January 3, 2014 in Outdoors

Hunting and fishing

By The Spokesman-Review
 
Tip of the week

A friend with a sophisticated fish finder said successfully ice fishing for perch is a matter of finding the right hole rather than using the right bait. Sometimes, weeds may obstruct visibility of the bait or there is no pocket for fish, so moving just a few feet will bring better luck. He said he recently drilled a dozen holes in a 20x20 square, but only three of them showed any fish. These bit readily while the other holes produced nothing.

Heads up

• Hunters who would like to participate in the Snow Goose Quality Hunt program on Fir Island and in the northern Port Susan Bay area should visit the WDFW website for information.

• Hunters who file their annual report by Jan. 10 on hunting activities for black bear, deer, elk or turkey will be included in a drawing for five deer permits and four elk permits in various areas of the state. Successful or not, file your hunt reports before Jan. 31 or you will be paying an extra $10 when you purchase your 2014 license. Hunt reports may be filed by phone at (877) 945-3492 or on the web at fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov

Fly fishing

Rocky Ford has been excellent at times recently with more than 20 inches rainbow hitting scud droppers.

Kelly Laatsch of St. Mary Angler Fly Shop in Cranbrook, British Columbia, will be the presenter at Wednesday’s meeting of the Spokane Fly Fishers. He’ll be speaking on “Wild Rainbows of the Upper Columbia.” Kelly has fished most of the major trout streams in western Canada and the U.S. The program begins at 7 p.m. at the St. Francis School, 1104 W. Heroy.

Salmon and steelhead

Clearwater guides report good steelheading with boats taking 7-10 fish a day. Snake River steelhead fishing continues, although angler participation and catch rates have been low. Those who are catching fish are landing the larger B-run hatchery steelhead.

Despite some morning ice, the Grande Ronde is mostly fishable and steelhead are being caught.

Steelhead fishing remains open on several sections of the upper Columbia River and tributaries, including waters from Wells Dam upstream to 400 feet below Chief Joseph Dam; the Methow River from the mouth upstream to the confluence with the Chewuch River in Winthrop; the Okanogan River from the mouth upstream to the Highway 97 Bridge in Oroville; and the Similkameen River from the mouth upstream to 400 feet below Enloe Dam.

Some of the best steelhead catches on the Columbia River have been reported in the Ringold area. Steelhead anglers in the Hanford Reach are averaging 10 hours per steelhead caught and 17 hours per keeper. Boat anglers are doing best.

Trout and kokanee

Big Gerrard rainbow are hitting flies on top at Kootenay Lake in British Columbia. If you’ve never been, you might want to try a guide the first time. Contact Reel Adventures Charters, (250) 505-4963, or Kootenay KingFisher, 1-800 838 5269.

Rufus Woods has produced numerous 3- to 5-pound triploids near the first net pens. The big trout will hit Power Bait, but even more success is found by anglers drifting dark-colored jigs. Cast upstream and let it drift down.

Trollers long-lining perch-colored Rip’n Minnows in perch color or perch flies tipped with nightcrawler continue to do well on Lake Roosevelt. Many good reports came this week from the vicinity of Sterling Point. WDFW Inland Fish Program Manager Chris Donley recently fished Roosevelt to produce a winter trout fishing instructional video, available at href=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ktliBPHVrw”>http://www.youtube.com /watch?v=7ktliBPHVrw.

The kokanee bite is heating up on Lake Roosevelt from Keller to the Basin and around Spring Canyon. Most are on the surface, but downriggers set as deep as 36 feet are also getting into fish.

Ice fishing

There is some open water on Potholes Reservoir, but anglers fishing through 8 inches of good ice on Lind Coulee are taking a variety of perch, walleye and the occasional burbot. Large Swedish Pimples baited with worm or perch eye are doing best.

Fourth of July can be a puzzle at times, with one or two anglers doing exceptionally well and others doing nothing despite their proximity to the action. Jigs tipped with maggots are getting the most positive reviews, with rainbow up to 4 pounds. The fish are coming from water only 3-5 feet deep. At Hog Canyon, anglers were having difficulty catching the larger rainbow this week, but there was a lot of action on smaller fish. WDFW fish biologists Kent Mayer and Marc Divens recently fished Hog Canyon to produce an instructional ice fishing video available at href=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ITZZdNkRXpk”>http://www.youtube.com /watch?v=ITZZdNkRXpk.

Sprague Lake trout have not come easy for ice fishermen this winter and the lake has not drawn the crowds of years past. Most of the activity has been in the vicinity of the big island on the west end. The water is clear, and anglers say they can see big fish, but they are reluctant to bite.

Perch fishing was excellent last weekend on Eloika Lake with anglers on the south end doing better than those on the north end. A friend who fished the north end in the late afternoon said he had no difficulty at all icing 30 keepers, a few of which went more than 9 inches. He said the fishing really turned on at 4 p.m. with a strong bite lasting until dark.

WDFW fish biologist Brian Walker reports that Hatch and Williams lakes in Stevens County continue to produce good catches of rainbows. The fish may be slightly larger at Williams Lake, but they’re more numerous at Hatch.

Okanogan County’s Fish Lake is safe for ice fishing and anglers are taking perch averaging 8 inches as well as some foot-long rainbow. Roses Lake was stocked in November with 19,000 catchable-size rainbow, but the ice is thickening up. Roses also has perch.

Also in the Okanogan are Leader Lake, where ice fishing for crappie, bluegill and rainbow trout should be fair. Other traditional year-round lakes include Patterson and Davis in the Winthrop area, Rat near Brewster, and Big and Little Green west of Omak.

Davis, Rat and Green lakes have rainbows in the 10- to 12-inch range. Patterson Lake has perch in the 7- to 8-inch range.

Idaho’s Lower Twin is producing perch but nothing much bigger than 8 inches. Hayden Lake anglers are finding good ice on the south end and open water on the north, but the fishing has been slow. At Fernan Lake, the perch bite has been fair, with some rainbow also showing. Avondale perch are plentiful but small.

Other species

White sturgeon retention is closed from Buoy 10 upstream to the Oregon/Washington border but remains an option for catch and release angling. Through Jan. 19, sturgeon retention will be open in the Bonneville Pool.

Washington anglers are catching good numbers of whitefish from the Yakima River. The Harrison Bridge area has been particularly good.

Hunting

Washington forest grouse are closed. Pheasants close Jan. 12; quail, chukar and gray partridge close Jan. 20; and cottontail rabbits and snowshoe hares close March 15. Ducks and geese are open until Jan. 26. In unit 4, geese are open every day Jan. 20-26 rather just on Wednesdays and weekends. There are still a lot of geese in the area as there hasn’t been enough snow to cover their food and send them packing.

In Idaho, grouse in Area 2 are closed, but they are open until Jan. 31 in area 1. Quail, chukar and gray partridge are open through Jan. 31, but pheasants are already closed. Idaho duck close Jan. 24. Geese in area 1 close Jan. 17 and on Jan. 24 in area 2.

According to WDFW, decent bird hunting opportunities still exist on WDFW properties for pheasants on Revere Wildlife Area in Whitman County and for Hungarian partridge on Swanson Lakes Wildlife Area in Lincoln County. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers habitat management units along the Snake River also hold pheasants. For details see the interactive mapping program “Go Hunt” at http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/.

Contact Alan Liere at spokesmanliere @ yahoo.com


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