The Spokane River is one of the better fly fishing options right now, but it is high and could be difficult to fish. Look for trout near the banks in the brush and weeds. Nymphs and streamers will be best from here on out.
Fly fishermen are doing well around the net pens on Rufus Woods Reservoir. Because they do not use any bait or scent, they have been able to catch and release a lot of trout. Some of these are up to 5 pounds, but most are the smaller, sub-2-pound triploids.
Silver Bow Fly Shop reminds fly fishermen that Rocky Ford will be a very good option from now until spring. Stripping streamers, scuds, midge pupa, or small pt style nymphs will bring the best results.
Whitefish action is picking up on the lower stretches of the North Fork Coeur d’Alene. The Copper John fly is a good one to start with.
The Grande Ronde is iced up along the banks and has lots of slush. It would be pretty tough to fish at this time. Clearwater anglers are still catching a few “keeper” sub 28-inch steelhead by bouncing bait or dark-colored jigs. The Snake River is fishable, but cold. Get your offering close to the bottom in slow runs.
In both Washington and Idaho, ice fishermen were getting excited about the possibility of hard water angling before Christmas, but at this time the ice is not safe anywhere. Round Lake and Lower Twin near Rathdrum, for example, have a cap, but it is only about a half-inch thick. Cougar Bay on Lake Coeur d’Alene is capped with about two inches, which isn’t enough to be safe. Other north Idaho lakes around Coeur d’Alene have little or no ice.
Sprague Lake, Eloika Lake and Silver Lake in Washington have ice, but not much. It is still possible to launch at Sprague and fish open water. Waitts Lake fishermen are still trolling, still catching trout, and Curlew Lake fishermen are still dunking worms for perch and trout from a boat. Fourth of July has ice around the edges, but the middle is open. Fishing has been poor. Hatch Lake up north has thin ice. With rain and warmer weather forecast for the weekend, it looks like safe ice fishing will begin much later this year than last, when initial efforts began around Dec. 17.
Trout and kokanee
Lake Roosevelt is roughly five feet from full pool and that plus the recent full moon perhaps accounted for the slow trout fishing last week. A friend fishing from shore near Hansen Harbor said he had just three bites and one fish in four hours, and the fish checker said his luck had been better than most bank fishermen that day.
Lake Roosevelt trollers report better results with plugs and flies near Keller and up the Spokane Arm. The trout have been in the top 15 feet of water, and are said to average 16 inches. Launches are getting slippery because many anglers pull their boats out quickly rather than let them drip a bit near the water. It would be prudent to carry a bag of sand.
Three lakes in Okanogan County opened for catch-and-keep trout fishing on Dec. 1: Rat Lake near Brewster and Upper and Lower Green lakes near Omak. These fisheries provide good angling throughout the winter months, either on open water – as they are now – or iced-over later in the season. The usual catch is rainbow trout in the 10- to 12-inch range.
There are some good triploid reports coming from Rufus Woods Reservoir from the area around the net pens. Bank anglers are doing well from there all the way to the dam wherever they can find access. Brandts landing has been good for some nice fish from shore by anglers floating a small jig under a bobber and retrieving slowly.
Lake Pend Oreille trout are a good bet right now. Some big fish have been taken on or near the surface recently on a variety of plugs and flies.
There is a good lake trout bite now at Priest Lake. Troll slowly and deep with Flatfish or Kwikfish, or try jigging rocky points and drop offs.
Walleye fishing is good right now on upper Rufus Woods Reservoir, and over on Lake Roosevelt, some good reports are also filtering in. The road to Porcupine Bay is still blocked, but anglers who launch at Ft. Spokane or 7-Bays and make the run are finding fish there.
Blade baits are paying off for walleye anglers on Potholes Reservoir and on Lake Roosevelt.
Craig Dowdy, of Y.J. Guide Service, says the burbot fishery on Lake Roosevelt should take off in the next two weeks. Last year was a slow burbot year, but the year before was excellent. The tasty – although homely – fish is gaining popularity.
Anglers targeting Banks Lake whitefish are doing very well after dark on the north end by the buoy line.
Hopefully, the projected cold temperatures for Canada next week will send more ducks this way. After a fast start, few new birds have moved in, and the ones that haven’t already moved on are difficult to decoy. The Moses Lake area has been very poor for duck hunters but there are good numbers of geese there and in the Tri-Cities.
The consensus among Washington pheasant hunters is that this is the best year in several. Bird numbers are not approaching the high numbers of the 1960s and 70s, but the legion of hunters accustomed to minimal sightings the past few years no longer feel they are just taking their shotguns for a walk. Quail are where you find them – not necessarily in the usual spots. A few good reports have come from gunners along Lake Roosevelt and Rufus Woods.
A parade of coyotes, including one with only three legs, went past my house this week within 60 yards of the back door. One, an obvious youngster, walked to within 10 feet of my barking dogs, then just sat and stared at them. I personally would rather watch coyotes than shoot them, but if that’s your thing, this is an excellent time to find one wandering about at mid-day.
Contact Alan Liere at spokesmanliere@ yahoo.com