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Sunday, March 24, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Partly Cloudy Night 38° Partly Cloudy
Sports >  Outdoors

Alan Liere’s fishing-hunting report for May 24

Alan Liere

Fly fishing

Silver Bow Fly Shop said the North Fork Coeur d’Alene River has fished well recently with a multitude of hatches and a dropping river. Dries and nymphs are the ticket.

Local lakes are also fishing well. Trout are cruising just below the surface chasing nymphs. For a change of pace, try any of the warmwater lakes in Washington and Idaho for panfish and bass. For a real thrill, try throwing a Clouser Minnow into smallmouth water.

Trout and kokanee

Loon Lake kokanee are still hitting in the upper 28 feet for trollers. Most are in the 10-inch range, but there are a few closing in on 12. Trolling has been good immediately out of the launch and around the point toward the island, and the Shore Acres end has also been productive.

During spring thunderstorms, barometric pressure changes negatively affect the fishing and it usually takes the fish 24 hours to get back to feeding. That said, fishing at Williams Lake has been slow for rainbow, although an occasional fish up to 8 pounds is taken. A lot of West Medical carryovers have been visible in angler catches, but there don’t seem to be many 10- to 11-inch catchables. A lot of the fish are 2-3 pounds.

Badger and Clear are providing fair to good trout fishing, but there are still no kokanee reports from Badger. Waitts Lake remains consistent for catches of browns and rainbow. Fishing for Long Lake rainbow running 14-16 inches has been excellent in the vicinity of Long Lake Dam.

Lake Chelan kokanee are still somewhat dispersed, but they should be schooling up and becoming more accessible soon. Cutthroat are still hitting. Upper Conconully Lake kokanee have begun to bite, and anglers are taking fish consistently more than 16 inches.

Curlew Lake rainbow trout are smaller this year than last, with most fish less than a foot in length. Some of the larger fish – up to 3 1/2 pounds – are being taken with Power Bait off resort docks and at the state park. Trollers have had good luck with Flatfish and Wedding Rings.

Potholes rainbow are great fighters, clearing the water often when hooked. While lures and plugs will take them, many have been caught on walleye gear.

Coeur d’Alene kokanee are running 10-11 inches. The fishing has been good on the south end.

Steelhead and salmon

Despite continued high flows over Bonneville Dam, counts of chinook salmon picked up over the last week, and many of these fish are bound for Idaho. The spring run is definitely late. If the timing of this run follows what occurred last year (which had the latest timing of any run since monitoring began), the run past Bonneville Dam is only about 60 percent complete. This is good news for anglers hoping to put some salmon fillets in the freezer.

Angling for hatchery steelhead began May 15 on the Columbia River from the I-5 Interstate Bridge between Portland and Vancouver downstream to Buoy 10, just west of Astoria. All salmon and steelhead angling is closed from the I-5 Bridge to the Oregon and Washington border. The summer steelhead run into the Columbia River is predicted to be 190,350 fish. The 2017 predicted run was 130,700, although the actual run totaled 116,841.

Spiny ray

A friend fished Liberty last weekend for just a couple of hours before the rain chased him off. He said in that short time he and a buddy caught six bass between 1 1/2 and 2 pounds as well as a few crappie and lots of sunfish. Liberty has been generally poor for trout, but anglers who target channel cats are catching fish, mostly around 2 pounds.

John Petrofski and his son Matt fished Silver Lake recently and found “thousands of bluegill all along the shallows.” They caught some of those but were after bass, eventually netting a 2-pounder and a 4 1/2-pounder. Petrofski said the best part of the day was watching a tiger muskie follow Matt’s little Rapala to the boat. The duo also fished Sprague Lake, catching a few bass. They said the water was high.

Potholes Reservoir walleye are again cooperating for anglers dragging Slow Death rigs in the dunes between Frenchman and Winchester wasteways in water around 15 feet deep. Fish have averaged about 18 inches. A good bite is also going on in the Lind Coulee, but the walleye are smaller. Largemouth bass fishermen are also doing well on Potholes. A lot of big fish were weighed in at last weekend’s tournament. Crappie have again taken up residence under the MarDon Resort docks.

Lake Roosevelt walleye anglers dropping jigs into relatively shallow water just above Porcupine Bay in the Spokane Arm have caught a lot of walleye at times. A friend who went out twice last week had good luck one time and no luck at all the second time. He said the popular spots near Buoy 3 “were jammed with boats.” Three other friends who fished up the Spokane Arm for smallmouth on Monday said they caught more than 50 fish, including one more than 18 inches and one more than 20. They were throwing tube jigs against the shoreline.

At Banks Lake, walleye fishing has been slow. Some anglers are convinced the bite will never pick up this year because so many fish were taken last year. If it doesn’t improve by the first week in June, it could be a long summer for Banks Lake walleye enthusiasts.

Coeur d’Alene northern pike lurking in shallow weed beds are ambushing spoons with plastic trailers at a good clip, according to Mark Mills of Spokane Valley. At Twin Lakes in Idaho, the pike are also in shallow water near shore and fishing has been good.

It’s at least a 6-hour drive from Spokane, but Brownlee Reservoir on the Snake River dividing Idaho and Oregon is a superb crappie, smallmouth and channel cat fishery. Friends and I fished there last weekend, keeping about 70 crappie between 11-13 inches and releasing dozens of hard-fighting smallmouth, many of which were around 15 inches. The smallmouth were in tight to the bank and the crappie were mostly suspended at about 12 feet over deeper water close to shore. Small curlytail jigs were good for both.

Other species

The recreational halibut fishery in the nearshore area of Marine Area 1 (Ilwaco) will be open seven days per week effective today. The all-depth fishery in Marine Area 1 remains closed.


Idaho’s first Super Hunt entry deadline is May 31. With every entry, hunters get a chance at winning the hunt of a lifetime, and their entry fee helps support hunter and angler access to and across private lands. The first drawing will be for eight elk, eight deer, eight pronghorn and one moose hunt. One Super Hunt Combo entry also will be drawn that will entitle the winner to hunt for all four species.

Contact Alan Liere at

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