Streamer fishing has been most productive on the Spokane River using heavy sink-tips to mine the deep slack water pools. Nymphing a stone/prince or worm has been good too.
The Clark Fork River is at a fishable level. Once again, go deep with streamers and nymphs.
Salmon and steelhead
The Grande Ronde shore ice has melted and fishing is reported to be good, particularly near the mouth. The Snake River also has good water. Most of the steelhead fishing is taking place above the Grande Ronde mouth.
Despite the low numbers of returning steelhead to the Clearwater River, Kyle Jones Sportfishing reports very good fishing on the Clearwater, with boats averaging 8 to 10 fish landed per day. The best success has come from side-drifting pegged beads and yarn and egg combinations. Info: (208) 861-0654
Safe ice for fishing is still at a premium. Avondale in Idaho is probably the closest right now to being fishable, with 2.5 inches of ice, but Avondale has a lot of springs, and it would be prudent to wait until after the predicted freezing temperatures have endured for a few days. Round Lake is ice-covered but only about an inch thick, and at Spirit Lake the bay at the boat launch at Nautical Loop only had ice from shore to about 10 feet out early this week. In Washington, Lower Twin is iced over, but not safe. The upper lake is open. Eloika Lake and others still needs a week of really cold weather. Waitts Lake remains fishable from a boat.
Trout and kokanee
Some optimistic anglers are of the opinion Lake Roosevelt kokanee will soon make an appearance, despite a summer and fall with very few landed. A better bet is the rainbow fishing, which has taken up the slack and remains good most days all over the reservoir. Several outstanding reports came in this week from those trolling between Seven Bays and Ft. Spokane with numerous fish over 18 inches landed. The fish are still within 15 feet of the surface.
Two friends actually caught a kokanee – a 16-incher – out of the Hawk Creek Canyon on Lake Roosevelt this week, and it came on the first cast. After that, nothing.
Banks Lake rainbow are not as numerous as they were a couple of years ago, but the fish being caught run 2-4 pounds and larger. Rapalas, Owners and Apexes trolled at 10-15 feet have accounted for some quality fish.
Banks Lake walleye anglers were disappointed the torrid nighttime bite of last week didn’t continue this week, but it is common knowledge among walleye anglers that a bountiful catch is a matter of getting on a big school and staying with it. Points that drop off into 40-50 feet of water would be a good place to start. Go deep with blade baits, drop-shots or jigs tipped with worm.
Close to Banks Lake, Rufus Woods Reservoir was on fire for walleye on the flats in front of the net pens this week. Bottom bouncers and spinners and drop-shot rigs were equally effective.
The annual New Year’s Eve razor clam dig is on at Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis and Mocrocks with low tide at 5:12 p.m. The next day, Jan. 1, the opening continues at Twin Harbors and Mocrocks with a low tide of -1.7 feet at 6.02 p.m.
Whitefish anglers are having success on the Kettle River near the mouth by the Kamloops Campground. The deeper pools under the bridges at Barstow and Orient have also been good. Near Yakima, the Naches, Tieton, Cle Elum and Bumping rivers have good whitefish numbers now. In Idaho, try the Clearwater River below Kooskia, the lower Selway or the Lochsa.
According to Lou Nevsimal at Coulee Playland Resort on Banks Lake, fishing for 1.25- to 4-pound whitefish can range right now from dead to “gangbusters.” Maggots or small shrimp on a vertical presentation usually do best, but some angles prefer artificials and catch their share of fish on a variety of beads, flies and jigs. The fish, Nevsimal says, come into shallow water at night to spawn and can be caught close to shore in as little as four feet. They can also be caught during the day, but are much deeper. The north end is the most popular, but Nevsimal says the fish could be anywhere. He says the back of the Devil’s Punchbowl could be good, as could the water between Barker and Devil’s Lake, but most anglers would go with what they know rather than prospect.
There are a lot of geese in the area but also a lot of open water. Look for that to change starting Thursday as temperatures plummet and more water becomes ice-capped. Then, field shooting will be your best bet, and you won’t have to drive to Moses Lake or Tri-Cities to find feeding Canadas. A long evening or morning drive on back roads in any direction out of Spokane or Coeur d’Alene should give you an idea of where to seek permission to hunt.
While pheasant numbers are up, I receive very few reports of grey partridge, and have seen only a couple of flocks in what should be good cover. Quail hunting seems to be either all or nothing, with some very good habitat devoid of birds, and other places that must have had multiple spring hatches.
Coyote hunters saw a lot of song dogs during the snow cap late last week, but when the animals don’t have to feed all day sightings go down and the melting snow makes them less visible. That could change soon as temperatures are set to drop again with more snow on the way. Some coyote hunters report they are getting as much as $90 per pelt this winter.
Contact Alan Liere at firstname.lastname@example.org