March 7, 2014 in Outdoors

Hunting and fishing

By The Spokesman-Review
 
Tip of the week

• There’s no sense waiting. Get your WDFW hunting and fishing licenses online now and be ready for the April 15 general turkey opener and the April 26 fishing opener. Both expire March 31. Fishing licenses, hunting licenses and the Discover Pass are all available online at fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov/, by phone at (866) 246-9453 or from license dealers around the state.

Heads up

• The Inland Northwest Wildlife Council’s 54th annual Big Horn Outdoor Adventure Show runs March 20-23, at the Spokane County Fair and Expo Center.

• Two sections of the Okanogan River close to steelhead fishing today. They are the from the first power line crossing downstream of the Highway 155 Bridge in Omak to the mouth of Omak Creek and from the Tonasket Bridge downstream to the Tonasket Lagoons Park boat launch. All other areas currently allowing steelhead fishing on the Columbia, Okanogan, Methow, Wenatchee, and Similkameen rivers remain open.

Fly Fishing

Fly fishing is a good option now at Lenice, Nunnally or Dusty. Lenore – open for catch and release only – is still frozen. Medical Lake has some open water on the south end.

The Methow should stay good for the rest of the season. Try swinging a black leech. The Ronde continues to rise. The Spokane River will most likely be unfishable, as will the North Fork Coeur d’Alene.

Trout and kokanee

Three colors of leaded line and 50 feet of leader are getting trollers into Lake Roosevelt rainbow in front of the swimming area near Ft. Spokane. Many anglers are fishing flies with no flasher and doing well at speeds of 1.8-2.5 mph, particularly on the turns. Bank fishermen are also doing well, but there were a few days during the really cold weather when fishing was tough.

Fourth of July has been slow. The narrows are ice-free, and a few fish measuring 20 inches have been caught from shore recently. No word from Hog Canyon. Rock Lake has gone down some, but the water is still murky and fishing has been poor. Coffeepot is still mostly ice.

It was raining and the wind was blowing Thursday when three friends and I fished through 8 inches of ice near the Deer Lake Narrows, but the fishing was worth it. Though not fast, we landed three rainbow up to 19 inches and six brookies up to 17 inches.

Liberty Lake was a disappointment on the opener as the ice on the south end had blown across the lake and was blocking the public access. Liberty will boot out some really big brown trout in the weeks to come.

It was cold, windy and snowing on the March 1 opener of the Columbia Basin lakes, but many had lost their ice. Caliche was open and most anglers were catching the smaller hatchery plants, but there were some carryovers too. Martha Lake anglers were also doing very well. Upper Caliche, Martha, Burke, and the Quincy lakes usually remain good well into the summer. Upper Caliche and the Quincy lakes are usually best for larger carryovers.

The Tucannon lakes saw a lot of happy anglers on the March 1 opener, as fishing was reported to be very good. The lakes had been stocked with catchables and several hundred jumbos.

March is the last month to keep fish caught in several Okanogan County lakes. Big and Little Green lakes near Omak, Rat Lake near Brewster, and Davis Lake near Winthrop have been producing rainbow trout catches through the ice. Patterson Lake near Winthrop, which is open year-round, also has been a good spot for ice-fishing for trout. So far, the ice is holding, but proceed with caution.

Salmon and steelhead

The Clearwater River from the mouth to Orofino has seen very good fishing recently. The Salmon and its tributaries have also been kicking out a lot of fish.

Shane Magnuson at Upper Columbia Guide Service reports good steelhead fishing on the Methow River. He said dark purple shrimp brined in garlic made all the difference in the world.

Hatchery steelhead tend to go on the bite right before the season closes March 31. Some of the best catch rates of the season are often recorded in March near the Ringold Springs Hatchery. Fisheries for hatchery steelhead are open through March on the Snake River and on the Columbia River downstream from the wooden power line towers at the Old Hanford town site.

The main attraction on the Columbia River this month is the spring Chinook fishery in the lower river, the first major salmon fishery of 2014. Anglers caught a few early arrivals in February, but the real action begins later this month. Initial seasons set by fishery managers from Washington and Oregon are as follows:

Below Bonneville Dam: Open from March 1 through April 7 to boat and bank fishing from Buoy 10 upstream to Beacon Rock. Bank fishing will also be allowed from Beacon Rock upriver to the fishing boundary just below the dam. The sport fishery will be closed Tuesday, March 25 and Tuesday, April 1 to allow for potential commercial fisheries. The adult daily catch limit will be two adipose-fin-clipped salmon or steelhead in combination, of which no more than one may be a Chinook.

Above Bonneville Dam: Open daily from March 16 through May 9 to boat and bank anglers between the Tower Island power lines and the Washington-Oregon state line, 17 miles above McNary Dam. Bank anglers can also fish from Bonneville Dam upriver to the Tower Island power lines during that time. Limits are the same as below the dam.

Spiny ray

This is the time of year when the walleye fishing on the Columbia River and on Lake Roosevelt gets going. The Two Rivers area and the Spokane Arm of Roosevelt are usually the first to heat up. Jiggers are catching quite a few small fish. The Columbia River pools are heating up for walleye, and after word of last Friday’s new Washington state record of 20.32 pounds, the Wallula area is likely to be buzzing with boat traffic.

There is still some floating ice on Banks Lake – enough to make navigating tough, but the North Basin is open, as are most of the launches. Walleye action could begin at any time.

Hunting

The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission will accept comments on proposed changes to state hunting rules for deer, elk, moose and other game species during a public meeting in Moses Lake. The commission will convene at 8 a.m. today and 8:30 a.m. Saturday at the Moses Lake Civic Center, 401 S. Balsam St.

Contact Alan Liere at spokesmanliere @yahoo.com

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