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Free fishing events Saturday at north Idaho ponds

FISHING — Saturday, June 14, is free fishing day in Idaho – no license required – and the state is boosting the attraction by offering fishing events geared to kids and novices.

All other rules and catch limits apply on Saturday, but anyone, including nonresidents, can go fishing without purchasing a license.

 Volunteers will be helping people with equipment at the following locations from 9 a.m.-noon, except in Coeur d’Alene.

  • Bonners Ferry, Snow Creek Pond.
  • Calder, Calder Pond.
  • Coeur d'Alene, Ponderosa Springs Golf Course (7 a.m.-11 a.m.).
  • Enaville, Steamboat Ponds.
  • Harrison, Harrison Marina.
  • Mullan, Lucky Friday Pond.
  • Post Falls, Post Falls Park Pond.
  • Priest Lake, Priest Lake Golf Course.
  • Rathdrum, City Park.
  • Sandpoint, Round Lake State Park.
  • Moscow, Spring Valley Reservoir.

Free fishing event for kids at Post Falls

FISHING — A "Just for Kids Fishing Derby" for kids ages 5-14 is set for 10 a.m.-1 p.m. on June 14 at Falls Park, 305 W. 4th Ave. in Post Falls. 

Awards will be given for fun competitions. Participants should bring their own fishing rod and gear, although a limited amount of fishing gear will bee available for check out.

The fishing pond at Falls Park is dedicated for youth and handicapped individuals and stocked with small game fish by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

Children must be accompanied by an adult. 

This is a free event, but pre-registration is encouraged. Call Post Falls Parks & Recreation Department.  (208) 773-0539.

On-site Registration will be open 9 a.m.-10 a.m.

  • NOTE: June 14 is Free Fishing Day in Idaho. No license is required for youths or adults, residents or nonresidents, to fish in most lake and streams. All other regulations apply.

Women’s Fly fishing clinic set at private stocked pond

FISHING — Spokane members of Trout Unlimited are organizing a women-only fly fishing clinic at a private lake stocked with trout on June 21.

The all-day event is geared to beginners, complete with materials, but ladies and girls who have experience and simply want to sharpen their fish-catching skills are welcome, said co-organizer Hilary Hart.

The $50 fee includes meals and “after party,” said Hart, who noted that some scholarships are available.

Info: (509) 532-0522.

Register online.


Free fishing days coming up; no license required

FISHING – Washington and Idaho are among the many states offering free fishing – no fishing license required – on designated days in June.

  • Washington will allow anglers to fish without a license Saturday and Sunday, June 7-8.
  • Idaho has a single Free Fishing Day set for Saturday, June 14th.

Other requirements waived at Washington fishing waters and access sites include the  Discover PassColumbia River salmon/steelhead endorsement, and  two-pole endorsement.

All other rules apply.

  • Montana offers Free Fishing on Father’s Day weekend, June 14-15.

A Just for Kids Fishing Derby for kids ages 5-14 is set for 10 a.m.-1 p.m. on June 14 at Falls Park, 305 W. 4th Ave. in Post Falls.

Awards will be given for fun competitions. Participants should bring their own fishing rod and gear, although a limited amount of fishing gear will bee available for check out.

The fishing pond at Falls Park is dedicated for youth and handicapped individuals and stocked with small game fish by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

Children must be accompanied by an adult.

This is a free event, but pre-registration is encouraged. Call Post Falls Parks & Recreation Department.  (208) 773-0539.

On-site Registration will be open 9 a.m.-10 a.m.

Enter contest for week of Los Cabos tuna fishing

FISHING —  Anglers who long for a reel-screaming tug on their lines should take a minute to put their names in the hat of a contest for  $7,500 expense-paid slots on a team in the Western Outdoor News Los Cabos 2014 Tuna Jackpot.

Of course, if you win, I'm available. The trip is for two!

Read on for details and links for entry form.

Washington’s new fishing regulation pamphlet published

FISHING — Washington's new 2014-15 fishing regulations pamphlet, with rules that go into effect on Thursday, May 1, is available at license dealers and online.

While this isn't a major year for fishing rule changes, be sure to check the regs for seasons and rules for each water and species you intend to fish.  Many waters have size and gear restrictions that may not apply to other waters.

For most people, a 2014-15 fishing license is required before they can wet a line. The licenses are good through March 31, 2015. The exception is young people under age 15, who can fish for free.

Licenses and permits are available online and from sporting goods stores and other retail license dealers around the state.

See a list of license vendors.

Loon Lake provides worthy opening day alternative

FISHING — A few — very few — area anglers bucked the trend to fish the popular Washington put-and-take trout lakes on last weekend's lowland lake opener. They were pleased with the results at Loon Lake north of Spokane, which is known for lake trout and especially for kokanee in the summer.

But Loon also holds rainbow trout, as John Petrofski points out in this message:

Three of us went to Loon, fishing the north end of the lake. No more than 10 trailers in the parking lot. It seemed we were all trolling in the same spot.

We had 3 fellows trolling 3 different color little hot shots with 1/8 oz. keel weights (we were not fishing deep). We had 4 outta 5 fish limits by 9:30 a.m.  We threw fish back till 10:15 (barbless hooks from Amber Lake fishing) and were done by 10:30.

New fisherman, Igor, got a 4 1/2 lb., 22” rainbow.

Most others were 18+.

 It was a fine, uncrowded day, little overcast. The flask of Jamesons helped with the 34 degree chill. 


Opening day angler makes play out of bait fishing

FISHING — Play-Doh or Powerbait?

I always learn something by making rounds on the opening day of Washington lowland lake fishing seasons, and Saturday was no exception.

Two mature women were fishing from the dock at Fishtrap Lake Resort, as they have many times, working on getting their limits of trout.

One lady was using the gold standard for bait: a mini-marshmallow and a piece of nightrawler.  She caught the first rainbow. The marshmallow floated the worm off the aquatic vegetation from the slip sinker to present the bait to the bottom-cruising fish. 

Many other anglers on the dock were using Powerbait, a clay-like scented, floating bait they would form around the hook. This rig also was being fished successfully off the bottom from a slip sinker. 

But the other woman was the innovator.  "Play-Doh," she said, answering my question. "It floats and it's cheaper than Powerbait."

She was getting nibbles, so it's hard to argue with her experiment.

"It comes off the hook easier than Powerbait," the other lady observed.

"But if the fishing's no good, you can play with the kids," another angler said.

My advice:  Stick with nightcrawlers and marshmallows. The trout love them and what kid isn't fascinated by checking out nightcrawlers while munching on the occasional marshmallow?

Results from opening day fishing lakes

FISHING — A mixed bag of weather couldn't keep anglers from reaping a fine harvest of trout Saturday and Sunday during the opening weekend of Washington's lowland lake fishing season.

Check out these results from Washington Fish and Wildlife Department creel checks for a hint at the fishing success and the average number of trout caught per angler on Saturday.

Ferry County: Ellen, 12 anglers with 50 trout for 4.2 fish kept per rod.

Grant County:  Warden, 91 anglers with 383 trout for 4.2 fish kept per rod; Blue, 74 with 234 for 3.2; Park, 108 with 285 for 2.6; and Deep, 62 with 200 for 3.2.

Lincoln County: Fishtrap, 21 with 92 for 4.4

Okanogan County: Alta, 99 anglers with 214 trout for 2.1 fish kept per rod; Pearrygin, 36 with 107 for 2.9; Conconully Lake, 59 with 201 for 3.4; Conconully Reservoir, 36 with 109 for 3.0; and Fish, 49 with 90 for 1.8.

Pend Oreille County: Big Meadow, seven with 18 for 2.6; and Diamond, 10 with 56 for 5.0.

Stevens County: Cedar, 11 with 35 for 3.2; Mudgett, 57 with 129 for 2.3; Rocky, 21 with 88 for 4.2; Starvation, 21 with 84 for 4.0; Waitts, 56 with 158 for 2.8; and Deep, three with 15 for 5.0.

Spokane County: Badger, 42 with 51 for 1.2; Clear, 29 with 49 for 1.7; Fish, 52 with 137 for 2.6; Williams, 48 with 172 for 3.6; and West Medical, 58 with 182 for 3.1.

Fishing or trophy girlfriend? Is this really a tough choice?

FISHING — Fishing seasons are full-on. Time to set your priorities.

Weather can’t chill opening day fishing success

FISHING — Anglers got a chilly start to the lowland lakes fishing season today, but in the end, it was thousands of fish that were hooked, landed and iced.

Five-fish daily limits were common among anglers who dressed warmly enough to endure temperatures  that were in the low 40s to start the day and remained cool with blustery winds.

"Our campground is full of gentlemen anglers this year," said Mike Barber at Fishtrap Lake Resort.  He was looking out at docks that were uncharacteristically empty at 7:30 a.m.  But by 8, people were streaming away from campers and campfires with their fishing rods to start the harvest.

Washington Fish and Wildlife Department creel checks found the top lakes producing hookups today in the Spokane area were  Fish, Williams. Fishtrap and West Medical lakes. 

Incidentally, Fish Lake off the Cheney-Spokane Road tends to attract more fly fishers who do more catch-and-release fishing than at most other put-and-take hatchery-stocked trout lakes. Some anglers reported catching and releasing a lot of fish, mostly nice rainbows averaging 12-14 inches.  The brook trout were in the 10-inch range, not nearly as large as the Fish Lake brookies that pleased anglers last year.

In Northeastern Washington, the top lakes were  Diamond, Rocky, Waitts, Deep and Ellen.

But the number of fish bagged or released doesn't tell the entire story.  For example, Mudgett Lake in Stevens county gave up 2.3 fish per angler but the average size was 14 inches — very nice fish. 

By the way: The largest fish caught at Clear Lake, a 21-inch rainbow, was reeled in by a 4-year-old girl.

Opening day a timeless sport for fishing families

FISHING — Families who put a priority on getting their kids outdoors are a highlight that has kept me enthused about covering opening day for 35 years. 

Washington Fly Fishing Fair in Ellensburg

FISHING – The annual Washington Fly Fishing Fair is expanding in 2014 far beyond a fly-tying gathering to a two-day event packed with casting workshops, a nine-hole casting course and a slate of more than a dozen seminars. The programs cover fishing tactics for waters from Western Washington to the Smith River in Montana and everything in between.

The fair, sponsored by the Federation of Fly Fishers Washington State Council, is May 3-4 at the Kittitas Valley Event Center in Ellensburg.

Info: (425) 308-6161.

Anglers: Rainy morning prime for hunting nightcrawlers

FISHING — Get your lard outta bed! Fishing season opens Saturday, but this morning is a prime opportunity to stock up on nightcrawlers. Rain has forced them out of the ground and onto the street where they're easy pickin's.  

Robins are on the prowl, but many of these choice bait morsels will be victims to car tires if you don't salvage them first.

I actually rescued a few and put them in my garden plot.  It was like draft day for tomato soil conditioners.

Accessible fishing pier built at Steamboat Rock State Park

FISHING — A new ADA-accessible fishing pier has been installed at Steamboat Rock State Park near Electric City.

The dedication ceremony is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Monday, April 28, at the boat launch on Banks Lake, the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission says.

The 12-year project was spearheaded by Rotary Club of Grand Coulee Dam working with State Parks and a number of other organizations. 

The new pier provides fishing access to people with disabilities, and representatives from the area organizations say it is the first such accessible pier in North Central Washington. The $60,000 project received grant support from Rotary District 5060; the Columbia Basin Foundation of Ephrata; the Grand Coulee Lions Club; the Trivent Financial for Lutherans Foundation; and individual donations.

The community also raised money for the project through Rotary Club spaghetti feeds and additionally donated time and materials worth $13,000 to build the concrete base-anchor for the pier.

Steamboat Rock State Park is a 3,522-acre camping park with 50,000 feet of freshwater shoreline on Banks Lake. The park is popular for lakeside camping, hiking, fishing, swimming and other water activities. The park’s sweeping green lawns are protected from winds by the poplar trees, in a surrounding landscape that includes basaltic rock and the gray-green brush of the channeled scablands.

A Washington Discover Pass is required for vehicles accessing the park.

Cast master Rajeff, films featured at Sandpoint fly fishing festival

FISHING — Fly casting champion Tim Rajeff is coming to North Idaho this weekend and he’s only part of the celebrity action during the two-day Sandpoint Fly Fishing Film Festival.

The event features the eight films edited into the Fly Fishing Film Tour (F3T) to be shown at the Panida Theater on Friday night followed by the four films in the Internatonal Fly Fishing Film Festival (IF4) on Saturday night.

Doors open both nights at 6 followed by the films at 7. Tickets are $12 in advance at Big R or Eichardt’s in Sandpoint or $15 at the door.

“We have tons of prizes, including guided steelheading trips and fishing trips on the Kootenai, Missouri and Bitterroot rivers,” said Calvin Fuller of Big R Fly Shop in Ponderay.

“It was a lot of fun to have both film festivals last year, so we’re doing it again.”

On Saturday, Rajeff, an expert affiliated with fly rod and line companies, will help anglers with casting demos 11 a.m.-2 p.m. at a 40-foot by 100-foot casting pool in the Big R parking lot.

A casting competition for distance and accuracy with prizes is set for all levels of casters at 2 p.m.

Info: 208-610-4151, panhandletu.org.

Read on for more details about Tim Rajeff:

Mar Don Resort lures anglers with special deal

FISHING — With the spotlight this week shining on the lowland trout fishing season that opens Saturday, lakes that are open to fishing year-round are temporarily in the shadows.

MarDon Resort on Potholes Reservoir has a plan to capture some attention to its fine facilities and area fisheries that are already open and producing action.  Here's the scoop:

The Central Washington Fish Advisory Committee has purchased 800 rainbow trout 9"-11" and 256 Triploid Trout 9"-11" from Trout Lodge to be stocked in Corrall Lake before the April 26-27 weekend. 

MarDon Resort will be offering camping specials for a tent or RV site, stay Friday get Saturday 1/2 off.  Must request at time of booking.  You must have a valid fishing license and either the WDFW Car Pass that comes with a seasonal fishing license or a Discover Pass to drive to this lake, which is just across the street from MarDon Resort.

This lake is one of potholes "seep lakes" that opened to the public for fishing on March 1.

Info: (509) 346-2651. 

It’s the buzz: fishing season opens Saturday

FISHING — I just got off the air with KXLY radio host Bud Namek to discus Saturday's opening of Washington's lowland trout lake fishing season — and the special advance coverage we'll be publishing Thursday in S-R Outdoors.

I’ve been covering opening day for more than three decades and every year I come across family groups that have been assembling at the same lakes to camp and fish for generations.  

There's a lot of competition for a family's recreation time nowadays, but fishing is still a good value and time well-spent.

 It's a lifetime sport.

IFG says Pend Oreille kokanee limits could be raised

FISHING — They were cautious at first, allowing a daily limit of just six kokanee last year for the first kokanee fishing season since 1999 at Lake Pend Oreille.

But Idaho Fish and Game Department officials say surveys continue to show the fishery has recovered from its near collapse, with  2 or 3 million adult land-locked sockeyes estimated to be swimming in the lake this spring.

The department is getting ready to ask anglers if they'd back biologists in requesting that the daily limit be raised to 15. If so, they'll propose the increase to the Idaho Fish and Game Commission for a decision that could be made in mid-May.

"The first question anglers are going to ask is whether the fishery is recovered enough to be ready for it," said Jim Fredericks, Panhandle fisheries manager. "Our answer is definitely yes, or we wouldn't even suggest it."

Fredericks invites anglers who have questions or comments about the possible rule change to contact him at (208) 769-1414 or send an e-mail to jim.fredericks@idfg.idaho.gov, before May 10th

Sign of the times:  The annual K&K Spring Derby, for the first time since the 1990s, has added a Kokanee Division to its fishing contest.   The event opens this weekend and runs through May 5. The Lake Pend Oreille Idaho Club's Pin Auction fundraising event is Friday.

 Prizes run up to $2,500 for the largest rainbow and $1,500 for the top mackinaw.

But yes, kokanee are back.  The K&K name came from the old days of Kamloops & Kokanee Days.  Whether you think it should be G & K (G for Gerrard-strain rainbow) or whatever, it's great to see the return of the K for Kokanee.

Video: Early-season fly fishing on North Idaho streams

FISHING — Sean Visintainer of Silver Bow Fly Shop in Spokane Valley has produced a series of informational fly fishing videos that take the mystery out of rigging up and presenting flies to trout in the pre-runoff shoulder season.

This one's titled: Fly Fishing NF Coeur d'Alene / St Joe River - Pre-Runoff Rigs / Flies.

Says Visintainer:

Most of the fishing before it warms up will be nymph or streamer rigs, but as spring progresses the dry fly fishing will pick up too. Both the NF Coeur d'Alene and St. Joe Rivers get good hatches of bwo's, March browns, gray drakes, and skwala stones. Even if the hatches are not intense it can still get fish up. 

Video: Pre-runoff fly fishing tactics for cutthroat streams

FISHING — Sean Visintainer of Silver Bow Fly Shop in Spokane Valley has produced a series of informational fly fishing videos that take the mystery out of rigging up and presenting flies to trout in the pre-runoff shoulder season.

This one's titled: Pre-Runoff Fly Fishing Tactics Part 1 - NF Coeur d'Alene / St Joe Rivers.

Says Visintainer:

The topics that I discuss in this video include:

  • walk/wade fishing back eddies with nymphs/streamers
  • fishing "soft" water along the bank
  • casting tip for dealing with steep/brushy banks.

When water levels go up in the spring, don't let walk/wade fishing these rivers scare you. Most of the time the fish are tight to the bank and you don't even have to get in the water.

Video: Pre-runoff streamer fishing tips for St. Joe River

FISHING - Put on an extra layer of fleece and get ready to fly fish the pre-runoff period on area rivers — as well as the post-runoff period before prime flows return.

How do you fish these "shoulder" seasons?

FISHING — Sean Visintainer of Silver Bow Fly Shop in Spokane Valley has produced a series of informational fly fishing videos that take the mystery out of rigging up and presenting flies to trout in the pre-runoff shoulder season.

In the video above, Visintainer zeroes in on taking cutthroats by chucking streamers into "soft" water along the high flows of the St. Joe River.