November 29, 2013 in Outdoors

Hunting and fishing

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Tip of the week

Nearly every year, a duck-hunting tragedy occurs locally when a boat capsizes or gets swamped in cold water. Hunters need to remember they’re also on a boating trip. When you put on an outboard motor, load three hunters plus all their gear and a retriever, it is easy to exceed the weight capacity of your boat without knowing it. Overloading reduces the amount of freeboard and insufficient freeboard can lead to poor handling in rough water and makes it easier for the boat to swamp. Wear a life jacket at all times, and remain seated while shooting.

Braggin’ rights

Northwest Fishing guide Bart Jarrett took some days off from his Clearwater steelhead business last week to hunt deer near Helmer, Idaho. One month to the day of shooting a cow elk, and after sitting four afternoons in the cold, Jarrett killed a magnificent 150-class whitetail from the same stump overlooking the same clearing.

Overheard

When Idaho 2014 licenses and tags go on sale Sunday, hunters and anglers have a new option to buy a three-year license, adding convenience to a small savings. Nonresidents can buy licenses and deer and elk tags beginning Sunday. Residents also can buy 2014 hunting licenses starting that day, and they can buy a receipt for deer and elk tags, which don’t go on sale until after deer, elk and pronghorn controlled-hunt drawings.

Heads up

Much of Fourth of July Lake, which opens Sunday, is on private land, and access is available only through the graciousness of the land owner. Don’t let litter result in access being denied. Treat all lakes with respect; if you pack it in, you can pack it out.

Looking for a special Christmas present? The Spokane Fly Fishers begin their annual fly fishing school Feb. 13. It runs Thursday evenings from 7-9 p.m. for eight weeks at The Inland Northwest Wildlife Council building on North Market. Included are three Saturday casting sessions and two Saturday pontoon/water safety classes on the water. Cost is $125 for 18 and up and $60.00 for 12-17 year olds. Call Mike Berube at (509) 999-8235.

Fly fishing

Lake Lenore will be open only today and Saturday, but it could be worth a look. Fly fishermen throwing nymphs down low are having excellent luck. The west end seems to hold the largest fish, but a good average is 15 inches.

Rocky Ford is providing excellent action for large rainbow, but weekends are crowded.

Trout and kokanee

Washington winter lakes Hatch, Williams (near Colville), Fourth of July and Hog Canyon open Sunday. The rainbow trout fishing should be good at all four, but access will be a problem, at least on Hog Canyon and Fourth of July. Both have 2-3 inches of hard ice. With continued cold weather, it might be thick enough for ice fishing, but not for me; launching a boat is out of the question. At Fourth of July, only 20 percent of the trout are under 14 inches – some are as large as 6 pounds. Hog Canyon fish average 13 inches. Hatch and Williams are in top form with fish running 11-17 inches. They will be the best bet for ice fishermen.

The most popular launch on Roosevelt this winter is Fort Spokane, as it is close to the excellent trout fishing at the mouth. With the freezing weather, the boat ramp can be an icy mess, so don’t forget your bucket of sand. The Seven Bays launch is not as steep or slick and though it is a little further, the fishing is just as good. Frisky Jenny flies are being mentioned a lot.

The Lake Chelan mackinaw bite has been outstanding in the deep water from Rocky Point to Mack Bar. The lake trout bite on Pend Oreille and Priest has been aggressive this week, but you need to find the bottom. Most of the fish are under 3 pounds.

Sunday marks the shift to a catch-and-keep season with standard fishing gear on Big and Little Green lakes near Omak and Rat near Brewster. All should provide good rainbow fishing through the winter.

Rufus Woods continues to produce good numbers of 1-3-pounders, and larger fish are beginning to show more frequently. The best bite has been trolling Roosevelt-type flies and pitching spoons and spinner flies to the shorelines.

The Lake Pend Oreille K&K Derby took a break for Thanksgiving but resumes today. Currently, Wind Grayghost leads the adult rainbow division with a fish weighing 23.54, barely edging out Keith Moore with a fish of 23.48 pounds. Scott Plue’s 13.38-pound mack leads the laker division, just ahead of Jim Carothers’s 13.20-pounder.

Duck hunters and trout fishermen are competing at Waitts Lake, with the fishermen doing best. The bulk of the catch is 12-14-inch browns and ’bows, but a few fish over 3 pounds have been reported. Long-lining Rapalas are effective.

Salmon/steelhead

It’s difficult to get a legal steelhead under current regulations on the Clearwater, but anglers who don’t care about fish for the freezer are having a ball. Northwest Fishing guide, Bart Jarrett, says his boat recently landed and released a steelhead estimated to be just a hair under 20 pounds. “There is a ton of fish in this river,” he said. “The water dropped dramatically last week, which turned things off some, but it is coming back up, and this will restock the river with fish.” Info: (208) 790-2277.

While working my Brittany pup on quail last weekend near the Wawawai boat launch, two friends fished with bobbers and shrimp from the rip-rap. After three hours without a take-down, another angler showed up, made one cast, caught a 35-inch keeper and went home.

Catch rates for hatchery steelhead are low in the Hanford Reach. It should pick up, though, but will probably remain erratic as the fish are milling around waiting for the spring spawn.

Lake Coeur d’Alene chinook are on the bite in the Carlin Bay area. The fish are generally under 6 pounds, but some 12-pounders have been landed recently. Drag Mini-Squids at 90 feet.

Spiny ray

Perch anglers are finding some decent-sized fish around the weed beds on the upper end of Rufus Woods Reservoir between Pumps One and Four, and there are trout there too. Walleye anglers are taking some large Rufus Woods walleye by trolling shallow along the shorelines.

Perch fishing enthusiasts are keeping a close eye on shallow Eloika Lake in Stevens County. It had ice this week, and by next week, it may have fishable ice. The first few days after solid ice forms have been excellent in the past. Eloika is also loaded with largemouth, which feed aggressively all winter,

Walleye fishing has picked up in the Spokane Arm of Lake Roosevelt in the vicinity of Porcupine Bay. Jigs are working in 40-70 feet of water. Anglers pulling spinners are doing well jigging shallower water near Kettle Falls. Small fish complaints are still heard, but not nearly as frequently as a couple weeks ago.

Other species

In Idaho, the St. Joe and the Coeur d’Alene rivers are stacking with whitefish. In Washington, several more rivers open for whitefish on Sunday. These include sections of the Bumping River, Naches River, and the Yakima River in Yakima County, the Chewuch, Methow, Simikameen and Sinlahekin in Okanogan County, the Wenatchee in Chelan County and the Little Spokane from the State Route 291 bridge to the West Branch in Spokane County. Many other rivers in Idaho and Washington are already open for whitefish.

State fishery managers have approved an evening razor-clam dig on ocean beaches starting Saturday and running for eight days on the lowest tides so far this season. Says Dan Ayres, WDFW coastal shellfish manager: “If the weather cooperates, most diggers should be able to get their limit in record time.” All digs are either late afternoon or evening.

Hunting

Fall turkey hunters are finding large flocks and easy picking north and east of Spokane in units 105-124.

Contact Alan Liere at spokesmanliere@yahoo.com

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