Silver Bow Fly Shop said a few steelhead are being caught on the Clearwater, Snake and Grande Ronde system. Swinging intruders, reverse marabou styles, egg sucking loop leeches on T-10 or T-14 tips have done best. Nymphing with a stone and a bead combo is also productive. There has been a little bump in the flows on all the rivers lately but nothing major.
Glowing reports (some of them mine) regarding perch fishing at Curlew Lake last week caused a good friend to make the 2- 1/2 hour drive from Spokane on Monday. Unfortunately, the fishing was terrible. After 7 hours and about 50 holes, he drove home with two small perch and a 14-inch rainbow. He noted that the anglers he talked with weren’t doing much better, some blaming the full moon, some the bright day. On a more positive note, a good perch report has come in this week, but it seems to be a matter of luck if you hit the right day, The ice at Curlew is a solid 7 inches. With temperatures at night well below freezing, it should stay safe for quite a while. The south side of the lake all around the island at the state park is seeing the most activity.
Although Spokane County’s Silver Lake was frozen clear across one day recently, everything but the bay at the launch was ice-free early this week and there was open water on much of the lake.
I visited Bear Lake last weekend, intending to try the ice fishing, but I just couldn’t garner enough courage to get more than a few feet off the dock. The ice there appeared to be solid at 4 inches, but the water was only 3 feet deep. There was open water in the middle and dark spots. Bear is open for junior anglers, senior anglers and anglers with a disability who possess a designated harvester companion card. As it hasn’t been fished this winter, it could be good for spiny ray and trout if cold weather firms up the ice.
Near Bear Lake, Eloika Lake is beginning to see a few anglers on the north end. They are catching the usual variety of species including perch, crappie, sunfish, largemouth bass and chain pickerel.
Jump-Off Joe Lake has attracted a few ice fishermen, but I have not heard a positive report. I have caught some nice perch at Joe in the summer, so it may just be a matter of drilling enough holes to locate the schools.
Hatch Lake trout fishing slowed some this week after a torrid bite the week before. The ice is good and there have been a lot of anglers trying their luck for the 14-inch rainbow.
Leader Lake in the Okanogan has a nice assortment of spiny ray, but perch and bluegill are the predominant species caught in winter. The ice is about 7 inches thick and the fish are holding in around 10 feet of water.
In Idaho, there have been anglers on the ice at Fernan Lake fishing under the power lines near the west end. Gamble Lake has a solid 5 inches of ice. Ice fishermen there are catching perch up to 11 inches and small bass by jigging a Swedish Pimple and maggot in 20 feet if water. The Swedish Pimple with a green insert and maggot has been one of my most consistent producers of winter perch.
Also in Idaho, Avondale anglers are finding up to 7 inches of ice, but there is much less than that near shore.
Perch and sunfish are the most commonly caught fish, but the little lake also has trout.
Salmon and steelhead
Clearwater River steelhead fishing is going strongly with many days seeing great catches of big fish. The river has risen some and taken on a little color, but those conditions usually benefit the catching.
The Clearwater Chapter of Idaho River Community Alliance is holding a steelhead derby on the Clearwater River on Feb. 16. There will be first-, second- and third-place noncash prizes for heaviest hatchery fish caught and kept. A barbecue and awards will be at the Pink House Recreation Site at Orofino after the derby ends.
Trout and kokanee
After some gloomy fishing reports from Lake Roosevelt last week, the trout fishing has picked up. Green flies and perch Rapalas have accounted for some nice catches near Hunters, some fish going over 20 inches.
The Rock Lake parking area was full of trucks and trailers on Monday. The anglers I talked with said fishing had been good for some big browns and smaller rainbow. Rapalas trolled or cast along the shoreline had been effective.
Anglers trolling for mackinaw on Lake Chelan are also catching a few chinook up to 24 inches. A popular spot is in deep water in the middle of the lake out from the state park.
Hayden Lake kokanee fishermen are trolling up some nice catches of beautiful 14-inch fish.
Lake Roosevelt is giving up walleye near Hunters for anglers trolling bottom bouncers.
Columbia River Walleye expert and Reel Time guide Jack Apperson put a lot of walleye in the boat the past couple of weeks. Although he is getting a lot of “eaters,” he has also netted several trophy-sized fish, one a 44- 1/2 inch fish that weighed 15.5 pounds. Info: Toby Wyatt, 208-790-2128.
At the request of Olympic National Park and due to the federal shutdown, the WDFW rescinded three razor clam digs at Kalaloch beach that were set to occur last Saturday through Monday. WDFW and the park will consider alternate days to make up for this loss of harvest opportunity.
Banks Lake whitefish are attracting a lot of attention from boat anglers, but there are also a few nice rainbow being caught from shore. The whitefish are the lake variety, weighing up to 6 pounds.
Lake Roosevelt anglers are still finding burbot up the Spokane Arm, most while jigging for walleye.
After hanging up my shotgun last week, thinking I was done for the upland season, I took it off the hooks and went pheasant hunting two more times – last Saturday and Monday. I drew a blank on Sunday, a wet and gloomy day, but ended the year in bright sunshine on Monday with a couple of nice points and two roosters collected.
Washington waterfowl are open through Sunday. The best hunting will probably be on the Columbia River. A friend hunting the Cathlamet area last weekend had great shooting on bluebills.
Contact Alan Liere at spokesmanliere@ yahoo.com
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