Ice fishing, Idaho
Ice is thick enough to support anglers safely on many bays of Pend Oreille, Priest, Hayden and Coeur d’Alene lakes.
As a result, anglers are pulling big perch through holes in Bottle Bay at Pend Oreille and shallow areas of Hayden, mackinaw trout near the mouth of Indian Creek at Priest and pike in most bays at Coeur d’Alene, said Jeff Smith, owner of Fins & Feathers at Coeur d’Alene.
“We only get ice that’s safe for ice fishing at the big lakes once every three or four years,” he said. “I think we’ll have some excellent ice fishing at the lakes the next couple of weeks.”
He said ice fishermen will catch small perch at Bottle Bay, but they have an excellent chance to catch 12-inchers if they get in the right place. Ice on the bay is at least 10 inches thick. Keep in mind, he added, that fishing at Pend Oreille is a hit-or-miss thing.
Now that Hayden has plenty of ice for ice fishing, he said anglers are finding schools of perch 10-12 inches. They’re also are pulling pike through holes in the ice.
The Twin Lakes are providing fair to good fishing for perch and an occasional small kokanee. Perch in upper Twin are 6 to 8 inches; those in Lower Twin average 8 inches. Surprisingly, anglers this week were catching perch at Upper Twin that were suspended at 20 to 25 feet in water nearly 100 feet deep.
Cocolalla, Round, Fernan and many other lakes are yielding small perch.
Most of the bays around Lake Coeur d’Alene are covered with enough ice for safe fishing, he said. Anglers are catching pike in Blue Creek, Beauty, Harrison, Mica and Wolf Lodge bays.
Fishing for pike at the lakes adjacent to the lower Coeur d’Alene River has been slow, he said.
Ice is thick enough out from Indian Creek at Priest Lake for safe fishing, he said. Anglers are catching bigger mackinaw trout in that area than they’ve been catching at Cavanaugh Bay.
Ice fishing, Washington
Hog Canyon is the most productive trout lake in Eastern Washington. The small lake, covered by at least 10 inches of ice except where a stream enters and leaves, probably is the only lake where a novice fisherman can catch a limit of five rainbows.
Usually by this time every winter, anglers have depleted the lake’s fish population. This winter has been different. Anglers couldn’t drive to the lake for extended periods in December and early January as the result of snowstorms. The last quarter-mile of the road was washed out during an unusually warm spell. Not even four-wheel-drive vehicles could negotiate the mile-long access road.
The weather has been cold, but not enough snow fell the last few weeks to prevent anglers from driving to the lake. The road was repaired, making it possible for fishermen to drive to the public access area in a low-slung passenger car.
Once anglers learned the lake was full of 9- to 18-inch rainbows, it attracted scores every day, especially on weekends. If you go to the lake, fish your bait on or within a few inches of the bottom. Most productive baits have been maggots and corn.
The trout population in Fourth of July Lake should still be large enough to provide excellent fishing at times. Like Hog Canyon, access was limited for two to three weeks. A high percentage of the rainbows in Fourth of July are carryovers measuring 14 to 22 inches. Until the ice melts, anglers may have difficulty catching enough trout under 14 inches to take home a limit of five.
It’s tough to find a lake where there are large enough perch to satisfy most fishermen. Two-thirds or more of the perch in Sprague, Newman, Waitts, Moses, Potholes Reservoir and Long (below O’Sullivan Dam) are under 8 inches. At least half, perhaps more, of the perch in Eloika are too small to interest fishermen.
Biggest perch are in Spokane (Long) Lake, but getting access to good fishing places is difficult. Most of the shoreline is private property. Anglers who have had permission to go through private property have taken home scores of perch measuring 8 to 11 inches.
Water now is flowing through the canal from the Potholes Reservoir to Soda Lake and, as a result, the ice on Soda and Long lakes no longer is safe for ice fishing, a spokesman for the Mar-Don Resort said.
The Grande Ronde and Clearwater rivers continued to provide excellent fishing for steelhead last weekend. The Snake River was clear enough for fishing but nearly all anglers ignored it.
Jay Poe, owner of Hells Canyon Sports at Clarkston, said the Ronde was high but not too high for good fishing. Most Ronde anglers spend their time in the section between the Schumaker Grade and the Washington-Oregon border.
The Idaho Fish and Game Department reported anglers averaged 17 hours per steelhead along the lower Clearwater River last weekend. The river was high and muddy below the mouth of Potlatch Creek.
Fishing was slow along the North Fork of the Clearwater, with anglers averaging 33 hours per fish. The water was high and clear.
With the Snake in fair condition, anglers probably will resume fishing it this weekend.
Anglers are continuing to catch 25-fish limits of 7-inch kokanee at Spirit Lake, Smith said. The fishing often is fast and anglers take limits in a couple hours, but it can slow down dramatically on some days.
Fishermen are using No. 10 hooks wrapped with red floss and baited with maggots to interest the kokanee. They’ve been fishing their lures 25 to 30 feet deep.
Access is a problem at Spirit Lake. Snow banks are deep around the public access and the owner of the Silver Beach Resort has posted his property with signs saying that trespassing across his land is forbidden.
To get to the most productive spots near the south end, anglers drove pickup trucks and ATVs over the 18-inch-thick ice this week.
A few anglers have caught 12- to 13-inch kokanee at Davis Lake in northeast Washington. They’ve been parking along the road and walking out on the 14-inch-thick ice. The kokanee population in the lake seems to be small. A good day’s catch is three to four.
It’s been too cold for most anglers to troll Lake Coeur d’Alene for chinook salmon. When the temperature goes over 45 degrees, trollers are expected to resume fishing for the chinooks.
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