Silver bow Fly Shop says they are still finding trout on the Spokane River despite the challenging high flows. Many areas are brushy or too fast, but there are still bays, back eddies or areas where the river is fishable. The best tactic will be streamer fishing and stripping flies through eddies and soft water.
The North Fork Coeur d’Alene River is fishable on the lower half. Use streamers and nymphs on the slow pools, inside bends or eddies and keep them close to the bottom. Afternoons are best. Streamers are even taking a few cutthroat on the St. Joe River, but snow and ice berms along the river make launching a boat impossible.
The Grande Ronde is running high and fly fishing would be difficult. It will probably remain so for quite a while.
Rocky Ford is always a good bet, but be prepared to change your pattern after a couple fish. Scuds, midge pupa, small pheasant tails and similar patterns are usually good, but streamers will work too.
Steelhead and salmon
The daily limit for hatchery chinook salmon increased to two hatchery chinook in Marine Area 10 (Seattle/Bremerton) on Jan. 13.
The Clearwater and Snake River are high right now and fishing success for steelhead has dropped.
Open water fishing
Lake Roosevelt has been fairly reliable this winter with decent trout reports coming recently from around Sterling Point, the Goat Farm and Hawk Creek. A variety of lures are being trolled with success 10 to 25 feet down. The launches have been good. The fish are hanging close to shore, around inlets and points.
Lake Chelan has seen some great kokanee days recently, but the fish are spread out. The majority of fish are 11-12 inches. The best action is right out of the State Park, sometimes up lake towards Watsons Resort, or down lake toward Monument Bay.
The ramp at Coulee Playland on Banks Lake has thawed and anglers are fishing with blade baits in shallow water for walleye around the net pen near the resort. Walleye are also being caught in 40 feet of water at the north end at Banks.
Trout anglers are getting fish near the upper net pens on Rufus Woods Reservoir, and many are fishing the stretch just below the dam with good success.
Conditions are perfect on the Columbia River for sturgeon fishing and a lot of fish have been taken recently by guide boats between The Dalles and McNary – including some between 43-54 inches. Info: Munden’s Rising Son Adventures (509) 492-8852.
Ice fishing Washington
Like almost every other lake in Washington or Idaho, Eloika Lake is a sloppy mess. There is good ice below the slush but rubber boots are recommended. The bite at Eloika is the same as it is every winter – lights out some days and nothing on others. There are a lot of small bass being caught. Further north, ice fishermen are also finding perch just out from Waitts Lake Resort.
Patterson Lake in the Okanogan area is producing catches of perch, but they are small this year. The kokanee are 11-12 inches, and anglers are taking limits.
You’ll need a four-wheel drive to get into Leader Lake in the Okanogan, but those who fish there say the perch bite is good and they are also catching some rainbow. There is slush on the ice, but the ice is firm, and in shady spots, the footing is good. The fish are in 12 to 20 feet of water.
Also in the Okanogan, Green Lake rainbow fishing is good. Patterson Lake has good ice. It also has a lot of small perch and some good-sized kokanee. The kokes have been shallow in the morning, moving out to depths of 50 feet in the afternoon. The fish move in schools and do a lot of traveling. If you wait a half hour or so, the school will generally return, but most anglers prefer to move around and try to intercept them.
Two friends and I found Curlew Lake perch are not always a sure thing in the winter. Fishing there on Monday we had a decent bite for three hours and then the lake went dead. Still, we took home about 60 9- to 10-inch fish and gave 15 or so to people fishing near us who did everything we did but were evidently out of the sweet spot. Small Swedish Pimples or white Glo Hooks did the best, tipped with either a perch eyeball or several maggots. The fish were at 32 feet straight out from the dock at the State Park. Good ice was about 8 inches thick, but it was covered with so much slush our feet were in water the whole morning.
Ice fishing Idaho
Avondale ice was about 6 inches thick last weekend, but there is open water around the edges. You’ll want boots to get from shore onto solid ice, a condition that usually doesn’t show up until late February. The lake has a variety of spiny ray as well as stocked rainbows, but the bite has been slow this week.
The ice on Fernan Lake is about 6 inches. Perch of 7 to 9 inches make up the majority of the catch. Round Lake has good ice. It has a variety of spiny ray but fishing has been slow. Mirror Lake ice is about 6 inches. There are kokanee and trout but the bite has been slow there, too.
Spirit Lake seems to be holding up. Anglers there are catching small kokanee and a few undersized chinook. All chinook under 20 inches must be released.
Idaho shotgunners should take note of extended seasons for white-fronted geese and snow geese, which last into March in some regions. You can see details in the waterfowl rules booklet.
Contact Alan Liere at firstname.lastname@example.org