January 24, 2014 in Outdoors

Hunting and fishing

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Tips of the week

With ice on local lakes often exceeding a foot in thickness, fishermen have been getting excited about the Polar Ice Auger Adapter that converts a manual ice auger to an electric one by attaching it to an electric drill. If you already have a good electric drill and a manual auger, the cost of the conversion is a mere $10.99, but I would recommend having a round plate slightly larger than the auger hole welded to the shaft to prevent losing the business end down an ice hole if the chuck loosens. I used the device this week and it drilled many holes cleanly and quickly through thick ice. If you can’t find the adapter locally, check out www.icefish.com.

• On Eloika Lake, the water out from the public access is only 4 to 7 feet deep, and as the ice fishing season progresses the best fishing and the largest fish head north to water 9 to 12 feet deep. To save a long walk, pay the $3 and park at Jerry’s Landing. Wear ice cleats.

Braggin’ rights

I have been fishing at Eloika Lake for 62 years. In that time I have never seen a 10-inch perch caught there. Until last Saturday, when I saw a half dozen. Those and a bunch of slightly smaller fish were pulled through 13 inches of hard ice by Chelsea Vargas, a woman sitting 3 feet from her husband, Mike, and 6 feet away from me. Although I did manage to catch some nice fish, I caught no 10-inchers.

Overheard

The perch on Silver Lake have gone from a respectable 7 to 9 inches last year to a puny 4 to 5 inches this year and anglers have been debating whether it’s better for the lake to leave them on the ice or release them. Often this is a moot question as the fish are in fairly deep water and suffer from decompression sickness if brought up too fast and will not survive anyway.

• At Hog Canyon Lake, bullheads of all sizes are beginning to show up, especially for anglers fishing after dark. In this case, it is safe to say WDFW would not want the fish returned to the water as a big population of bullheads will eventually ruin the trout fishing.

• If the Chinook salmon returns for 2014 hold up to the early forecast, anglers could anticipate fisheries similar to those opened in 2008 and 2009. In those years, fisheries were opened in the Clearwater, Snake, lower Salmon, Little Salmon and South Fork Salmon rivers. Idaho fish managers estimate 39,900 hatchery fish destined for Idaho’s Clearwater, Snake and Salmon rivers will cross Lower Granite Dam. Last year, only about 25,500 hatchery spring and summer Chinook salmon returned to the same Idaho waters. In years past, Chinook seasons have opened in late April.

Heads up

Great Getaways, a new feature on the WDFW’s website, showcases some of the state’s best family travel and fishing opportunities, from the Pacific Coast and the Columbia River to the trout lakes of the Selkirk Mountains. Profiles of 14 vacation destinations provide vacation planners tips on where to go, what to catch, and where to stay. Each article includes links to state parks, public campgrounds, and nearby visitor information services. href=”http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/vacation/”>http://wdfw.wa.gov /fishing/vacation/.

Fly fishing

If you’re looking for solitude and decent fishing, the Clearwater River is the place to be. River conditions there –as they are for all eastern Washington steelhead waters, including the Methow and the Grande Ronde – are perfect, and once the high pressure system is gone fishing should improve.

The lower Coeur d’Alene River is clear again and fishing pretty well. It’s not lights-out action, but a good cure for cabin fever. Fish the slow water with streamers.

Open-water fishing

Kokanee fishermen on Lake Roosevelt were taking some nice fish on top this week in the vicinity of Plum Creek by trolling flashers and pink Mini Squid with a Macks Smile Blade. Tip the hook with maggots or white corn. The same rig is also catching rainbows.

The Keller Ferry trout bite has been excellent under four colors of leaded line.

Frisky Jenny’s Trick r Treat flies were accounting for a lot of fish including some big carryovers. Tip the trailer hook with a piece of nightcrawler. Rip’n Minnows, which were hot two weeks ago, aren’t doing much.

The Spokane Arm of Lake Roosevelt is giving up some 16- to 20-inch walleyes in 30 to 60 feet of water. Drag baited jigs.

Rock Lake has provided fair action on trolled Rapalas. Many of the fish are taken on the east side, and most are browns ranging from 12 to 14 inches. An occasional big rainbow is also landed.

The can line near the dam on Rufus Woods is producing the largest rainbow in the region as well as some big kokanee. Small hootchies will attract either species, but some type of Wooly Bugger-style fly with a little Flashabou is consistently good for the triploids. Anglers who fished the can line this week said a purple Apex trolled shallow was what was working. Many of the fish have tags from the Colville Tribe with a number to call to report your catch.

Ice fishing

Lind Coulee in the Columbia Basin has at least 6 inches of good ice and has been pretty consistent for nice perch and some small walleye in 30 feet of water.

The larger Eloika Lake perch are being taken north of Jerry’s Landing in 10 to 12 feet of water. Crappie anglers have made good catches at times also, but complain that very few meet the 9-inch minimum. My group of friends has strongly considered setting up a tent, heater and lights, and trying for crappie after dark. If nothing else, it will be an adventure. A good crappie rig at Eloika in winter is a Glo-Hook tipped with maggots on mono four inches below a Swedish Pimple or Kastmaster.

The bite has picked up and Moses Lake perch fishermen are back at Blue Heron Park north of the I-90 Bridge. The bites come in bunches as schools of fish move through. Anglers are also catching small walleye.

Idaho’s Upper Twin has a solid 9 inches of ice. Fishing is steady straight out from the launch, but the perch are small. Bigger perch are available at Fernan. The Chain Lakes and Lake Chatcolet at the end of Lake Coeur d’Alene have been fair for pike on tip-ups. Most are 4 to 8 pounds, but an occasional fish in the teens is taken.

Other species

Burbot fishing has tapered off near Buoy 5 in the Spokane Arm, but the good news is the fish are being found closer to the Porcupine Bay launch near Buoy 1. Craig Dowdy of YJ Guide Service says sometimes you can take a fast limit in one hole, and sometimes you have to jump around. He looks for the deepest water he can find in each bay, typically 40 to 70 feet. Dowdy has also been catching walleye, but says the bigger fish are still out in the main lake.

The Yakima is one of Washington’s best whitefish rivers each winter and the deeper, slower water in the Yakima Canyon produces good to excellent fishing. The Yakima winds through the canyon, paralleled the entire distance by Highway 821, so access for bank and wading anglers is good.

A largely overlooked whitefish destination is the Spokane River, particularly below Nine Mile Falls. Water there now is clear, and a small fly and maggot dragged on bottom will take fish.

Hunting

Washington waterfowl hunters have today through Sunday to get in some final cracks at ducks and geese. There are good numbers of honkers on local rivers and reservoirs. After Sunday, rabbits are the only game still open in Washington, though coyotes never close. In Idaho, there is another week of chukar, quail, gray partridge and quail hunting before the season ends. Canada geese and ducks are already closed, though there will be a white goose hunt later.

Contact Alan Liere by email at spokesmanliere@yahoo.com

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