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.
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.
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.
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.
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.