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Alan Liere’s fish and game report for May 18

Wed., May 17, 2017, 1:31 p.m.

Fly fishing

Most rivers are on the high side of fishable this week. Lake anglers at Amber, Coffeepot, Sprague, Badger and other lowland lakes say fishing is “decent” but not fast and that the leech and balance leech game seems to be the most consistent.

Salmon and steelhead

Munden’s Rising Son Adventures says springer fishing at Drano Lake has been fantastic despite the low run and cold water. According to the report, the salmon are not hitting the bait very hard so you have to really let them munch it before trying to set the hook. Info: (509) 492-8852.

Trout and Kokanee

Williams Lake remains good for planter rainbow, but a number of the jumbos have also been caught recently. West Medical has been fair. At Waitts Lake, anglers report catching planter rainbow as well as brown trout up to 15 inches. Liberty Lake, too, is giving up some brown trout to anglers casting bait from shore. Some of these have been over 20 inches.

Four Seasons Resort on Sprague Lake reports the water is still too high to put in the docks, but the launch is usable if you bring boots. Sprague has seen more rainbow than steelhead this spring, but some fish of both types are approaching five pounds. On Tuesday, an angler abandoned his fly and flasher and went to a broken back brown trout Rapala trolled on the surface. His limit of five trout weighed 21 pounds.

Mackinaw fishing is good at Priest Lake, but you’ll have to search a little until you find a column of fish – usually in water over 130 feet deep. Use electronics to stay on the pile and drop a Glo tube jig baited with a piece of northern pikeminnow.

Lake Coeur d’Alene kokanee are biting around Spokane and East Point, but the fish are still only 7-8 inches long. Pend Oreille kokes are also hitting, and most are at least 3 inches larger.

Dave Grove, of Captain Dave’s Guide Service, says rainbow and kokanee fishing on Lake Roosevelt has not been particularly hot, but there are fish to be had. Grove has been finding both rainbow and kokanee 5-10 feet down by trolling flies. He said his largest kokanee this week was 23 inches. Info: (509) 939-6727.

The Tucannon Lakes are still fishing well for planted rainbow. Watson Lake is said to be the best. Anglers throwing spinner flies and spoons are doing well.

Kokanee fishing remains good at Hayden Lake. Anglers have done well on only three colors of leaded line and an Arctic Fox Fly tipped with corn. Most of the fish are 12-15 inches.

On Lake Chelan, kokanee fishing is good in Manson Bay and mackinaw fishing is hot around the State Park. If the wind stays down, a trip uplake for cutthroat trout can be a lot of fun and the scenery is spectacular. Casting Roostertails when you see surface action is the most effective technique.

Spiny Ray

Lake Roosevelt is coming up and the Spokane Arm is changing, but there is still time to find walleye by casting crawdad-colored jigs into back eddies. Rocks covered with rising water pose a threat to safe navigation.

Smallmouth bass running 7-8 pounds have been caught at Dworshak Reservoir recently, and there have been a lot of 3-5 pounders also. Reel Time Fishing of Clarkston is offering combo bass and kokanee trips to take advantage of the hot bite of both. Info: (208) 790-2128.

Smallmouth bass are also hitting at Newman Lake, Long Lake and practically anywhere on the Snake River where there are rocks.

Although the trout bite has slowed, Coffeepot largemouth fishing has gained steam with some big fish reported. Long Lake anglers are also finding some very nice largemouth by plunking jigs around structure near shore.

Moses Lake walleye fishermen have complained of non-aggressive fish “just pecking at the worm,” but anglers that take lots of bait and stick with it are beginning to pick up good numbers of 15-20 inchers in shallow water. Slow Death rigs in shades of green and orange have been effective, and the north end has been better than the south.

The Spring Walleye Classic on Potholes Reservoir last weekend would indicate the bite there has improved. The winning team put over 50 pounds of walleye on the scale, with the best action in the Crab Creek area.

Walleye fishing continues to be excellent on the Columbia River’s John Day pool. Jigging and trolling worm harnesses has been the go-to method.

Anglers headed upstream from the Keller Bridge are experiencing good walleye fishing. Jigs tipped with nightcrawlers have been productive.

If you’ve got kids, don’t forget Bear Lake on Highway 2 before Riverside High School. Kids under 15 can fish there with a licensed adult who is also allowed to fish. There are lots of perch, sunfish and bullheads as well as trout and bass. The lake is also open for disabled adult anglers with a harvester companion card.

Eloika Lake crappie are still biting in shallow water on both the east and west sides. The biggest are around 10 inches. At Long Lake, the crappie are generally larger.

The weeds aren’t up yet on Lake Coeur d’Alene, but pike fishermen are finding fish in shallow water in the bays. The bait anglers are taking a monster now and then by hanging a herring under a bobber.

Other species

Channel cats are biting in the Palouse River and at the mouth. YJ Guide Service says they are having good luck in 2-3 feet of water using cut bait. Info: (509) 999-0717.

Halibut will be open on Sunday for one day in Marine Areas 2-10. Catch data will be evaluated following the opening to determine if enough quota remains for additional fishing days. The recreational halibut fishery remains open in Marine Area 1 (Ilwaco) Thursdays through Sundays at all depths, and Mondays through Wednesdays in the nearshore area.


Turkey hunters have just under two weeks left in the spring season. After May 31, unfilled tags will carry over to the fall season.

Contact Alan Liere at spokesmanliere @

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