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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Hunting and Fishing

Alan Liere Correspondent

Trout and kokanee

WDFW fish biologist Chris Donley said Williams and Badger lakes are two of the better lowland waters now. Trout at Williams are holding in 25-30 feet of water, and those at Badger in 22-32 feet. Donley said these trout will most likely not go deeper this summer unless it gets too hot.

Good trout reports also came at midweek from West Medical, where the lake is said to have turned over, and from Fishtrap. Fishtrap Lake Resort owner Mike Barker said some anglers make the mistake of automatically going to the bottom for their fish, but they are better off to suspend the bait at about 14 feet.

Waitts Lake rainbow and brown fishing has been good for 11-inch plants and carryovers, and there is some good perch fishing. Night fishing for trout is popular at Waitts when the weather turns hot.

Clarence Grimes at Marshall Lake Resort said the fishing is as good as he has seen it in his 50 years at the lake. Cutthroat are averaging 11 inches, with many carryovers to 15 inches. Grimes said it doesn’t seem to matter what method is used.

Sprague Lake anglers are having no problems catching limits of trout. The springs at the end of the Sprague Lake Resort dock have been productive. The smaller plants at Sprague are running 10-12 inches, but a typical five-fish limit will include two fish of 16 inches or better.

Spokane resident Dale Moffat fished all over Coeur d’Alene Lake on Wednesday but had little success. He said the ones he caught were 9-12 inches.

A group of friends and I had similar poor luck on Monday night, still-fishing at Loon Lake, and we had to quit early because of the storm. On Wednesday night, Donley and I tried it again, and were on the way back to the launch with limits of 11-inch fish before 9 p.m. Two trollers had been out all day but only had two fish.

Kokanee fishing has been good at Dworshak. Most of the fish are running 10-12 inches, and near-limits are normal.

A few large kokanee (to 4 pounds) are coming from Swawilla Basin and near Keller. Trollers are using downriggers to drag small dodgers and Apex lures in 20-60 feet of water.

On Lake Roosevelt, guide Lenny Mayo has caught big carryover rainbow on Kokanee Killers and Pro-Lite flashers out of Seven-Bays. The 707,000 rainbow released from Roosevelt net pens in May aren’t big, but they should be 12-14 inches by September.

Curlew Lake still has excellent rainbow fishing. At Tiffany’s Resort, Doug Malsam said there are many 10- to 11-inch fish and plenty running 14-16 inches. He said still fishermen are doing well in the evening and at night dunking Power Bait.

Corral and Warden lakes in the Columbia Basin are still booting out 10- to 12-inch trout.

Pend Oreille Lake rainbow to 9 pounds are biting, primarily on the south end. Apexes, jigs and Lymans are all working well. Mackinaw can be found in good numbers at either end. At Pend Oreille Charters, Kurt Arnter said the water is finally all the way up and his clients have been catching many 10- to 15-pound macks.

Fly fishing on the North Fork Coeur d’Alene and the St. Joe has been good. Cutthroat and cutbows are hitting Stimulators, Greendrakes, Copper Johns, Prince Nymphs and attractor patterns – anything big – for 12- to 18-inch fish. Hoodoo and Moon passes are finally open, as is the road between Avery and Redeye.

The Clark Fork was running at 2,639 cfs at midweek, high and muddy. A few fish are being caught along the edges.

Salmon and steelhead

The opening day of the chinook season was a bust at Wells Dam and the mouth of the Okanogan. It may take another week for the salmon to show up.

Catch-and-release steelhead season opened on the Clearwater Tuesday, but few fish have come over Lower Granite. With the early numbers over Bonneville, steelheaders should eventually have good to excellent fishing this year.

Almost 30 miles of the Upper Salmon River remains open for salmon fishing, a stretch that has not been open to recreational salmon fishing in 30 years. Another stretch, 25 miles of the South Fork Salmon River that has not been open to recreational salmon fishing for 43 years, is open also.

Spiny ray

Smallmouth bass fishing has really picked up on the Snake River. Some nice fish are being caught above Lewiston and in the Lower Granite pool. The Grande Ronde has good color, but is running high and fast.

Smallmouth are hitting everything in the shallows all over Potholes Reservoir. Anglers are also finding good largemouth fishing in the sand dunes, and are catching quite a few 5- to 10-pound walleye on worm harnesses, particularly in the evening. The Lind Coulee area is giving up some nice perch catches from the bridge downstream to the reservoir, and Soda Lake has been excellent for smallmouth.

Moses Lake bass are also biting aggressively, though the walleye bite is not as good as that at Potholes.

At Coulee Playland on Banks Lake, Lou Nevsimal said fishing has been “just plain weird,” with everything a month behind. He said fish aren’t where they are supposed to be, and suspects many anglers are fishing too deep. Walleye are not yet locked into their summer patterns and are scattered in small schools.

Lake Roosevelt walleye are numerous but small. Limit catches have been common up the Spokane arm, north of Seven Bays and in the Gifford area. Two northern lakes with lots of largemouth are Twin, near Inchelium, and Curlew, near Republic. You’ll fish a long time at either lake to catch a bass more than 3 pounds, but for steady action and the occasional large fish, it’s worth the drive.

Downs Lake perch 9-12 inches are biting in the middle of the channels between the lily pads. There are many 10- to 12-inch rainbow.

As the water warms, bass fishing has been outstanding all over Pend Oreille, Coeur d’Alene and the chain lakes.

Other species

Anglers will get eight more days to catch sturgeon in the Columbia River estuary – Thursday through July 12, July 17-19 and July 26-27. This area, between the mouth of the Columbia and the Wauna power lines near Cathlamet, still had 4,200 sturgeon available for harvest when the regular season ended June 25. As before, the daily catch limit is one white sturgeon, measuring 45 inches to 60 inches. Donley said this is one of the most productive sturgeon fisheries in the state and the most fun, as many fish are coming from shallow water and have a tendency to go airborne when hooked.