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Alan Liere’s fish and game report for March 16

UPDATED: Wed., March 15, 2017, 1:06 p.m.

Fly fishing

The middle section of the Spokane River is open year round, but not very fishable at this time. The upper and lower sections are now closed.

An ice cap remains on many local waters, including those that opened on March 1. An exception is Lake Lenice, a quality fly fishing lake near Beverly, Washington, where opening day anglers reported good catch-and-release rainbow trout for fish averaging 14 inches.

Silver Bow Fly Shop is hosting another International Fly Fishing Film Festival on Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Garland Theater in Spokane. The films consist of short and feature length films produced by professional filmmakers from all corners of the globe, showcasing the passion, lifestyle and culture of fly fishing, Tickets may be purchased at the door for $18 or online for $14. Cash and credit cards accepted.

Salmon and steelhead

The Clearwater River from the mouth to Orofino as well as the North and South Fork Clearwater had by far the best steelheading of all Idaho waters last week with an average of one fish for every four or fewer angler hours.

The Tucannon River in Columbia County is a small tributary of the Snake River, and it is loaded with hatchery steelhead the game department would like to see caught. The water is high this week and fishing will be tough, but when things settle down it should be excellent. Anglers may keep three hatchery steelhead through April 15. There is a mandatory hatchery steelhead retention rule in place. Highway 261 parallels the river for a good deal of its length and anglers should be able to find good fishing water near the town of Starbuck.

Open Water Fishing

Pike anglers are making the most of a good bite for relatively large fish on the Kettle River, even as WDFW nets the bays.

Friends who fished from shore near Hansen Harbor this week reported a good trout bite using Power Bait. Roughly a dozen Lake Roosevelt launches are now out of the water. All the major launches, however, are still usable as the water level is at 1,254 feet.

The unstable weather seems to have scattered Lake Roosevelt kokanee. If you can get out after two consistent days, whether stormy or calm, your chances will improve. The best recent reports come from Spring Canyon.

Rainbow fishing is said to be fair for trollers, and walleye anglers are finding lots of fish and even a few large ones on jigs and blade baits off the points and islands up the Spokane Arm. The water is stained and there is ice coming down at times, but the launch at Porcupine Bay is usable even though the dock has not been moved down with the falling water.

Rufus Woods Lake has been decent all winter, but the 12,900 two-pound rainbow released Feb. 28 have substantially bumped the catches, and anglers pulling plugs are also taking a lot of 4- to 5-pound triploids and some even larger. About 20 percent of Rufus trout are wearing a tag, and anglers are asked to call in basic information to the Colville Tribe when they catch one. There is a number printed on the tags.

The Tucannon Lakes in Columbia County are all ice-free and fishing has been good. WDFW made another plant of jumbo trout this week and more catchables are scheduled for next week. These are all bank fishing lakes and success has been best with Power Bait on the bottom. Info: The Last Resort (509) 843-1556.

A friend from Moses Lake says there is open water around the I-90 Bridge and it may be possible to get to it from the State Park launch by the weekend. This is usually the time of year the big perch move into the area to spawn. Potholes Reservoir is still frozen with open water around the edges.

Ice Fishing

As always, this is a transitional time of year for anglers, and locating good ice has become a challenge. There has been some ice fishing but little success at Downs and Medical lakes. Even Eloika, the go-to ice fishery, has been hit or miss recently, and the ice is again pulling away from shore. A few anglers have been testing the ice at Liberty Lake, which opened March 1. There was still plenty of ice early in the week, but a long plank is needed to get on it from shore as there is water around the edge. Perch and small crappie and bluegill have been biting in 25 feet of water.

The east end of Sprague Lake has some open water and a small boat could be launched at the primitive private launch on the south side. The public access is still iced in. The lake is very high.

Banks Lake still had good ice at mid-week and anglers who knew how to detect the subtle bite were taking whitefish. A lot of small baited lures will work for whitefish, but a standard kokanee rig – a Glo Hook tipped with maggots – is as good as anything.

The Quincy Valley Chamber of Commerce is still hoping to hold their trout derby on Burke Lake March 25, but currently Burke, like other desert lakes, has a lot of ice. There is some open water at the eastern end.

Spirit Lake ice fishermen were landing lots of small kokanee this week. Most of the fish are down approximately 20 feet deep in 80 feet of water. Most anglers are fishing straight out from the boat launch at Nautical Loop, roughly 150 yards from shore.

Hayden Lake still has ice and a few anglers were out on it this week and catching kokanee northeast of the city launch. Two anglers, however, fell through near the dock at Honeysuckle while leaving the lake. My advice for anyone intent on ice fishing anywhere: Leave your wallet in the vehicle.

Many Lake Coeur d’Alene bays are still iced over, discouraging anglers who are accustomed to drifting herring under a bobber for pike in March.

Other species

Ice on the Spokane Arm of Lake Roosevelt pretty much shut down the burbot fishing this year, and the prime time for catching that species is past. The spawning cycle is over and the fish are dispersing. Walleye anglers will still catch the odd burbot, but they are no longer in big schools.

Contact Alan Liere at spokesmanliere@yahoo.com



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