
A section of the Snake River below Ice Harbor Dam near Pasco, as well as a section near Little Goose Dam and one near Clarkston, are now open to spring chinook fishing. The section below Ice Harbor Dam will be open Friday and Saturday while the sections near Little Goose Dam and Clarkston will be open Sunday and Monday. There are restrictions. Find details at https://fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules /efishrules/erule.jsp?id=1296.
The recreational salmon fishing season in Marine Areas 3 (La Push) and 4 (Neah Bay) will begin with two short openings for hatchery chinook, May 10-11 and May 17-18.
Trout and kokanee
The largest trout caught and recorded on opening day from an East Side lake was a 24-inch rainbow from Lincoln County’s Fishtrap Lake, but many other lakes kicked out trout just as large and Loon Lake, as usual, produced a few mackinaw. Loon Lake anglers also caught several 17-24-inch trout as well as small kokanee. A friend who fished there at midweek said the kokes were running under 11 inches and hitting on the north end at depths ranging from 20-35 feet.
There were no huge surprises for trout anglers on opening day, and for the most part, they were pleased with the size of the fish. Eastern Washington lakes with the highest number of fish kept per angler were Rocky in Stevens County with 4.5, West Medical with 4.3 and Williams with 4.2. West Medical rainbow and browns ran 11-16 inches.
A friend fished a Williams Lake dock on Tuesday and said the fishing was slow and anglers were catching mostly 10-inchers on Power Bait. Clear Lake anglers kept 3.9 fish each from 11-15 inches on Saturday, and at Badger anglers averaged only 2.0 fish each, though bank fishermen had good luck. Anglers at Diamond Lake in Pend Oreille County averaged 3.2 fish kept – browns and rainbow.
On Fish Lake in Spokane County, opening-day anglers kept about three fish each, and those fishing from shore were doing quite well. It has slowed down since, however, and boat fishermen are having the best luck. Some brook trout of nearly 20 inches have come in.
Another high overall catch rate on the opener was measured at Ellen Lake in Ferry County, where 16 anglers were checked with 58 fish and 39 released fish, for a 6.1 average catch rate and 3.6 average fish kept rate. Ellen’s largest fish on the opener was a 16-inch rainbow. Stevens County’s Starvation Lake, southeast of Colville, had an average catch rate of 3.8 kept fish. Almost half the kept fish were larger than 13 inches..
Other good opening-day destinations were Jameson in Douglas County with over three fish kept per angler, and Blue, Deep, Perch, Vic Meyer and Warden in Grant County with about 3.5 trout kept per angler. Blue Lake trout were running 13-14 inches, Perch Lake rainbow and triploids were 14-20 inches and Vic Meyer had trout to 16 inches. In Okanogan County, Conconully Reservoir was one of the best with 4.3 fish kept per angler.
Cow Lake, which is connected to Sprague Lake and more protected from the wind, surprised friends recently with numerous 13-15-inch rainbow caught on the troll. Sprague Lake trout have been difficult to find, but the warming weather should turn the bite on.
Waitts Lake didn’t show up in the game department creel census, but anglers said limits were coming quickly with a combination of ’bows and browns in assorted sizes including stocked jumbos.
Twin Lakes in Ferry County booted out a lot of rainbow and brookies on opening weekend. Flies and Rooster Tails worked well.
Upper Goose in Grant County is still providing hot fishing for 12-inch trout. Power Bait from shore has worked as well as anything.
Lake Chelan macks continue to bite near the Yacht Club, and a few chinook have been landed, too. The torrid kokanee bite has cooled off, but some are still being taken along the face of Mill Bay and by the Monument. Some nice rainbow were caught at Wapato Lake on the opener.
According to a recent spring trawl survey on Dworshak Reservoir in Idaho, 2-year-old kokanee (the most abundant) ranged from 9-11 inches and were fat and healthy. The lowest catches were near the dam, and increased further up reservoir, especially upstream of Magnus Bay.
Moses Lake is warming quickly and walleye and smallmouth are beginning to bite. These fish are also becoming more active at Banks and Potholes. It is time to start looking for smallmouth on the lower end of Dworshak Reservoir as well.
A few positive walleye reports have trickled in from the Spokane Arm of Lake Roosevelt. Jigging seems to be best, but a trolled worm harness can also be good. The majority of fish are being caught in the main channel in strong current between Porcupine Bay and Buoy Five.
Largemouth are very active at times at Newman and Eloika lakes. Dark colors are working best. Newman also has smallmouth. Other spots for active largemouth are Cow Lake near Sprague and Roses Lake near Chelan.
Westport, Wash., red tails (surf perch) are fairly easy to catch now. Use clam necks and 8- to 10-pound line with 1 ounce of weight. Wade out as far as you are comfortable, cast, and let the waves slowly drag the bait in.