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Friday, December 13, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sports >  Outdoors

Hunting and fishing

By Alan Liere Correspondent

Fly fishing

Dave Hughes and Rick Hafele are putting on a nymphing workshop in Cle Elum followed by a book signing and open house with food and drink from 6-9 p.m. on May 9. Info: Yakima River Fly Shop, (509) 674-2144.

Most rivers and streams in the Yakima River basin are closed to fishing until the first Saturday in June. A notable exception is the catch-and-release section of the Yakima River where anglers often do well this time of year for rainbow trout. Conditions are good now and Nymph fishing has been excellent. It’s still a little early for dries, though skwalas are beginning to hatch.

Dry Falls Lake in Sun Lakes State Park opened Wednesday under selective-gear rules with a daily catch limit of one trout. Fly fishermen are catching yearling rainbows of 14 inches and carryovers from 16-24 inches. “Catch rates should average five to 10 fish per trip, and the right place at the right time could produce 20-plus fish days,” said regional fish biologist Jeff Korth. .

Trout and kokanee

Anglers willing to brave the weather are reeling in 2- to 3-pound rainbow at Sprague Lake, though a trip this week with two friends resulted in only two fish because the wind blew so strongly we were limited to casting bait from just one spot in the shelter of the big island. More than 3,000 one-third- to one-half-pound rainbows were planted in Sprague in mid-March.

Though it’s more common to catch a pikeminnow, trollers long-lining Rapalas or Wooly Buggers are beginning to take a few suspended rainbow from Long Lake.

Liberty Lake anglers trolling a variety of spoons and plugs are taking brown trout to 6 pounds. Liberty just received about 350 quarter-pound rainbows from the Spokane Hatchery.

Coffeepot Lake, a selective gear fishery, is ice-free and producing trout as well as spiny ray. The daily catch limit for rainbow is one of at least 18 inches.

Amber Lake is completely open and providing good catch-and-release fishing for rainbow and cutthroat trout. Amber shifts to a catch-and-keep season on the last Saturday of April.

The seep lakes on the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge opened Wednesday, attracting hundreds of anglers. Upper Hampton Lake was giving up the largest rainbow, but the Pillar/Widgeon chain (access just southeast of Soda Lake) was among the most productive. Heart and Windmill were also good. Just south, Warden Lake will open April 25. Martha Lake, south of Quincy, is still kicking out nice rainbow to 19 inches for bait and hardware anglers. Burke and Quincy lakes are also fishing well.

Rock Lake browns and rainbows are hitting a variety of plugs and spinners cast close to shorelines. Rock was just stocked with 3,321 quarter-pound brown trout.

The Tucannon River impoundments on WDFW’s Wooten Wildlife Area in Columbia County have been receiving plants of catchable and jumbo rainbows. Fishing is easy – a good place to take the kids.

Year-round West Evans Pond in Asotin County just received 150 nearly 1-pound rainbows and Orchard Pond in Columbia County recently received 30 jumbos and 1,000 catchables. Quarry Pond in Walla Walla County will be stocked with more catchable and jumbo trout in early April.

Rainbow waters, Campbell and Davis lakes in the Winthrop area, shifted Wednesday from a catch-and-keep season to a catch-and-release season. Rat Lake, near Brewster, and Big and Little Green lakes near Omak did the same. Rat has rainbow and brown trout. The Green lakes are predominately rainbow.

Roses Lake in the Okanogan has been hot since ice-off. Most fish are 11-13 inches, but there are brood stock of 5 pounds or larger to keep things interesting. Trolling is good, but fishing from the bank with Power Bait has put a lot of trout in the frying pan.

Steelhead and salmon

The spring chinook catch is continuing to pick up on the lower Columbia River. About one angler in 10 takes home a springer. Local guides, based on the Bonneville count, are predicting there won’t be many salmon in Idaho waters before mid-May.

Beginning Wednesday, the Columbia River Ringold area steelhead fishery was restricted to bank fishing only. The boundary area for the bank fishery is from the WDFW marker one-quarter mile downstream of the Ringold irrigation wasteway outlet to the marker one-half mile upstream of Spring Creek. The fishery will be open through April 15. Last year during the April season, anglers averaged one steelhead per 2.7 hours of fishing, and similar success is expected this year.

Spiny ray

A few walleye are beginning to show at the spillways in the Moses Lake sand dunes. Grubs and tube jigs with a piece of nightcrawler are enticing fish from the current. Also in the area, several warm-water species fishing waters have opened. These are Hutchinson and Shiner lakes, and Coyote, Bobcat and Hayes creeks and ponds, all with good bass and bluegill fisheries. Coyote and Bobcat creeks and ponds are small waters, which usually warm up quickly and provide some excellent early fishing. Only non-motorized boats are allowed on Hutchinson and Shiner, and Coyote and Bobcat creeks and ponds are walk-in only with access for both areas off McMannaman Road. The mouth of the Colville River is a good place to catch a few walleye and quite a few burbot this time of year. Gobs of nightcrawlers thrown from shore will catch either, but the burbot bite is best after dark.

Walleye fishing is starting to pick up in The Dalles Pool, where boat anglers have been averaging a fish per rod. In the John Day Pool, the average has been a fish for every three rods.

Other species

Coastal anglers fishing for lingcod have been pulling in some decent-sized fish – when they can get out. Boats have had a tough time crossing the bar at Westport, but on good days, two-fish limits are the rule.

Sturgeon fishing is about the only thing happening on the Snake River. It has been typically good for this time of year above Lewiston.


Washington youth hunters (younger than 16) accompanied by an adult may hunt turkeys Saturday and Sunday in all game management units across the state. Birds took a hit this winter and last, but they are still abundant down low in most of the northeast and southeast game management units of this region.

You can contact Alan Liere by e-mail at

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