Things are shaping up on the Spokane River for the final week of the season before closing March 15. Silver Bow says dropping levels and warmer temperatures are opening up more windows of opportunity. The Prince Nymph-style patterns and Pat’s Rubber Legs have been effective.
Salmon and steelhead
Spring chinook fishing on the Columbia River will be open March 16 through May 7 from the Tower Island power lines upriver to the Washington/Oregon border near Umatilla. The season will run 53 days, with an initial catch guideline of 900 upriver chinook. Bank fishing will also be allowed from the dam upriver to the power lines. In both areas, the daily catch limit will be one adult hatchery chinook salmon as part of a two-fish daily limit that can also include hatchery coho salmon and hatchery steelhead.
Fishing for steelhead is still open on the mainstem Columbia River from Buoy 10 at the mouth of the river upstream to the wooden powerline towers at the old Hanford townsite. The daily limit is two hatchery steelhead from Buoy 10 upstream to the Hwy. 395 Bridge at Pasco/Kennewick, and one hatchery steelhead upstream of the Hwy. 395 Bridge.
The Snake River is open from the mouth of the river (Burbank to Pasco railroad bridge) to the Washington/Oregon state line. With a few warm days, anglers could see fish moving into tributaries like the Walla Walla, Touchet, lower Grand Ronde River, and Tucannon, downstream of the Tucannon Hatchery Bridge.
Open water fishing
Bank fishermen at Lake Roosevelt are catching more trout than the trollers. One productive and fun way to fish for big rainbow is to anchor up in a bay at least 10 feet deep and cast lures or dunk worm and marshmallow “sandwiches.” Friends near Hansen Harbor had decent action this past weekend floating orange PowerBait off the bottom, but said the road conditions on the way in were “sketchy.”
Roosevelt walleye anglers are having trouble finding a steady bite, but those fishing Columbia’s Dalles Pool are catching fish despite low water temperatures. Slow jigging with dark colors tipped with nightcrawler has been best.
WDFW fish hatchery staff are stocking many year-round-open fisheries in southeast Washington, including Asotin County’s Golf Course and West Evans ponds; Columbia County’s Dam, Dayton and Orchard ponds; Walla Walla County’s Bennington Lake and Hood Park, Jefferson Park, Lions Park and Quarry ponds; and Franklin County’s Dalton Lake and Marmes Pond.
March is the last month to fish the region’s winter-only trout lakes – Hatch in Stevens County and Fourth of July in Lincoln County. Both still have ice, but of varying degrees of depth and safety. Anglers should use extreme caution. Waitts Lake is already closed.
Amber and Downs Lakes opened last week, but were still frozen over. However, Josh Brady at Downs Lake Resort feels confident the ice would be off by this week’s end. He indicated a fish drop of 5,000 rainbows would occur shortly thereafter.
Columbia County trout lakes – Deer, Watson, and Rainbow – also opened on March 1 on the Tucannon River. With the ice finally gone, The Last Resort owners Jason and Cheri Towery played host to anglers eager to hook catchable rainbows and jumbos, some reaching 20-plus inches. Fish responded best to PowerBait or Power Eggs, but Thomas Lures Buoyant spoons proved effective, too. Blue and Spring Lakes also belong to this unit, but remain open year-round. Curl Lake opens on May 15. For stocking reports and more, visit the website at thelastresortrv.com.
Parts of Sprague Lake still have ice, but that can change quickly – either way. Currently, it looks as if anglers will be able to get after big rainbow soon in open water from boat and shore.
Green and Little Green lakes near Omak switched to catch-and-release on March 1. Chelan District Fish Biologist Travis Maitland reports Chelan County’s Roses Lake is still partially ice-covered but has been producing catches of 11- to 13-inch rainbow trout.
Ice fishing Washington
March is the last month for the catch-and-keep fishing season as some Okanogan County lakes shift to catch-and-release April 1. Davis Lake near Winthrop is providing rainbows and kokanee through the ice. Rat Lake near Brewster produces fair catches of rainbow trout through March.
WDFW Okanogan District Fish Biologist Ryan Fortier says that with consistently cold overnight temperatures in mid-February, most Okanogan County lakes are at their peak ice depths. Ice fishing is good at year-round-open Leader Lake, near the town of Okanogan, with catches of 8- to 10-inch perch, occasional crappie and bluegill. Anglers also continue to do well on year-round-open Patterson Lake near Winthrop, with catches of perch and kokanee through the ice. The size of kokanee in Patterson continues to be the best in recent memory. Year-round-open Bonaparte Lake near Tonasket is productive for rainbows and kokanee, too. Palmer Lake near Loomis usually provides perch through the ice till April.
Ice fishing Idaho
The Maiden Rock access at the east end of Spirit Lake is where most are fishing for kokanee. Access it by Nautical Loop Rd. on the west side of Hwy 41. The parking area is up the hill from the ramp.
Deer and elk hunters have until March 31 to enter their names into the drawing for a 2018 multiple-season tag, which can greatly increase the opportunity for success in the field. WDFW will hold the drawing in mid-April, randomly selecting names for 8,500 multiple-season deer tags and 1,000 multiple-season elk tags. Winners of the drawing can purchase a special tag allowing them to participate in archery, muzzleloader, and modern firearm general hunting seasons for deer or elk in 2018. Winners who purchase the multiple season elk tag can participate in general elk hunting seasons in both eastern and western Washington. A multiple-season application can be purchased from authorized license dealers, online at fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov/, or by calling (866) 246-9453. The application costs $7.10 for residents and $110.50 for nonresidents.
Contact Matt Liere at email@example.com
Subscribe to The Spokesman-Review’s sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.