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Monday, February 18, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Partly Cloudy Day 11° Partly Cloudy
Sports >  Outdoors

Matt Liere’s fishing-hunting report for May 31


The lower Spokane River will reopen Friday and the upper river will reopen Saturday, but the conditions will make fishing tough. It will take a week or more for water to reach fishable levels.

The St. Joe River’s water levels are predicted to fall to fishable levels this week, providing new options for trout. Should this occur, Silver Bow Fly Shop suggests stripping streamers or using brown drake and salmonflies to get your outing started.

Coeur d’Alene’s North Fork is reportedly picking up, with decent fishing complementing the warming weather and prime water conditions. Salmonfies and a variety of others, including brown drakes and PMDs, are still hatching out, offering plenty for curious and hungry trout. Dry dropper combos have been working well, and a double nymph rig will entice stubborn fish when the action slows.

Trout and kokanee

The cool nights are responsible for the lack of anglers jigging for kokanee on Loon Lake. While trolling has been good, only a few boats have ventured out after dark. If you do make the nighttime trip, start fishing the popular spots around Granite Point first, beginning in 28-30 feet of water, adjusting if the action is negligible. Glow hooks in green or pink, tipped with maggots, are a sure bet if fish are present.

Clear Lake trollers have been dodging water skiers but doing quite well on planted rainbow and a few browns. Most of the fish have been around 11 inches.

Trolling for lake trout on Chelan early in the morning has been good at Colyar Ledge. The kokanee fishing has picked up substantially between Chelan Shores and Lakeside.

Steelhead and salmon

The sport fishery for spring chinook salmon reopened Friday on the Columbia River, from the Rocky Point/Tongue Point line upriver to the Washington/Oregon border near Umatilla. WDFW Columbia fishery manager Ryan Lothrop said they’ve “been monitoring fish passage at Bonneville very closely, because we didn’t want to reopen the fishery without a better idea of the actual run size. We now know that run was both late and smaller than expected, but it’s still strong enough to support reopening the fishery.”

While daily counts of chinook coming over the dam have since fallen from last week’s high, the fishery is scheduled to run through Wednesday below Bonneville Dam and June 15 above, but could close sooner depending on harvest quotas or a downgraded run size. All wild fish must be released. For more information, see the Fishing Rule change at efishrules/erule.jsp?id=2138.

Additional updates to the Sport Fishing Rules for Columbia River salmon and steelhead seasons were published Tuesday. Until the new 2018-19 Washington Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet is released in mid-June, refer to fishregs.htm, or call the toll free WDFW hotline at (866) 880-5431 for the most up-to-date information.

Spiny ray

Panfish species such as perch, crappie and bluegill are relatively short-lived and fast-growing, which makes them ideal to support harvest-oriented fisheries. Right now, they are active and providing a lot of fun and some good eating for anglers using the most basic tackle. It’s the best kind of fishery for kids. A few popular waters in Idaho are Cocolalla, Fernan, Hauser, Hayden, Robinson, Rose and Twin. In Washington, try Eloika, Loon, Deer, Liberty, Curlew, Silver or Newman.

Roses Lake in Chelan County is said to be yielding big catches of bluegill and crappie. The bluegills are 8 to 9 inches and the crappie are 11-13. A curlytail jig under a bobber will bring nonstop action. Newman Lake in Spokane County is rumored to be putting out crappie up to 15 inches.

Big pike above 30 inches are hammering spoons and soft plastics in Lake Coeur d’Alene, responding well to sight casting when bunched in groups. Search the shallows and weed bed edges for the best action.

Moses Lake has given up decent-size walleye lately. Trollers pulling orange Wally Pops or crank baits found fish all over the southern side of the lake, varying speeds between 1.4 and 2.2 mph, depending on time of day.

Lake Roosevelt walleye fishing has been good for several anglers bouncing various-colored jigs off the bottom near Hunters, with limits taken from 20-40 feet of water.

Eager anglers hoping to try their luck near Northport on Lake Roosevelt might want to re-evaluate their plans. The water is abnormally high and off-color, with less than 1 foot of visibility. As of Sunday, the walkway to the Northport boat ramp was completely underwater and the dock was floating alone. A boat could still possibly be launched in the area, but you’d likely do just as well fishing from the submerged trees on the banks.

Fishermen had phenomenal success this past weekend on 3- to 4-pound largemouths in the Crab Creek Arm of Potholes Reservoir. Plastics, such as lizards, frogs or Senko worms wacky-rigged, were most productive near the bank edges and drop-offs. Ideal weather temperatures and water clarity only upped the enjoyment factor.

Other species

A harvest fishery for white sturgeon in Lake Roosevelt between Grand Coulee Dam and the China Bend Boat Ramp (including the Spokane River from the Highway 25 bridge upstream to 400 feet below Little Falls Dam, the Colville River upstream to Meyers Falls and the Kettle River upstream to Barstow Bridge) begins June 15. It will be open seven days a week.

Palouse River channel cats are still biting, but the fish are more spread out than they were two weeks ago. Walleye are often included in a day’s bag.


Today is the last day until the fall season to hunt turkeys in Washington. The Idaho season ended Friday.

Idaho hunters have until midnight on June 5 to apply for 2018’s deer, pronghorn, black bear, elk and turkey controlled hunts this fall. Go to for more information.

Contact Matt Liere at

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