March 20, 2014 in Outdoors

Hunting and fishing

By Correspondent
Tip of the week

Most local pheasant preserves are shutting down around the first of April. If you want to get in a final training sessions or two with your dog, be advised that in the spring breeding season, pheasants are wired to seek out the company of other birds and do not often stay where they are planted. Sometimes, having two birds put out in the same spot will keep them from running off before you get there.


• “While hunter numbers continue to drop among men, women hunter numbers are rising. Women’s influence over the next generation of hunters is profound. A mother who hunts influences 64 percent of her sons and 50 percent of her daughters to hunt as well, compared to 45 percent of sons and 13 percent of daughters who will hunt as adults if they are only taken hunting by their dad,” says Holly Endersby, Conservation Director for Backcountry Hunters and Anglers.

• With the steep drawdown of Wanapum Dam Reservoir to repair a large crack in the dam, the fish ladders are high and dry. Fish biologists, engineers, and stakeholders are developing plans to modify the two fish ladders at Wanapum to allow migrating salmon and steelhead to safely pass the dam when the adult spring Chinook salmon run begins in mid-April. If fish begin to arrive before a system is in place, they will be trapped below Priest Rapids Dam and trucked to an appropriate location.

Heads up

• The Spokane Big Horn Show begins today with gates opening at noon. Gates open at noon Friday, also, and at 10 A.M. Saturday and Sunday.

• Water discharged from Dworshak Dam may fluctuate to accommodate run-off as warmer springtime conditions melt snow. Corps officials advise boaters and other persons using waterways, both in Dworshak Reservoir and below the dam on the Clearwater River, to be alert to changes in water elevation and volume of flow.

• Lake Roosevelt is projected to be at 1,270 feet above sea level by Saturday, making most of the launches useable. Hawk Creek, Marcus Island, Evans, North Gorge, Napoleon Bridge, Snag Cove and China Bend are the exceptions. Jones Bay, Crescent Bay, Daisy and French Rocks are close to being useable.

Fly Fishing

At Silver Bow Fly Shop, Sean Visintainer says he and his crew have been fishing the lower ends of the St. Joe and the Coeur d’Alene rivers and doing quite well on olive and yellow streamers and marabou leeches. He says floating is best, but wading is possible. Fish the soft pockets with sink tips.

Amber, Medical and Coffeepot are all ice free and fishable. Coffeepot is very low but some big trout are hitting. Go deep with purple or black Buggers or Leeches.

Rocky Ford trout can be notoriously fickle, but one angler interviewed this week said changing to a 4-pound leader made all the difference in the world.

Trout and kokanee

The ice is gone from Hog Canyon, but the water is extremely dirty and most anglers are giving up after a short time with no fish. Hog Canyon and Fourth of July as well as Williams and Hatch in Stevens County close at the end of the month.

Liberty Lake bank and dock fishermen are catching very few rainbow and browns, and reports indicate it is tough to get a larger boat launched at the public access due to low water. So far this season, Liberty has been a disappointment.

Sprague Lake trollers are marking lots of fish on bottom, but sometimes it’s hard to get them to bite. That said, anglers have caught quite a few rainbow over 20 inches since ice-out. Small hootchies tipped with worm were working this week. Experiment with colors until you find one they like. Sprague Lake Resort will be open this weekend.

Lake Roosevelt trout running 14-21 inches were hitting this week in Spring Canyon. A variety of lures were working, but depth seemed more critical than usual. The 18-foot mark was most consistent. A few large kokanee were also landed by anglers pulling surface lures such as Apexes and Wedding Rings over deep water.

The big rainbow are beginning to bite again on Potholes Reservoir, with trollers reporting fish from MarDon Resort to Medicare Beach. Many of these trout are over 4 pounds.

Burke Lake in the Quincy Lake system in Grant County has been good for both boat and shore anglers. Most of the fish are 11-14 inches, but ever so often, a trout over 4 pounds is landed. Rainbow-colored PowerBait has been popular. Put it close to the bottom using a slip sinker. Martha and Caliche are also providing good catches.

Roses Lake near Chelan is booting out some good-sized rainbow for trollers dragging flies or flies and flashers.

Anglers fishing Lake Chelan are finding a few kokanee near the Yacht Club, but some good numbers are said to be available in the vicinity of Safety Harbor, a long ways up lake. Mill Bay and Rocky Point should be producing soon. Currently, anglers are catching more trout than kokanee. Watch out for debris in the water – there’s a lot of it.

Rufus Woods was good this week between Seaton Grove and the net pens. Trollers pulling Rip’n Minnows close to shore in depths of 8-18 feet were catching good numbers of triploids 2-5 pounds.

The Dent Acres boat ramp on Dworshak Reservoir opened last Saturday and the campground will open March 28. Kokanee fishing is really starting to pick up near the dam and at Canton Creek. Most kokes are averaging about 10-inches long and are pretty fat, said Paul Pence, natural resources manager at the dam.

The kokanee bite has slowed some on Hayden Lake in Idaho, but some beautiful stringers of fish up to 17 inches have come in. Wedding Rings and maggots are drawing strikes, but the fish have been everywhere – from the surface to 90 feet down

Salmon and steelhead

The Grande Ronde was running at 7,860 cfs on Wednesday – a little high, but a good “steelhead green.” Corkies and yarn are taking steelhead, which are a little smaller than usual but in good shape.

While Lake Roosevelt anglers expect to catch kokanee this time of year, it is not unheard of to land a Chinook. A couple lucky anglers did just that this week, the largest a six-pounder. Both fish hit Rapalas trolled just below the surface.

Spiny ray

Walleye anglers are finding themselves catching very little in the Spokane Arm due to the chocolate-colored water. There were some reports of success, but nothing over 21 inches near Two Rivers or Sterling Point. A variety of techniques are working, but slow jigging Gulp Minnows and dead-sticking grubs got the most fish this week.

The upper end of Rufus Woods has been productive for walleye. There are several spots above Rocky Reach to Wells Dam on the Columbia that will be seeing some action soon.

Newman Lake still had a little ice at mid-week, but boating was possible and at least two tiger muskies have already been caught.

Potholes Reservoir has been very good at times for walleye. The fish appear to be moving toward their spawning areas as the shallower humps are stacking up with fish. Silver blade baits have been working well.

Coeur d’Alene pike are moving in good numbers into the bays where herring under a bobber are taking fish. Use caution if running a boat on Coeur d’Alene as there is quite a bit of wood in the water.

Other species

The sport clam season opens April 1 in Sequim Bay State Park. This beach is located in Clallam County, near Sequim. Surveys indicate the clam population on this beach is very good. Sport clam and oyster season has been delayed at North Bay (Case Inlet), due to overharvest, however, and will not open until June 1. It won’t open until July 1 at Potlatch State Park and South Indian Island County Park.

Contact Alan Liere at

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