Hunting and fishing
The upcoming week should provide good fishing on the Spokane River. Streamer fishing with Lead Eye Leeches or big Bird Buggers in slow water should bring strikes.
The lower Coeur d’Alene just off of I-90 should also be good this coming week at mid-day. Fish streamers down deep with a slow retrieve.
Right now, the Snake River is the best around for swinging a steelhead. Seek out slow water and throw marabou patterns on sink tips.
Salmon and steelhead
Clearwater River guides report great fishing for steelhead, but few keepers. Recent rains have created ideal conditions and Toby Wyatt of Reel Time Fishing predicts “the best fishing we have seen this season.”
Steelhead fishing was pretty good last week on both the upper and lower Grande Ronde, and there are also fish being taken at the mouth near Heller Bar. The ice is gone, so floating is an option, but anglers on foot are also taking fish. Corkies and yarn are always effective on the Ronde.
The mouth of the Spokane Arm near Fort Spokane was a very busy place for trollers on Wednesday, and all of them were catching fish. Bank fishermen in the same area weren’t doing as well. The winds earlier in the week caused the fish to move toward the shoreline and fishing was fantastic, but when it calmed down, the fish moved out again, following the food. The trout are on top, often not even registering on the graph. Recommended depth is 5-20 feet and recommended speed is 1.3-1.8 mph, with the latter number best.
Spokane Arm anglers are finding some walleye in 40 feet of water by trolling the flats with bottom bouncers and nightcrawlers.
Rock Lake was impossible during the big winds, but afterward, fishing for mostly 12-14-inch brown trout was decent. Rip ‘n Minnows trolled over 40 feet of water have worked well, as have orange-colored Apexes at about 20 feet. The water level at Rock is up from the November lows, making it easier to launch.
Bait fishing off the docks at Chelan and trolling the lower basin of Lake Chelan result in hot action for rainbow trout up to 20 inches. The best fishing at Rufus Woods Reservoir has been at the upper net pens. Casting 1/8-ounce marabou jigs in dark colors has been effective for fish running to 10 pounds. A few walleye are also showing.
Surprisingly, the strong winds last weekend did not do much damage to ice covers on local lakes. With the exception of Sprague, where there was a little water showing around the edges, most lakes in eastern Washington look good, and only the ice along the Long Bridge on Pend Oreille in Idaho was compromised. All the smaller lakes between Coeur d’Alene and Sandpoint should be fishable this weekend. Consider Round, Cocolalla, Twin, Fernan, and the small lakes on the back end of Coeur d’Alene.
The best ice fishing on Eloika Lake recently has been beyond the first point several hundred yards north of Jerry’s Landing. Swedish pimples and Ratfinks tipped with a perch eyeball are outfishing everything. A few keeper crappie (9 inches and over) and bass (under 12 inches with one over 17 inches) are being caught in addition to perch, some as large as an amazing 9 1/2 inches.
Silver Lake would be a great place to take the kids for fast perch action, but it is hard to find a 7-incher.
Ice at Lind Coulee, part of Potholes Reservoir in the Columbia Basin, was still holding up at mid-week, though there were spots that didn’t look too thick. Anglers there are catching medium-sized perch and small walleye, but at least two anglers have reported hooking and losing something “really big.” Anglers hoping to catch some perch and walleye just over the hill from Soda Lake were disappointed this week to find no ice and the water way down.
The Coulee City Boat Basin on Banks Lake is a good spot for perch anglers, but the fish are smaller than in years past and a more popular spot is on the outside of the new dike on the back side of the marina where anglers are also catching whitefish.
Fourth of July has slowed down some in the past two weeks. The trick seems to be to keep drilling holes in shallow (5-6-feet) of water until you find fish. Fourth of July has some springs, so be cautious while exploring.
In Chelan County, Roses Lake’s ice has become questionable after the Chinook wind last week.
Spokane Arm anglers are still enjoying good burbot fishing out of Porcupine Bay. Craig Dowdy of YJ Guide Service says five-fish limits are coming fairly quickly, so clients are also trying for walleye. Info: 509-999-0717.
Sullivan Lake anglers are also finding burbot, but none of the 10-pounders of years gone by, the average being closer to 3 pounds. The best fishing is usually in front of Noisy Creek in anywhere from 100 to 35 feet of water.
White sturgeon retention is closed from Buoy 10 upstream to Bonneville Dam, but remains an option for catch and release angling. Through Sunday, sturgeon retention is open in the Bonneville Pool and also in The Dalles and John Day Pools until guidelines are met.
Washington ducks and geese are open through January 26, and in unit 4, geese are open every day January 20-26 rather just on Wednesdays and weekends. There are plenty of geese all over eastern Washington.
Chukar, gray partridge and quail remain open in Washington through Monday. In Idaho, forest grouse are open until the end of January, as are quail in Area 1. Chukar and gray partridge are open throughout the state until the end of January.
The application period for Idaho spring black bear controlled hunts opened January 15 and continues through February 15. The Idaho spring turkey controlled hunt application period opens February 1 and runs through March 1. Spring turkey and spring black bear seasons start April 15, with some controlled hunts opening later. Turkey youth hunts open April 8.
Contact Alan Liere at spokesmanliere @ yahoo.com