February 7, 2014 in Outdoors

Hunting and fishing

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Tip of the week

The three steelhead fisheries that were closed in December – the mainstem Columbia River from Rock Island Dam upstream to Wells Dam; Wenatchee River from the mouth upstream to the Icicle River Road Bridge; and Icicle River from the mouth upstream to 500 feet below the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery Barrier Dam – may be reopened for steelheading sometime this month. Keep an eye on WDFW Emergency Fishing Rule Updates, or subscribe to WDFW e-mail alerts about rule changes.

Overheard

Congressman Steve Daines (R-Mont.) recently introduced legislation, the “Making Public Lands Public Access Act” that guarantees funding for improving hunter access to existing public lands. This legislation, H.R. 3962, directs the U.S. Forest Service and BLM to acquire rights of way and other land interests from willing-seller landowners to open access to existing public lands where public access for hunting and fishing is closed or impractical.

Heads up

The 10th annual NW Ice Fishing Festival will be held Feb. 15 in Molson, Wash., with fishing registration beginning at 7 a.m. at the Molson Grange or at Sidley Lake. Grand prize will be awarded for the two heaviest fish, with adult and youth places and lots of raffles and family activities. Info: Robin Stice, Oroville Chamber Volunteer (509) 485-4002 or i nfo@edenvalleyranch.net.

• Disabled veterans who are not Washington State residents can now apply for reduced fees on their next Washington state hunting or combination fishing license. While resident disabled veterans can qualify for deeper discounts, the new law allows those from out of state to pay standard resident license fees. Applications and additional information are available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/accessibility/ requirements_veterans.html or call WDFW’s licensing division at (360) 902-2464.

Fly fishing

Tuesday’s presenter at Spokane Fly Fishers’ 7 p.m. monthly meeting will be Dave Hughes talking about nymph fishing. Hughes, the author of more than 20 books about fly fishing for trout, was for eight years the editor of “Flyfishing & Tying Journal.” The location is St. Francis School, 1104 W. Heroy.

Salmon and steelhead

Fifty-seven anglers were checked on the Clearwater River last week between the mouth and the Orofino Bridge. They caught 39 fish and released 35 in 226 hours of fishing.

Anglers continue to catch a modest number of hatchery steelhead at Ringold, from the bank and by boat. Although fishing has been spotty this winter, catch rates should pick up in late February or early March.

Steelhead fishing is good in The Dalles Pool, although two-thirds of the fish are wild and have to be released.

Open-water fishing

It’s possible the recent cold snap could put an ice cover back on some lakes that were previously open, but anglers were fishing open water at Hayden last week for some nice kokanee. The fish, suspended in approximately 40 feet of water, were hitting Wedding Rings and flashers.

Lake Roosevelt is giving up some kokanee on the surface to long-liners in Swawilla Basin. The fish have been running to 3 1/2 pounds. The limit is six kokanee daily in addition to your trout, but only two kokes can have intact adipose fins.

Rainbow fishing is still exceptional on Roosevelt, with excellent reports coming from the Daisy boat launch south to the dam. Trollers and bank fishermen are netting limits of fish running mostly 15-18 inches.

Roosevelt anglers have also picked up some decent walleye in the Spokane Arm of the reservoir. The Spokane Arm is open year-round, with a daily catch limit of 16 walleye.

Anglers trolling Rufus Woods Reservoir above Chief Joseph Dam are catching 4- to 8-pound triploids as well as some smaller fish and some as large as 13 pounds. Shore-bound fishermen are finding success at the various Corps parks. Brandts Landing, about 6 miles above the dam on the east shore, has fire boxes and restrooms and is a popular winter spot.

Ice fishing

There are a lot of options for ice fishermen. Close to Spokane, Eloika Lake remains the best for perch with good numbers and decent size north of Jerry’s Landing in about 10 feet of water.

Hog Canyon and Fourth of July have been hit-or-miss for trout. The daily catch limit at both lakes is five trout, but only two more than 14 inches may be retained. Hatch and Williams in northern Stevens County continue to provide catches of rainbows, although catch rates have slowed.

February is the last month to fish Waitts Lake in southern Stevens County, which is providing decent catches of trout and perch. The lake closes Feb. 28 and doesn’t reopen until the last Saturday of April. Brown and rainbow trout have been everywhere, but the perch seem to be congregated near the far north end of the lake along the west shoreline where access is minimal.

In the Columbia Basin, there was open water this week around the I-90 Bridge, but the lake is otherwise frozen and anglers occasionally get into some large perch. Lind Coulee is also frozen and may have added an inch or two of ice recently. Anglers there are making good catches of perch, some as large as 12 inches, but there are also a lot of small fish.

Ice fishing destinations in the Okanogan include Davis Lake (near Winthrop) for rainbow; Patterson (near Winthrop) for yellow perch and kokanee; Leader (near Omak) for bluegill, black crappie, bass, yellow perch and rainbow trout; Big and Little Green (near Omak) for rainbow trout; Rat (near Brewster) for rainbow and brown trout; Palmer (near Loomis) for yellow perch and kokanee; Sidley (near Molson) for rainbow trout; and Bonaparte (near Tonasket) for trout and kokanee. Bonaparte has some large brook and tiger trout.

Some of the best perch fishing in north Idaho is at the far end of Lake Fernan where ice anglers are finding size and numbers.

Also in the Coeur d’Alene area are the Chain Lakes, where ice fishermen are having fair perch fishing on Black and Rock lakes. Pike are on the menu, with the larger fish coming from Black and Killarney and good numbers from Cave and Medicine.

Other species

White sturgeon retention is closed from Buoy 10 upstream to Bonneville Dam but remains an option for catch-and-release angling. Effective through Feb. 17, sturgeon retention is open in Bonneville Pool. Sturgeon retention is also open in The Dalles and John Day pools until the respective guidelines are met. The quota at the John Day Pool (Lake Umatilla) has been reached early in recent years, so anglers should go soon and keep an eye out for updates.

The McNary Pool (Lake Wallula) is also open for retention of one legal-size (43-54 inches from snout to fork) sturgeon a day. The fishery extends from McNary Dam upstream to Priest Rapids Dam on the Columbia River and upstream to Ice Harbor Dam on the Snake River.

This is prime time to jig for squid in Puget Sound. Good spots include the Elliot Bay Pier in Seattle, the Edmonds Pier, Point Defiance Park Pier in Tacoma, the Des Moines Pier, Redondo Pier and the Indianola Pier in Kitsap County. More information is available on the WDFW’s squid fishing webpage.

Relatively hard to find during most months of the year, whitefish congregate during the winter months. Hardy anglers are catching them on the Naches, Bumping Cle Elum and Tieton rivers, and on the Yakima River upstream from Union Gap. They are also abundant in the Spokane River, the Kettle, the Clearwater and the Coeur d’Alene. The limit is 15 a day. The standard bait is a whitefish fly and a maggot.

Hunting

The Idaho white-fronted goose season runs through Feb. 23 in southwest Idaho, and the light goose season runs through March 10. The spring controlled hunt application period for Idaho turkeys runs to March 1.

Contact Alan Liere at spokesmanliere @ yahoo.com


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