The next few days might be the peak of runoff for the North Fork Coeur d’Alene River. Prediction flows show it heading back down and it might be fishable on the weekend. The St. Joe is rising and won’t be fishable this week. Neither will the Clearwater.
Area lakes are the best bet for fly-fishermen this week. Amber Lake is a consistent producer and the damsel activity is close to taking off. Chironomids and balanced leeches are still producing some nice trout at Coffeepot, but a big streamer tossed against the bank will entice some of the big largemouth bass that are moving into the shallows.
Medical Lake is usually good in the evening. Silver Bow Fly Shop said to look for cruising fish that are picking bugs off the surface. Callibaetis, damsels and chironomids will bring strikes.
The Grande Ronde will probably blow out again this week, so smallmouth fishing will be impossible. When it settles down, remember the Ronde is open only from the mouth to the County Road Bridge (about 2.5 miles upstream).
Trout and kokanee
Badger Lake was good to angling friends this week trolling the unlikely combination of Wooly Buggers tipped with Power Bait. Most of the fish caught were cutthroat, but one rainbow was 19 inches long. There have been no kokanee reports so far, though they should start showing up, as this is their second year in the lake.
The bite is said to be fast at Clear Lake. Anglers say they are catching a lot more brown trout than they did last year, but the rainbow are still the most common. Spoons and spinner flies are working, but a worm off the bottom is hard to beat. Nearby West Medical Lake remains good from shore for large rainbow.
Rock Lake anglers dragging dark-colored flies with a WiggleFin Action Disc in the top 25 feet of water are having no trouble boating as many 11- to 12-inch rainbow as they want. Not many browns have shown lately.
Marshall Lake cutthroat are numerous and cooperative. The average size is about 10 inches. At Diamond Lake, anglers report a lot of “really large brown trout” as well as smaller rainbow.
Sprague Lake trout are scattered. Fishing reports range from dismal to fair for a mixture of rainbow and cutthroat, most 13-17 inches.
Anglers trolling Banks Lake along the shore across from Coulee City (The Wall) are catching rainbow up to 20 inches. Flies and flashers are effective.
Chelan Lake kokanee are running up to a solid 16 inches. Most trollers also take a cutthroat or two, and small chinook salmon seem to be more common this year.
Lake Coeur d’Alene trollers are beginning to reel in kokanee that are said to be bigger than the 8- to 9-inch fish caught last year. The kokes are high in the water column. Loon Lake kokanee fishermen found fishing a little slower this week than last, but they still found good numbers of 10-inch fish up high.
Priest Lake has been good for mackinaw running mostly around 3 pounds. Anglers are both trolling and drop-shotting.
Steelhead and salmon
Passage of spring chinook salmon at Bonneville Dam was at just 996 fish as of April 25. That is the lowest number of fish passing the dam on that date, but the passage number rose quickly to 10,570 fish by last Thursday. That’s still nearly seven times lower than the 10-year average of 72,274 on that date, but twice last year’s passage of 5,192 fish.
The Columbia Gorge has been consistent for spring chinook salmon with lots of action and a few limits. Successful guides are trolling flashers with Super Baits or big Flatfish. They say trolling speed is the most important with the best bite at 1.4 mph.
Long Lake anglers are having a good spring, catching an assortment of nice-size crappie and perch as well as smallmouth bass, an occasional northern pike and a few largemouth. Hayden Lake crappie are larger and just as numerous, but legal-size fish are about one in eight and the limit is six.
Curlew Lake is a good place to load up on 10-inch perch. The Eloika Lake bite is also on, but the perch are much smaller. Crappie are on the menu, but you’ll catch many before you catch a 9-inch keeper. The limit is 10.
A friend fished Moses Lake this week and did well on walleye while fishing the south end. He was trolling a worm harness and said most of the fish were less than 16 inches with a couple just more than 20 inches. The walleyes are in 6-12 feet of water. Expect to catch a few smallmouth, between 12 and 19 inches with most around 13. The smallmouth fishing has been good on both ends of the lake.
If the number of boats on the water this week was any indication, Lind Coulee on Potholes Reservoir must be hot for walleye fishing. The big reservoir is also booting out some nice smallmouth.
The next three weeks will be prime for big Dworshak Reservoir smallmouth as the water and water temperatures are on the rise. To book a guided trip, contact Travis Wendt at (208) 790-4113.
The Hells Canyon stretch of the Snake River is loaded with nice smallmouth. A typical fishing trip will also produce channel cats and maybe even a sturgeon. For a guided fishing and sightseeing trip, contact Snake Dancer Excursions at 1-800-234-1941.
May 1 marked the beginning of the 2018 Northern Pikeminnow Sport Reward Fishery Program in the Columbia and Snake rivers, which pays registered anglers $5 to $8 per fish, 9 inches or longer. The more fish an angler catches, the more each is worth. To sweeten the deal, state fish and wildlife biologists have tagged and released up to 1,000 northern pikeminnow into the Columbia and Snake rivers that are each worth $500. Northern pikeminnow experts say the best place to fish early in the season may be near The Dalles, Oregon.
Sponsored by the Inland Empire chapter of Safari Club, Troy West of the Western Bear Foundation and taxidermist Sean West of Captured Expressions Taxidermy in Post Falls will hold a symposium May 18 at 6 p.m. Covered will be bear-hunting tactics as well as field preparation for getting a trophy ready for mounting. Location: 1036 N. Innovation Way, Post Falls 83854. Space is limited. RSVP Sean West at (208) 659-6982.
Contact Alan Liere at firstname.lastname@example.org