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Hunting and fishing

Fri., March 14, 2014

Fly fishing

Fourth of July is ice-free and though the fishing isn’t fast, the fish are large. Fly fishermen are having success with dark-colored leech patterns fished deep on an indicator close to shore. Amber Lake is also ice-free and getting a lot of attention.

There is still a lot of melting snow at the higher elevations, so it is unlikely there will be any river fishing soon in Washington, Idaho or Montana.

Trout and kokanee

The browns and rainbows have been biting well at Medical Lake, a selective gear water near the town of Medical Lake. Fish up to 22 inches are hitting spoons, flies and spinner flies close to shore. Medical has a two-fish limit and a 14-inch minimum.

Liberty Lake was very slow this week, but every year at this time, both boat and shore anglers catch some really large brown trout. That should happen again—perhaps this week. A couple of anglers trying for crappie reported catching only a two-pound bass,

Trout reports from Roosevelt this week indicated the bite was off considerably earlier in the week, picking up again later. Three friends fishing the Sterling area caught only three in a long day and two friends at Ft. Spokane found it equally slow. Two bank anglers fishing with Power Bait at Hunters caught only two fish between them, but noted that a lady fishing just around the corner from them caught a quick limit on marshmallows. Friends who visited Jones Bay on Tuesday caught seven big rainbow from shore, throwing marshmallows. A few kokanee were caught this week in Spring Canyon.

Sprague Lake has been very good for big rainbow. Trollers are catching them near the bottom and fishermen tossing green Power Bait from the public access are also doing well.

Almost 380 anglers participated in the 4th Annual Tagged Trout Derby in Quincy last weekend on Quincy and Burke lakes in the Columbia Basin and five anglers caught tagged fish—one worth $1,000. The fishing wasn’t fast, but most people in the tournament caught fish. Other lakes in the chain are also producing. Martha may be the best.

Rock Lake is dirty with only a foot of visibility but there are fish to be had, and a few very large browns have been landed. Most of the rocks that have wreaked havoc in the past are now below the prop zone and launching is easy, but if you are new to the lake, go slow.

Everyone seems to be catching at least a couple of the large Lake Chelan kokanee, but the trout bite has been much better for fish running to 16 inches. Fishing is still slow in the Mill Bay area and most anglers are running up the lake to find good numbers. Chelan will improve as the weather warms.

Friends fished Rufus Woods this week, launching at Seaton Grove and fishing toward the first net pens. They found the fishing slow, but another group of anglers fishing two days later said they trolled shallow for lots of fish running mostly 3-5 pounds.

Salmon and steelhead

Chinook Fishing has been good on Lake Coeur d’Alene, says Jeff Smith at Fins and Feathers. The fish are coming up, and anglers trolling helmeted herring are getting good numbers of 7-10 pounders from the surface to 30 feet. A Chinook stretching 33 inches was caught recently.

Spring Chinook angling is open from Buoy 10 to Beacon Rock, plus from the banks only from Beacon Rock to Bonneville Dam. Currently, water levels are high and catch rates are low.

The Wind River opens to hatchery Chinook fishing Sunday from the mouth (boundary line markers) upstream to the Burlington Northern Railroad Bridge with a limit of two salmon or steelhead or one of each. Anglers with a two-pole endorsement may fish with two poles May 1 through June 30.

Hatchery steelhead are now concentrated in smaller rivers, so spring is a good time to fish for them—when water flows settle down. With the recent rain, snowmelt and shore ice, fishing conditions along the upper Salmon River have been challenging, yet anglers continue to find success. Water conditions are expected to improve heading into the upcoming weekend.

The steelhead limits for the spring 2014 season on the Snake, Boise, Salmon and Little Salmon rivers are three per day and nine in possession. The limit in the Clearwater drainage is still one hatchery fish per day and two in possession. Only those 28 inches or less in length may be kept in the North Fork Clearwater River and the Clearwater River downstream of the Orofino Bridge.

Spiny ray

There is still plenty of ice for safe fishing on Eloika Lake, but getting onto the ice is a bit of a challenge. The gap between the shoreline and ice is growing daily, so unless you can find a dock to step from, ice fishing could be over for the year. The same is true for most area ice fishing lakes.

As of mid-week, the bridge at Oldtown was the only place a boat could be launched on the Pend Oreille River. Pike anglers are getting a few, mostly by hanging bait under a bobber close to shore. The same fishing method is being utilized on Lake Coeur d’Alene, which is muddy and rising fast. A 24-pounder was caught this week in the Wolf Lodge area, and there have also been catches reported from Mica Bay and Harrison.

Walleye fishing was excellent in The Dalles and John Day pools last week, but the Spokane Arm of Lake Roosevelt was blown out at mid-week and no one was fishing for ‘eyes.

Coeur‘d Alene Lake is blowing the ice out of the Chain Lakes. Ice fishing is over for the year there as it is in most Idaho lakes with the possible exception of those to the north of Sandpoint. Fernan has open water at both ends and a few trout are being taken from shore.

Other species

Friends who fished for channel cats at the mouth of the Palouse River near Lyons Ferry last weekend only caught one fish. They said the river was running hard and is as high as they’ve ever seen it.

Sturgeon fishing was good at all three Columbia River pools last week, with several keepers and a lot of sub-legals. Sturgeon fishing on the Snake River usually gets good in March around Lower Granite Dam, but until they start spilling water, there won’t be much happening.

Anglers fishing from shore under the Ft. Spokane Bridge on Wednesday were catching quite a few small lingcod. They said the water coming down was chocolate-colored on one side of the bridge and crystal clear on the other.

Contact Alan Liere by email at

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